Climbing Kilimanjaro Nearly Killed Me: 4
Sept. 7, 2007
Part 4: Reaching the Rim
As we near Gilman’s Point at 5,680 meters, I’m now super sick. I’m starting to throw up and I’m assigned an assistant guide to hold on to me as I pitch forward, blowing chucks over the side of the mountain. It’s at least another 4-5 hour climb to the peak and back. With tears streaming down my face, Juma, our head guide comes to talk with me. He says I’m too sick to continue to the summit and I must turn around at Gilman’s Point at head immediately down the mountain. I’m not sure why he was expecting a fight from me, ‘cause I was miserable and more than ready to start heading down the mountain. I was feeling faint at this point and barely able to stand without a guide to prop me up. We reach Gilman’s, snap a picture, then turn around and begin “shale skiing” down the mountain with Swady, the guide assigned to me take me back to camp. Swady and I are making good time, we’re flying down the mountain and make it back in under 2 hours.
I can finally start to breathe again
I can finally start to breathe again and with each step, I feel stronger and stronger. Which is a good thing, because Swady is starting to get a little fresh. I am in no mood to put up with his advances and break away to make it down the mountain on my own, literally leaving Swady in the dust. I return to my tent to wait for the others to come back about 4 hours later.
After lunch, we head the rest of the way back down the mountain. It’s about noon now on our 6th day of climbing and we’ve literally climbed more than 23 hours in the last 2 days, with very little sleep. The hike down the Coca-Cola, or Marangu route, is a stark contrast from our climb up the mountain, which was pretty barren. We start miles above the clouds and walk through tropical rain forests with unbelievable views. The walk is so easy as we descend that I’m practically skipping along. We all get separated on the path and are able to enjoy several moments of solitude to take it all in. Six more hours down the mountain and we’re on the bus back to the hotel.
Back at the Hotel
We all head to the swimming pool for a glorious dunk and agree to meet for a celebratory dinner. After dinner we all decide to head out dancing for the night, which might sound insane, after all the exertion we just endured, but we were on a serious mountain high at the time. We end up at a bar in Moshi, base camp for all Mt. Kilimanjaro treks. Juma and our guides join us for the celebration and they’re seriously in the mood to party, flush with our cash tips. We tipped a heavy $300-$400 per hiker to our porters. Our guys were psyched, to say the least. So we all went out to party that night in Moshi. Now, Moshi is a very Muslim town so when we got to the bar, there were few women there. We don’t let this deter us one bit, and begin to hit the whiskey hard, the 5 of us boogie-ing on the dance floor with our friends the guides. I’ll just say one thing: What happens in Moshi, stays in Moshi.
Read the first 3 posts in the series
This entry was posted on Saturday, December 12th, 2009 and is filed under Africa.