We managed a long lie this morning until 7.30am – it was a treat and a half! Breaky wasn’t served until 8.15am and as per always it was fantastic. From there we made the 4 hour ascend up the Branco wall to 4200m. After a brilliant sleep by practically the entire group we were in great spirits and ready to rock climb the shit out of that wall. It was super hard however, very exhausting and every step we took felt like 15 on a stair master. Today, Remi our chief guide warned us not to take any pain killers if we had headaches as we had to check whether the altitude was affecting us seriously so they could detect it early.
A few in the group started playing music on their phones so we had a sing a long to Queen, 90’s rock and Bob Marley which made the time past faster along the way. It helped a lot, so did talking but sometimes it was too difficult to hold a conversation on the ascend. We arrived at camp at 2pm and at this stage we had reached 15,100ft so we were advised to rest the afternoon and try and regain as much strength as possible. We ended up watching a few episodes of the Witcher which I had downloaded on my phone before passing out just before dinner.
Tomorrow is base camp day so we were to up our Diamox and stop all other painkillers by this point. Also by now we were on a 4l drinking water per day and if anyone had ever taken Diamox , you will know that it makes you pee at least 15 times a day… the only time being a girl has sucked bad was on this trip. Peeing outside with so many layers on is a bloody mission!
Sleep: Slept from 9pm – 6.30am.
1 x Diazepam
CBD Oil for sleep
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 4kms taking 5-6 hours
Today was the day when we knew that everything we had been working towards since booking this trip mattered. Today we were reaching Base camp and tonight we would start the hike to the Summit. Up at 7am, after breaky the whole team got together for group pictures, and we were able to meet the full crew for the first time. Behind the scenes there had been a few issues along the way and being short staffed meant that a lot of the time the porters and staff were doing double the work, so we never saw them.
They started by singing traditional songs from Kilimanjaro and I am not quite sure how to describe how I felt. It was a mixture of sheer excitement and determination but at the same time I wanted to burst into tears. It was incredibly motivational to know that this team of complete strangers had our backs for this hike. They cared about getting us to the summit, they cared about how we were the entire time and they were there will big smiles and warm hearts. It was just such a special and emotional moment of the trip.
Within 3.5 hours we had made it to base camp where we were told to sleep until lunch time. At base camp there is also no water so the porters effectively have to transport 300l of water up and down for the previous camp that day continuously until we had enough. If I was stronger, I would have tried to help but we knew we had to sleep asap. After lunch it was time to sleep again and then at dinner, we checked our oxygen levels, pulse and were told by 11pm it was wake up time. We were about to begin the ascend to the Summit.
Sleep: Slept for only a couple of hours through the day
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 4kms taking 4-5 hours
We woke up at 11pm – so effectively still on day 5 and I will tell you know. Waking up at that time and having a put on that amount of layers knowing that for the next 14 hours you would be hiking in the freezing cold, it made me want to vomit. Seriously, we were so cold and tired when we woke up, climbing the summit we could both see far enough. I had 7 layers on my top half, a scarf, balaclava, alpaca wool gloves and 4 layers on my bottom half including Ski pants and jacket.
As soon as we left it started to snow, it was so dark and cold and as much as the vibe of the group was good, a few started to deteriorate rapidly along the way with headaches, nausea, dizziness and overall feeling and exhaustion. The guides and porters started to take the day packs off the ones who were feeling the altitude affects and walked with them. We were in a slow ‘’pole pole’’ line the whole way but through that 6 hours waiting for the sun to rise, there was many tears, I fell asleep while walking 3 times. I felt sick, dizzy, disorientated and the want and need to get off the mountain as so strong. Near Stella point – the first point before the Summit, the sun started to rise into the horizon and lit up the sky. As soon as it did the group began to sing, chant, dance and the groups spirits lifted so high, it again brought most people to tears. We were nearly there, we had made it to Stella point.
1 more hour to go and we would be there, the Summit of Kilimanjaro, the epitome of the challenge, the reason we all came. It was so close and after stuffing as many protein bars and snacks down our throats as possible we began the last and final ascend to the Summit – the roof of Africa. We finally arrived at the summit and were welcomed with -20degree temperatures and the strongest wind. The sun was now high in the sky, but the temperature was something I have never in my life felt. I couldn’t remove my hands from my pockets for more than 30 seconds at a time, it was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life.
We did it, we made it to the top and from there it was time to get the fuck off the mountain. The climb down took just under 4 hours and this took us back to Base camp where we were given 2 hours to sleep before lunch and before the 7.5km hike to the camp we would be staying that night. My headache by this point was so intense that I took meds, I had to. I couldn’t sleep even though I could hardly keep my eyes open, I was in a bit of a mess despite feeling great at the Summit.
The last 7.5km’s today felt like the summit all over again, I have never in my life walked that much – 14.5 hours overall and it was exhausting. At dinner we had our ‘last supper’ and then made our way to bed as soon as physically possible. It was a great day, wonderful in fact and one of the best experiences of my life but at that point in time all I could think about was sleep and not feeling so shit.
Sleep: 8.30pm – 6am – Great sleep 8+ hours
Night time cold and flu meds
Walked: 14kms taking 14.5 hours