Kili-Day 5
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057-Kili day5.jpg (192444 bytes)01/05/03
Summit day. We got up at 11pm the night before, ate some cookies and tea, and were ready to start up the summit by headlamp at midnight. Only the seven guides and assistant guides come along on summit day and they stagger themselves between every few of us in case people start dropping or slowing down. At this point I was real psyched. There were some stars out and what could be better than heading up to 19K feet at midnight freezing your ass off? Not much.
The trail started up some sleep slick rock and then leveled off before the switchbacks began. After that it was switchbacks essentially to the crater rim. It doesn't matter what's around you cause your world consists of how far your headlamp can shine and the pair of boots that you're staring at in front of you. The guides were quite talkative along this portion of the climb, which was nice cause it really took the breathe out of anyone to say much! I felt like shit near the beginning but that passed and started getting some vertigo around 18,000ft. There were others who were hallucinating, puking, or just chugging along while temperature dropped down below zero.
058-Kili day5.jpg (157256 bytes)
After about 5hrs I heard that we were about 20 minutes from Stella Point on the crater rim. This definitely gave me a second wind and even a bigger smile! The horizon was starting to get some morning sun on it and we would get on the crater rim just as the sun was coming up. Those 20 minutes seemed to last forever, but once on the crater rim the guides were singing, dancing, and hugging everyone! Everyone joined in knowing that we only had about an hour to the true summit. After more celebrating and tea we started around the crater rim towards the Roof of Africa and to the summit of the largest free-standing volcano in the world! I felt like I could've jogged it, but probably would've died. The surrounding glaciers were huge! Instead of tapering off most of them had enormous vertical 060-Kili day5.jpg (171949 bytes) headwalls. There were a handful of other folks on the summit and everyone took their turns taking pictures with the summit sign. It was awesome!
After about an hour it was time to head back down to Barafu camp. It only took 2.5hrs to get down but it was nice to see what was around since the064-Kili day5.jpg (231605 bytes) sun was out now. Just as expected though, barren high alpine desert. At one point I was063-Kili day5.jpg (158180 bytes) looking down at a field and these big boulders looked like canvas tents, until they started moving! Then I thought they were wooley mammoths that the Tuskin Warriors ride in StarWars and realized I was losing my shit and better keep going. I got down to that area and it turned out that they were just boulders. Wow, high altitude and no sleep are better than drugs! It was a big relief to come over a ridge and see camp below around 9:30am. Some porters were waiting with orange drink and068-Kili day5.jpg (233653 bytes) congrats, before hanging out and starting to pack up. It was amazing how the air felt so much thicker at 15K than at 19K feet, felt almost like being at sea level. It was great just kickin' back watching different groups of people trickle down off the summit and how tired but happy they were. After everyone got down it was time for lunch and to pack up before heading down another 6,000ft to Mweka camp. At that point gravity took over and carried me down the 3hr hike. We went back through all the vegetation zones and to the edge of the rain forest. This part of the trail was recently re-opened from repairs and at points it was thick gooey mud, sliding through it was a lot like practicing tele turns!
Best part is that there is beer at Mweka camp! Oh man did those taste great. We had a few of them and talked about the days hike. It seemed like it was so long ago but only less than 12hrs before we were on the summit. After a 10,000ft descent the day was almost over. Caught a buzz quick and after dinner everyone crashed. Probably the best sleep for me on the entire climb, it should be after being awake for close to 40hrs!

056-Kili day5.jpg (143565 bytes) Sunrise on the crater rim; Glacier near the crater rim 055-Kili day5.jpg (159980 bytes)

061-Kili day5.jpg (169708 bytes) The Happy Meal; Josephat, me, Steve B. 062-Kili day5.jpg (168904 bytes)

065-Kili day5.jpg (190161 bytes) Big ass glacier headwall 067-Kili day5.jpg (217048 bytes)

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