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Published: February 12th 2018
Monday 5 February - Day 8: Barafu Camp (4640m) to UHURU PEAK (5895m) & down to Millennium Camp (3790m)
Several of us had a couple of hours sleep (me) and some had no sleep (Adam). We were woken by the waiter and so dressed very quickly. Most of us had the majority of our clothes on as we slept in them. All I had to do was to put my snow pants on. We were given hot water to wash our faces. Fortunately, we didn’t have to pack our tent up which was one less thing to do. We knew we would be back for brunch.
We all met in the tent to have our hearty breakfast – porridge, coffee or milo, egg pancakes and fruit. There was certainly a buzz amongst us. We got ourselves ready – ready as we would ever be!
We started off at around 11.30PM, and walk steeply upwards to the summit glaciers in the dark with our head lamps on. Other than our 3 guides (Chunga, Masu, Daudi) we also had our waiter, Fadhili, Camp Manager Leon, Aminieli the summit porter with us.
We climbed for about 4 to 5 hours and gained incredible height over a short distance.
It was pole-pole all the way and Chunga lead the way, followed by me! We zigged our way up the mountain, occasionally scrambling on all fours over boulders. A lot of the climb was over volcanic gravel, so pole-pole was wise for that reason also.
After about 45 minutes the 6 Tanzanians started singing. I knew it was to take our mind off the pain of the physical challenges …. And it was working. Chunga was even doing a little dance with every step. Heck they are fit physically and re altitude. All 3 guides had done this ascent 100s of times.
Once I thought I could easily give up (although I wouldn’t have) but then the energy level kicked in again, just like I remember in the marathons I had run. One time I was feeling REALLY tired, Chunga happened to say that we would stop for a very short break. One of the porters was carrying a thermos flask full of sweet ginger tea. It was just what the doctor ordered. Perfect timing.
The views are spectacular, even in the dark and half dark.
We were on the crater rim at Stella Point (5739m) but we didn’t stop there. Our guides said we could take photos on the way down. I noticed the rocky ground was levelling off a little and there was more snow on the ground and the glaciers were very close. It was spectacular. This was when I noticed an increasing glow in the eastern horizon. I said to Masu “are we going to miss the sunrise” as the Uhuru Peak looked a long way away. All he said was poly-poly. Again 10 minutes later I said to him again, “we are going to miss it”. Wise Adam said “Trust him Mum”. Then 5 minutes later I said “let’s increase the speed a little Masu” and this time he agreed. After 5 minutes at the faster speed (& it was still pole-pole) I was feeling the effects but didn’t let up. Our new friend from Canada, Greg and his partner Maggie from Poland saw what I was doing and took off after me.
The tiredness didn’t stop me from looking at
the spectacular ice cliffs within the crater which surrounded us and the views to jagged Mawenzi peak and beyond were breathtaking. Another hour’s walking took us to the summit, Uhuru Peak (5895m). I had no effects of altitude, I was just tired but elated.
I was emotional, clicking as fast as my freezing fingers would allow me. I had to take my double gloves off one hand to take the photos. The wind-chill factor was incredible. It was about -15 degrees without the wind.
I then spotted Adam and we hugged with tears in our eyes. So incredibly emotional. I couldn’t believe what I was watching as the sun rose. It was beautiful. The sun was catching the ice-cliffs and glaciers. The sky was very clear, increasing the impact of the spectacle. Oh, it was incredible to be alive and ‘up there’.
I then spotted the rest of the group. Adam & I had managed to get our photos taken with the sign in the back ground before the big crowd came. Once all our group was there we had a group photo in front of the sign.
There was a group of Asians who were wanting to take so many photos (you know what they are like) and they had signs with them, so they wanted to take every angle and every combination of the group.
The sky continued to change as the sun left the horizon, moving higher in the sky. After about 40 minutes Adam & I couldn’t stay there any longer because of the cold so we started our descent towards Stella Point. We had our photo taken in front of the sign.
Kerry made it despite her bad chest infection. I am really not sure how she made it as her couch was very productive. She said later that if it weren’t for the porters, she wouldn’t have made it. They were absolutely incredible. Every time we were scrambling up over boulders a porter or guide would suddenly be at your side to help you up. I cannot thank Top Climbers Expedition for choosing such an amazing group of men as staff.
We begin our descent by returning to Stella Point and then descending on scree slope and track back to Barafu Camp for
breakfast. The walk down the mountain was very, very slippery. We were pleased we had ascended it in the dark, so we only were concentrating on the ground beneath each foot rather than scanning our surrounds. In many ways, it was almost as tough coming down – in a different sort of way. However, it was much quicker, 2 hours in fact.
We got back to camp, and I flopped into my tent, not even having the energy to walk up to the meals tent to give Jane and Michael and congratulatory hug. I rested until I was called for breakfast. Over breakfast we were all sharing our stories, feelings and thought from the experience. We had all made it and we were elated.
After breakfast and early lunch, we started our trek further down the mountain after packing up the contents of our tents. We were heading down to Millennium Camp for a long well-earned rest.
The road which took us 3 hours to walk was very rough and hard to walk down. There were white rocks with rough stepping descent. With tired legs and sore knees, I said after
2 hours “Mum I don’t want to do this anymore”. We would turn a corner hoping the camp was there but only to see another long section of the path.
Eventually we arrive in the camp and signed in. It was a busy camp as many of the groups from the 5-6 routed camped here for their last night. Surprise, surprise, none of us stayed up too long after dinner. I slept like a log, for nearly 9 hours!!
Distance covered: 13.4km / 8.3mi
Approx. time taken: 12 – 15 hours Tuesday 6 February - Day 9: Trek Millennium Camp (3790m) to Mweka Gate (1630m)
We all woke up tired, physically – I wonder why. We packed our tents up for the last time.
It was then time for our very last song and dance session. It was amazing that our legs could do the dance, but they did. Final group photos were taken and a gentle trek took us down through the rainforest to Mweka Gate. Oh what a feeling.
On the way
we say colobus monkeys and Mt Kilimanjaro. We conquered her!!!
There was a congratulations sign to have our photos taken in front of – our last sign. Adam did his obligatory head stand as did Kerry. It was fantastic.
All of a sudden, cold beers arrived as Greg from Canada had arranged them. What a great guy. We sat on the verge of the road and drank. We were also presented with a red and white lei which was an extra touch.
For the last time, we complete park formalities. Our minivan was waiting for us. On the way we stopped at a souvenir shop which was interesting. Paintings were beautiful and there were lots of carvings as well as the Tanzanian Tanzanite stone. We also had to stop at a bank, so the Aussies could draw our $$ for tipping the Tanzanian Team.
Once at the office of Top Climbers, we receive our certificates, which we can hang up with pride! More photos were taken and lots of hugs and thanks given to the Tanzanian Team. The way the tips were given was Adam was nominated to
read out the list of amounts we were going to give to each person. Very unusual, but that is how they have always done it apparently.
We then said our sad goodbyes and hopped into our vehicles and returned to the hotel in Moshi, where we treated ourselves to a hot welcome shower, the first for 8 days. More drinks all around as well as some food out by the pool. I even squeezed in some time to do some hand washing as it was too late to have the laundry picked up and to have it back at the hotel before nightfall.
Distance covered: 12.1km / 7.5mi
Approx. time taken: 6 hours
WE HAD ALL DONE IT! ACTUALLY DONE IT!! WHAT A LIFE-CHANGING EXPERIENCE. Our travel mates were incredible, all bringing their different strengths, interest and methods of supporting each other. It was so fantastic to share the whole experience with Adam and Kerry. What an Aussie Team xx
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