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Scientist on the Loose


USA | Saturday, 17 October 2009 | Views [687] | Comments [2]

Ok, so I just spent 30 minutes detailing my first day at Kili and the computer died erasing everything.  I'll add the good stuff later, but for now here is a summary.

We took the Machame Route, also known as the "Whiskey" Route.  Our guide's name was Chombo.  I climbed with my friend from college Annette, two of her colleagues from the cruise ship - Marc the IT guy and Melissa the dancer.  We were also joined by Marc's father and brother.

OCT 9, 2009 - Met everyone in the airport, plane left after midnight with a 4 hour layover in Nairobi.  We arrived at the hotel on no sleep to find it looked like a triage unit.  Everyone was limping or bandaged or bleeding through bandages.

OCT 10, 2009 - DAY 1 - We began our climb with great weather, but we could see the clouds closing in.  A few hours in the climb it began to drizzle.  Everyone pulled out their wet weather gear, nice water proof jackets and bag covers.  I had a jacket my mom had loaned me that folds into its own little bag and a trash bag for my backpack.  This is where I learned the difference between water resistant and water proof.  I was soaked and miserable, and still had hours and hours left to hike.

OCT 11, 2009 - DAY 2 - The day started better with sunshine and everyone in good spirits.  The hike was beautiful, like walking through a Dr. Seuss book.  We got to camp around 2pm and were served a hot lunch of chicken (well, that's what I hope it was), veggies, and breaded fried bread (I didn't know you could bread bread).  About an hour later I felt the gurgle in my stomach alerting me something was wrong. Actually, it was so loud that Melissa heard it too.  I tried to ignore it but there was nothing I could do...it was food poisoning.  Needless to say I didn't sleep that night.  Lunch on Day 2 was the last time I ate until we were off the mountain. 

OCT 12, 2009 - DAY 3 - I opened the tent the next morning to see frost on the ground, it wasn't a good start to the day.  Everyone tried to convince me to eat, but the thought of food just made me want to be sick again.  Day 3 was tough, with no sleep and no food in my system I had very little energy, but I did the best I could.  A short while into the trip, I got sick again.  Let's just say, I've had better days.  Chombo came over and helped me take my pack off and gave me some coke to settle my stomach.  I cried a little, mostly disappointed that this probably meant I wouldn't summit and I didn't want to come all this way to fail.  Chombo promised me he would get me to the top, but in my heart I didn't think there was any chance of making it.

OCT 13, 2009 - DAY 4 - Today I woke up in much better spirits.  We had camped on a rocky ledge overlooking the valley, and our campsite had an amazing view of the peak.  The weather was great, and I knew we would get to do some bouldering up Barranco Wall. I still wasn't able to eat, but I was feeling a little better.  I made it all the way to the top of BW before I felt sick again, the rest of the day was long and excruciating.  We hiked up a long hill and at the top could see camp, unfortunaly as we got closer we could tell there was a valley between us, which meant another descent and ascent.  I've never been more miserable.  Again, I didn't complain...but I did ask for several breaks.  We arrived at camp around 5:30pm, the group had dinner and again I looked at my plate.  I tried my best to eat the plain pasta and soup knowing that in a few hours I would begin the final ascent to the peak, but I just couldn't stomach it.

OCT 14, 2009 - DAY 5 (K-DAY) - Although we had retired to our tents at around 7pm, we got very little sleep due some snoring South Africans in a nearby tent.  Then, at 10pm, they woke up and began loudly getting ready and counting off.  It was really frustrating.  At 11pm we were given tea and told to get ready.  Shortly after we had some cookies and a little more tea, threw on our boots and every bit of clothing we had and began the climb from our camp (~4,700m) to Uhuru Peak (~5,850m).  It had been 3 days since I had consumed more than an Energade gummy snack or similar, I was only slightly more hydrated due to a shortage of water.  Every step felt like it could be my last.  I asked for breaks every 20 to 40 minutes and often considered having one of the porters take me back to camp so I wouldn't hold my group back, but they were very supportive (even though stopping meant everyone froze their asses off).  My gloves were terrible and I was pretty sure I was going to lose a finger at one point. 

The sun rose around 6:30am and we could finally see the peak.  It still looked so far away, but I put my head down and just followed Chombo's steps.  For much of the ascent the ground was loose gravel on a steep slope, and with each step I took I would lose a few inches.  Just 7 short hours after we began our climb, we reached Stella Point just below the peak.  Reaching Stella Point means you get a green certificate, and even though I never dreamed I would get that far after the week I had, I knew I had to go for the gold (certificate, that is).  After a short rest (and pee break) at Stella Point, we headed out.

Uhuru Peak is about a 45 minute steady grade walk from Stella Point with beautiful views of the glaciers and valley below.  I was feeling pretty good with my goal in sight. In what seemed like only moments later, there we were, in front of the famous sign.  We took a few pics and video and began our descent just as everyone was beginning to feel ill.  We were elated to have made it, but unfortunately for some, the route down was much more painful than the way up... (to be continued).

Tags: kilimanjaro



What an incredible few days. Despite the unbelievable challenges, I am not at all surprised you achieved your goal. I am so proud of you, Tracy.

  Charlene Seaman Oct 20, 2009 2:50 AM


Great job, T-rocks! Can't WAIT to see the pics!

  babba Oct 20, 2009 5:19 AM

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