Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Day Seven- Time to Summit!

Starting Point: Crater Camp, 18,500 ft. elevation
Ending Point (of the ascent): Uhuru Peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, 19,341 ft. elevation!
Total Climbing Time: approximately 1.5 hours

Today was a BIG day: I summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, I turned 32, I experienced a brutal descent and I saw a gorgeous full moon. I'll start off this entry with one of my journal segments:

"At Crater camp, the morning of my birthday, 5 or so of the guys sang "Happy Birthday" to me in English. Herman then gave me a card and a bottle of something (I thought it was wine, but it turned out to be grape juice- Herman noted that it was non-alcoholic!). It was a really sweet memory, as it was dark outside and freezing, but it was indelible (Ezekiel was part of the group- I couldn't see who else)."

So yes, a number of my teammates sang "Happy Birthday" to me around 5am in the pitch dark. It's not often that I get sung to by a group of Tanzanians at 18,500 ft. I think some of them were actually dancing a little jig; it was really quite cute. Obviously this is a memory I will never forget. 

As for how I slept, I can't say that it was the best night ever. While online I found a guide's opinion of sleeping in the crater: "Sleeping in Kibo Crater is not for the faint-hearted and must only be undertaken by those who have acclimatized well. There are obvious dangers of sleeping at 5730m above altitude as there is a higher risk of suffering from altitude related symptoms or a small but significant risk of developing severe AMS or pulmonary or cerebral oedema, amongst those overnighting in the crater. In order to best minimise this risk we summit first prior to sleeping in the crater, thereby ensuring that we observe an imperative principle of acclimatisation, 'climb high, sleep low', at this critical altitude. You should also be aware that amongst those requesting to spend a night in the crater; some climbers change their minds while on the mountain after consulting with the guide and agreeing that they have failed to obtain a sufficiently safe level of acclimatisation for this option."

I'm just glad that I read this after I completed my trip!

I did write one journal segment about my night in Crater Camp:

"Toward the end of the trip (probably at Crater Camp), I was so cold but I had to go to the bathroom. That was probably the night when I tried to pee in a cup. Yes, I tried to pee in my cup. I think I got it. I mean, I got so much in it that it overflowed. Two puddles formed, and although I was frustrated and tired and cold, at that point I wasn't going to do anything about it. In the morning the pee puddles were frozen. I had Ezekiel wash out my cup once before I drank from it again. I wonder if the guys could tell that I had peed in my tent."

Needless to say, I was glad to start moving and heading toward the summit!

First photo of the day. Taken at 5:42am.

Looking back down on our Crater campsite

The Furtwangler Glacier


Sunrise to my left, moon set to my right. Amazing!
 We made it to the top of Kibo. With open arms, I yelled at the top of my lungs, "NINA-PENDA SANA MT. KILIMANJARO!!" (I like Mt. Kilimanjaro very much!). Rumisha smiled. I smiled. We walked the remaining distance to Uhuru Peak...

The sign marks the spot...