Day Six/Seven: The curve of the earth

From the crater rim

Man, what a night! So, after a few hours of not very restful rest we assemble in the Bucky dome for our pre-summit brief. The weather is cold but clear and you can see the lights of the other climbers heading up the mountain in the darkness of New Years Eve. It’s a slow slog up the hill now, bulky in our cold weather gear, sometimes stopping to let quicker parties through. The air’s getting thinner all the time and I’m struggling now to  keep up with the rest of the party, feet are going numb as the heat leaks out through the soles of my boots (even with two pairs of yak wool socks). Despite the rest stops I’m falling behind as we ascend into a series of mind and body numbing switchbacks, listening to the porters singing (clearly they are acclimatised). Me, I’m just wondering am I going to get there? Thinking about just lying down I’m so exhausted. Eventually G and I fall out of the line with one of the summit porters and I sit down on a god damn freezing rock to catch my breath. Camelback’s frozen (predictably) so down to water in canteen.  Continue reading

Day three: Shira huts

Shira campsite in the morning, looking towards Kibu

Morning of the third day, a cool clear night. Had to get up for a call of nature around three, the moon flooding the plateau with it’s cold light and Kibo standing up against the stars. The air is thinner here and walking back to the tent it suddenly feels like you’re no longer swimming safely at the bottom of an ocean of air but the only person alive on a vast alien plain exposed to the pitiless gaze of ancient and indifferent constellations. Or at least that’s how you feel at three in the morning. 🙂 Continue reading

Day two: Shira 1 camp

Cloud and moor, with G

Waking early, always early on the trail, it’s a bird bath with the ubiquitous bowl of water, breakfast in our Buckminster dome mess tent and a short wait while we (the porters) strike camp, then we’re off on to Shira 1 camp. Climbing up out of the climax rainforest and heading east the air is cooling but still humid and it’s raining intermittently as we move above the forest line and we’re walking amongst heather and stoebe under a lowering sky. Yes it’s east, east and to the east again young man as we climb up the ridge line until we hit our lunch stop. Continue reading

Day one: To Mti Mkubwa

Early morning, Stella Maris Moshi

And we’re off, Moshi to Londorossi gate then Mti Mkubwa

An early start, and we were off in the bus for a couple of hours boneshaking ride to Londorossi gate. We’re using the Lemosho route which takes you up through the western cloud forest then east across the Shira plateau where it joins up with the Barafu route then it’s Barranco, Katanga valley and Barafu before the final New Years Eve ascent to Stella point. Continue reading

The snows of Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro from the balcony of our hotel room

Searching for Hemingway’s leopard

So dear reader, after many adventures on the grass ocean of the Serengeti, and a side trip to the lost world of Ngorongoro, the good doctor and I have finally arrived in Moshi Tanzania, the jump off point for our climb. We’ve had our briefing from the head guide, met the other members of the party and done a final equipment check. Ahead of us is eight long days on the mountain, cold, altitude sickness, pain and fatigue. What’s not to like? 🙂