Diaries of my Kilimanjaro Hike- Day 6 (Summit Night)
Unlike the other days, Day 6 or Dec 26th 2010 began at midnight. At midnight, our guides came to see us and we had to get moving quickly. With nothing but headlamps and the moon shining, we began a 6-7 hours ascent to Uhuru peak. It was steep, dark and cold. All we saw were the rocks in front of us and the reflection of other headlamps on the trail. It was nice, I have to admit. The toughest part was to reach Stella Point (5,745m) because it was really steep. We were told that the next 200m to Uhuru peak wouldn’t have been as difficult. This being said, we didn’t know that by the time we would reach Stella Point, we barely had energy left to reach Uhuru, meaning that even if the last 200m wasn’t as steep, it was just as physically demanding and exhausting.
Everything was going relatively well by the time we reached halfway. It was steep and most of us were struggling for air, considering that oxygen levels at the height is low. We were walking slowly and still all in a group. This changed about 3-4 hours after the hike began. By then, it was 3-4am in the morning and it was getting really cold. My fingers began to freeze and my feet felt like blocks of ice. Marcel and Con continued to hike at their pace, whereas I fell behind with my guide Abdi. My fingers were so cold that Abdi had to warm them up and gave me more heater packs. He also took my hiking polls away from me, forcing me to move my fingers more. At this point, I was freezing and completely discouraged when looking up at Stella Point because it was so steep and we still had some time before reaching it. I held on to Abdi’s arm and all I remember at this point is walking, one foot after another, whilst taking constant breaks because I was constantly out of breath. Breaks were very short because we would otherwise freeze. It was as mentally challenging as it was physically. Part of me was ready to give up, telling myself that I made it this far and I was happy with my accomplishment. The other part of me kicked myself in the butt and reminded me that I wouldn’t be completely satisfied if I didn’t reach the summit. It was like having the angel and the demon above my shoulders. As all of this was going on in my head, my feet kept on moving, one after the other. I eventually made it to Stella Point, physically exhausted and frozen. I couldn’t wait for the sun to rise.
I think it took me another hour to get from Stella Point to Uhuru peak. I lost track of time at this point but it seemed like it took forever. I was so close yet so far. I was still hanging on to Abdi, hoping that the summit was approaching. A few meters away from the peak, I met both Con and Marcel, who both reached the peak before me. Con made it before sunrise (he’s a marathon runner) and Marcel arrived about 20mins before I did. Marcel didn’t look so good when I saw him and I was truly worried about his well-being. He later needed help in descending the mountain due to altitude sickness and physical exhaustion. We took at picture (not at the summit) and I continued my ascent in reaching the summit. By now, the sun was out and I had a great view of the glaciers. They were huge!
I finally reached the Uhuru peak (5,895m) around 7-7:15am. I was sooo happy to see the sign. I suddenly fell on an adrenaline rush and took a few pictures at the summit with Abdi. I felt like I just won the lottery! After spending a few minutes on the summit taking pictures, it was time to begin the descent to base camp, which took about 2 hours in all. At the beginning of the descent, I was still on adrenaline but quickly began to feel tired as pressure was felt on my knees. I reached base camp around 9:15am and went straight to my tent for an hour nap.
When I woke up around 10:30am, I packed my stuff, had lunch with Con and Marcel and quickly began our descent to the gates. We were supposed to spend one night at Mekwa camp (3,100m) but all 3 of us were eager to get back to the hotel to take a shower and sleep on a bed. Con and I hiked to Mekwa camp where we then had lunch. Marcel had high fever and he was feeling really weak so he took a little more time to get down. We got to the Marangu gates at 6pm, where we then hopped on a bus and headed to the hotel.
Once at the hotel, we were told that it was full. Since we arrived a night early, we couldn’t really argue so they sent us to another hotel in Moshi. Marcel went straight to bed to rest, whereas Con, Ravi (he was feeling better) and I met up with the other group for dinner. We all celebrated our victory at an Indian/Italian restaurant in Moshi and then went to a local club called La Liga. Con and I were on an hour of sleep. It had been a long day but we were both on adrenaline at this point, after reaching the top of Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world!
Previous Post: Diaries of my Kilimanjaro Hike- Day 5