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Sunday, 28 September 2008

Reaching the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro - Page 3

Written by Carolyn Bonello
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There is something about volcanoes that fascinates me, and finds me craving to conquer their summits to be able to satisfy my curiosity and peer down their crater rims. Having climbed Mount Etna (3350m) in Sicily and Gunung Agung (3142m) in Bali, (Cotapaxi (5897m) in Ecuador was weeks away but the trip was cancelled at the last minute), the time had come for something African – Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania was the next conquest. At an altitude of 5895m, it is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, and I promised myself that one day soon I would have my picture taken at the summit, Uhuru Peak.

 

Reaching the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, travel Africa, travel tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro climb, Tanzania, Uhuru Peak, Marangu Hotel, Moshi, Shira plateau, Machame camp, Barranco Camp, Barranco wall, Karanga valley, Barafu camp, Stella Point, Mweka camp, www.maranguhotel.com, Carolyn BonelloWalking through some great scenic paths, we entered the moorland zone, marked by volcanic rock and the very weird Lobelia and Senecio plants. Stopping several times to rest and munch on energy bars, the seven hour walk was rather pleasurable, and spirits were high by the time we reached the Shira Plateau. The campsite had fantastic views of Mount Meru, was bustling with other trekkers, and housed ‘toilets’ that stank so badly that a minimum distance of at least 50m was necessary to prevent whiffs of nasty odors from reaching our delicate nostrils. (We all opted for ‘al fresco’ toileting from that day on).

 

We spent an extra day here, to acclimatize. (Acclimatization is vital to prevent altitude sickness, so a gradual ascent is necessary. Going up too fast too soon is a recipe for disaster).

 

Barranco Camp (3850m)

The terrain changed dramatically as we walked through the alpine desert, with sparse vegetation and moon-like landscape. Injuries started to set in – we had one twisted ankle, an acute Achilles’ tendonitis due to ill-fitting boots, a number of blisters and sore backs, and by far the worst: early signs of AMS, very ironically manifested by the strongest of the group, our local Judo champion. A couple of intramuscular injections and a few bandages later (we had two doctors in the group, plus myself, a Physiotherapist), we were back on track, and after eight hours of walking reached Barranco camp. Initially shrouded by a dense layer of cloud, golden rays of sun soon burst in to the area, lending to a breathtaking sunset with clear views of the snow-capped peak we were soon to reach.

 

Climbing the imposing Barranco wall

The next morning, a rich breakfast of toast with mango jam, porridge, bacon, eggs, sausages and watermelon gave us the energy we needed (plus a few extra fat deposits on our hips!) to climb the daunting Barranco wall we had been dreading. In spite of giving the illusion of being steep with fatal, sheer drops, it turned out to be a pleasant, two hour climb along safe footpaths. The rest of the walk to Karanga valley (3950m) Reaching the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, travel Africa, travel tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro climb, Tanzania, Uhuru Peak, Marangu Hotel, Moshi, Shira plateau, Machame camp, Barranco Camp, Barranco wall, Karanga valley, Barafu camp, Stella Point, Mweka camp, www.maranguhotel.com, Carolyn Bonellowas a surreal experience, and rather than trekkers, we felt more like Alice strolling through wonderland, due to the high concentration of the bizarre endemic Senacio plants in the area.

Demoralisation sets in: Barafu camp(4600m)

Feelings of wanting to give up started to seep within some of the group by now. Nausea, bouts of diarrhea, headaches, breathlessness and general fatigue (as well as desperate need for a shower in exchange for our daily ration of one tub of hot water) made the walk up to Barafu camp a rather unpleasant one. Silence filled the air as we trudged on, pole pole, stopping only to catch our breath and squeeze some sickly-sweet energy gel into our dry, chapped-lipped mouths.

 

(Page 3 of 5)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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