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October 20th 2011
Published: October 30th 2011
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Not much sleep achieved before the early morning call. A brief breakfast and we’re off into the darkness. But the three of us soon switch off our head torches as the moon is providing enough light to walk by. Three hours in the moonlight and the sun begins to shed its yellow beams onto to the high escarpment behind us. The hiking has been mostly on the road here which is always disappointing for a summit attempt. Nature has shown the folly of this road already though. Carved into the hillside, the road exposes fragile rock and earth and, at many points along its length, the road is impassable due to landslides. Impassable by vehicle that is, easily passable by foot. Icy puddles provide entertainment along the way until the sun reaches us an hour or so before we reach the summit ridge. It’s hot work now as we contour along behind the cliff walls of the Ras Dashen range to reach the rocky bluff that is the summit. A short, enjoyable scramble later and we’re atop the highest mountain in Ethiopia.

We have the summit to ourselves and we’ve seen no other hikers since leaving Chennek yesterday. If it

Erosion (didn't stop JW)
weren’t for the road and the near-constant presence of settlements in every valley, this would be a wonderfully isolated place (so it’s not really). But the summit is rocky and rugged and provides views to distant mountain ranges that tease the sole. The Lalibella hills in the far, far distance seem higher than our humble summit (but are not). From the summit, rugged cliffs fall away to bowls formed by long-ago paused volcanic and tectonic activity. This is a fantastical landscape. Even four days in, the sculpted hills impress. We spend nearly an hour at the summit, local shepherd children join us and provide entertainment as they receive the warm jackets JW has brought all the way from New Zealand and the chocolate carried up by RL after it was brought all the way from New Zealand by JW.

The hike down is slow and hot but uneventful and all three of us return cheered by the achievement. Our porters line the path on our return to sing us into camp on a congratulatory note. We’re more than ready for a bit of a cleansing splash in the river though (more entertainment for the locals). Hot and weary feet

From the summit
welcome the icy water of the stream and an afternoon of recovery leads to an evening of recovery which leads to a night of recovery.

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The Lalibella hills

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