Mt Kilimanjaro – Summit Day!
We head off from camp at about 12.00am. It was pitch dark and the temperature was cold. We had all of our layers of clothing on, plus our big jackets, over pants, beanies and gloves. Our head torches will light our way for the next 6 or 7 hours.
We have a full moon tonight, so the glow from this will provide us with some light.
The climb to Stella Point is steep and long. It is probably lucky that it is dark and we cannot see where we have to get to. We seem to have made a good start and there doesn’t seem to be many trekking groups in front of us.
The coldest part of the night comes at around 4 or 5am. This is when we are all very tired and the night is at its coldest. We are all eagerly awaiting the sunrise, but at this point there is no sign of it. The terrain is a mixture of rocks and loose scree. Your legs get tired from stepping up onto and over the rocks and from slipping and sliding amongst the scree.
Our rest breaks are very short as it gets far too cold to sit for very long. About 5am we had a very welcome cup of tea, which gave us all a boost of energy and morale to keep us going.
We arrive at Stella Point and it is still dark (and very cold). This is great because it is the earliest I’ve ever got here. Sunrise is still an hour away. Philip our Guide, encourages us to keep going to Uhuru Peak. This is mainly to keep warm, but also so we can get to the Summit for sunrise.
We got to the summit at 6.30am, just in time for the sunrise. The views as the sun came up over the horizon were spectacular. From the first hints of yellow through to the vibrant reds and oranges – it was a beautiful sight.
Reaching the summit is an emotional relief and it is not unusual for some trekkers to shed some tears. They have put themselves through this incredible challenge and have seen a side of themselves that they maybe didn’t even know that they had.
It is strange, but when we do finally reach the summit, it is time for a few quick photos, take in the views of the glaciers and then head straight back down again. It took so long to get up here, but we don’t stay long at all.
Getting back down to camp, only takes us about 2 hours. That is 2 hours of slipping in scree and hurtling down that mountain so quickly that sometimes your legs can’t keep up.
We finally arrived back at our camp at 9.30am – 9 ½ hours after leaving there.
Everyone is extremely proud of themselves and of their fellow trekkers. The Porter crew are happy to see us return and greet us with warm tea and lunch.
We cannot relax too much, as after lunch and a brief rest, we have another 3 hours of walking to do. Our camp tonight is Mweka Camp at 3068m asl. From Uhuru Peak this morning, we have descended at total of 2828m asl – a massive day!!
Today, we unfortunately witnessed a couple of trekkers from other groups who were suffering quite badly from altitude sickness. They were needing support to walk and to get themselves down the mountain. Altitude sickness is extremely dangerous and life threatening and an immediate descent is the only option.
It is all downhill to Mweka Camp and we are all very relieved to arrive here about 4.30pm. It will be early to bed tonight for everyone.
Our last day on the mountain……