Climbing Kilimanjaro Nearly Killed Me: 3

September 2-7,  2007

Getting ready to hike, Day 3

Getting ready to hike, Day 3

Part 3 in a 4-part Series

Days 3-5 – We’re getting pooped!  

We keep climbing for another few days…poli poli…one foot in front of the other.

And we keep hiking...

And we keep hiking…
And hiking...

And hiking…

After 4 days of climbing we made it to Kibo Hut, at 4700 meters. It was here that we were to rest for the reminder of the afternoon so we could start our summit push at 12:00 midnight. The goal was to reach the summit at day-break, approximately 6:00 am, which meant we needed to climb in total darkness.

We speculated about the wisdom of this decision to climb in the dark. One theory was that if it was pitch black we couldn’t see the steep incline and therefore would be less afraid of falling off the mountain. Actually, that was the only theory we had.

Hans Meyer Cave

Our first destination on the final ascent was Hans Meyer Cave at 5,182 meters.  It took us several hours to get there I was already not starting to feel so hot. Kate dealt with the boredom of a hike in total darkness by concentrating on one person for each hour. For instance, she’s think about her mom for the full hour, what she liked about her, learned from her, etc. I thought this was a good technique to keep your mind engaged. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for me.


Gilman’s Point

As we left the cave and started toward Gilman’s Point several more hours away, the climb got steadily harder. And I got steadily sicker. Now I’ve never had altitude sickness before (and I’ve climbed several mountains). But now I knew what it felt like and it was no fun.  I had a really hard time catching my breath, so I was gasping the whole time, while dealing with a massive migraine headache.  I was not a happy camper and was pretty much crying non-stop. Boo hoo. There was one bright spot during this part of the trek though.  Sue, who we called 911 ‘cause she was always getting into trouble, provided some levity.


Me at Kibo Hut: Still feeling good!

Me at Kibo Hut: Still feeling good!

Gravity Still Works

We were basically walking in a line of several hundred hikers, zig zagging our way up the mountain.  At this point you couldn’t turn around. There was nowhere to go but up. So, I mentioned how the altitude plays with your insides. Once you get on the mountain, you’re pretty much burping and farting your way up the peak. So Sue all of a sudden steps out of line and onto the face of the mountain. She pulls her pants down, squats, and takes a shit in front of all 200 of us. Now this is the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. What’s even more hilarious is her response. She looks at me when she get back in line and says, “I just had a little poop that had to come out,” and makes a circle with her thumb and forefinger to indicate to me the size of the poop.  I almost lose it. Sue has become my hero. You gotta love a lady who does what needs to be done with no apology. That Sue’s potty break was one of the highlights of the climb says a lot. (Although I’m not sure if it says a lot about her or a lot about me or a lot about the climb in general.) It remains one of my clearest memories of the entire Kilimanjaro climb.
Me and Juma and Kate

Me and Juma and Kate
Sue, aka 911, with our porters

Sue, aka 911, with our porters

p.s. Thanks Sue for some of these pictures! (Obviously Sue didn’t know I was going to write about her pooping went she gave me permission to use them…)

Read the last installment:
Climbing Kilimanjaro Nearly Killed Me: 4


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This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 9th, 2009 and is filed under Africa.

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