Reaching the Kilimanjaro Summit
It’s 12am on Dec 26th, 2010. We’re 3 hikers and 2 guides at base camp getting ready to start our final hike to Uhuru peak, Kilimanjaro’s highest summit at 5,895m. The backstory seems irrelevant. I seem to have somehow ended up here with other hikers. Eurostar deals and last minute bargains aside, this was something that had crossed my mind a few months ago and I was finally going through with it.
The hike started off well. All 3 of us were walking at the same pace and the view was absolutely stunning. The sky was pitch black and all I saw were the reflections of the headlamps on the mountain while the moon shining on us. When our guides told us we were at the half point, I felt like I could reach the top with no problem. But, that all changed when it was around 3am. The cold slowly made its way to us and although I was trying my best to move my fingers, they were at a point of no return- starting to freeze. In addition to my fingers starting to freeze, it was becoming increasingly difficult to breathe. At an altitude of over 5,300m, every step was a challenge. I was no longer able to walk for 15 minutes without wanting to take a break. The only problem was that we couldn’t stop for more than a few seconds because of the cold. One step at a time, I was slowly getting further from my group. One of the guides stayed with me and encouraged me to keep on walking when I was about to give up. At this point, my hands and feet were icicles. My guide took my hiking polls away from me, heat up my hands with his and told me to hang on to him. So one step at a time, one breath at a time, I walked towards the summit. To my happiness, the sun was slowly taking over the moon. The rays of sun were gradually heating up the frozen parts of my body. Although that was improving my body temperature, I was still increasingly facing the challenge of breathing. Every step was becoming more and more difficult. At this point, I could practically see and smell the summit but I still had some time before getting there. I could feel and smell the summit but my energy was running low. I had the angel and the demon in my head from all the stories I had read of Kilimanjaro. The angel telling me it was ok if I couldn’t walk any further because I had already made it this far. The demon was telling me there was no way I could go back now. I had to reach the summit. And so, with very little energy, I continued walking one step at a time. Slowly. Very Slowly. After what seemed to be an eternity, I saw the sign. The sign I previously saw only on pictures, on television and in magazines. I walked a little closer to be no more than a few centimeters away from it. It was the best feeling ever! After 6 days on the mountain, I can say that I reached the Kilimanjaro summit on Dec 26, 2010.