I've got the sun in my eyes

Kilimanjaro, Travel

Day 9: Uhuru Peak (Stage 6)

Sunday, 18 Dec 2011

Distance: 4.86 km
Duration: 7 hours
Altitude reached: 5895 m

My goodness, this was officially the toughest thing I ever put myself into.

Our guides woke us up around 11pm. It was dark. We quickly put our clothes on and gears together. I wore so many layers I lost count. I think on my head, I had 3 layers on (balaclava, beanie and another beanie with my company logo which got covered by ice so no pics for my colleagues. Hah!)

It was freaking cold, I tell you. We started off on a very rocky path. Can’t see anything but the foot of the person in front of me. Then a long uphill way where we had to stop for Mr Fudge’s emergency break :) One of the (not so convenient) effects of altitude sickness. 30 mins! I thought he would turn back but no, with a will of steel, he marched on.

A lot more walking in the unknowns (so dark!). Then we started this really steep walk up and in the middle of the way, it started to snow real heavily. In fact, it turned into a snow storm. At a certain point, I thought, ‘This is it! We are going to freeze up here and they’ll find our frozen bodies some day’.

Wilson, my guide was very encouraging, although I could feel his patience wearing off as the altitudes increases because I walked really really really slow. Just ten steps and I was panting like I had run a hundred mile. He kept telling me, we are almost there, look at the light up there of the hut! So I kept trudging on as there was no way back anyway. That light up there made me dreamt about a warm cosy hut with hot chocolate waiting for me. (Although in reality, there was nothing up there! I think it was a light from someone’s lamp)

It was quite scary but I knew I must continue on and it’ll be alright. Everything outside of me was frozen. My beanies were hard like rocks! I was sooo glad that I had invested in time to research (googling for hours) and money to have the right and best clothes (Thank you, Ice Breakers!). I didn’t feel cold at all except for my fingers.

I walked ten steps, stopped, took ten deep breaths and keep repeating this rituals. Kept me sane and focused. Although, quite often, I slipped backwards due to the ice and stones.

Finally, we arrived at Stella Point. So happy until I realized that was not it. Another 45mins to go to get to the highest point, Uhuru Peak.

This time, I think Wilson gave up on me. He told me we could rest and wait for the rest to come back. Hell no! I have come so far and not going back before reaching the peak!

So, we thread on. But poor guy, I realized later it must have been very hard for the guides as they were not properly clothed and especially accompanying with such a slowie as me. That’s me!

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I made it! I think I arrived about 7.40am at Uhuru Peak. Barely any drop of energy left, even to smile but I did it.

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The view up there was the most amazing of all. It was all worth it! I even mustered some tears!

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Oh yeah, the most painful of all was not that yet. The way down was something else!

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