Day 7: Mawenzi Tarn Hut – Kibo Hut (24TH October)
Approx 9km (5.5 miles) – Estimated time = 5 to 6 hours, we did it in 5 hours
I awoke to a frost covered tent and opened the flap to breathtaking scenery.
I ate a solid breakfast and felt 100% today. Unfortunately some of the others are suffering with altitude sickness or tummy bugs. We are all being very careful about personal hygiene in order not to pick up the bugs which are prevalent everywhere as the sanitation facilities are very basic.
Every move has to be made very slowly. We set off at 8:15am and crossed over a steep, rocky ridge and down onto the saddle between the Mawenzi & Kibo peaks where the landscape was barren and lunar like.
HEADING TOWARSS KIBO PEAK:
The order for today was again pole-pole, except even more pole-pole than yesterday. I decided to go at my own pace because I felt really good and wanted to stay 100% fit for tonight’s big climb, so I ended up being at the back of the group as they all went off at their own speeds. I had realised and understood the vital importance of keeping my heart rate as low as possible, and as soon I felt it increasing I would stop for a short break before starting off again, very slowly. Something as simple as taking a sip of water whilst walking means that you miss one breath and the heart races to try to catch up with the oxygen levels. Needless to say there were many short stops to drink and to eat my energy snacks.
As today’s walk was longer than on the previous days, we were given a packed lunch which we ate on the way.
This was also the most boring day of the entire trek to date as the route was flat and featureless except for the magnificent views of both Mawenzi and Kibo. The Kibo Huts, our next camp site, could be seen from a long way in the distance but they never seemed to get any closer throughout the trek because we were walking so slowly. What could have been done in 1.5 to 2 hours at sea level took us 5 hours at this altitude.
We passed the wreckage of a light aircraft which crashed in November 2008 sadly killing four passengers but the pilot survived with serious injuries. The tourist sightseeing plane got caught up in the incredibly powerful winds that can blow over Kilimanjaro and was thrown around like a kite. The pilot tried to land on the saddle between the two peaks but the winds were too strong and dashed the plane into the ground. It was a sad and poignant moment when we passed by the wreckage, and a stark reminder that Kilimanjaro claims several lives each year.
WRECKAGE OF LIGHT AIRCRAFT:
At Kibo Huts we had to register with the authorities once again after which we went to our tents for a rest but I could not sleep. Every movement had to be made really slowly and even tying boot laces was an effort. I took 400mg Ibuprofen as a precaution (my second dose of medication on the trip) as I had the beginnings of a slight headache. The afternoon was spent in my tent or simply walking around slowly admiring the views.
KIBO HUT CAMP WITH MAWENZI PEAK IN THE BACKGROUND:
We had dinner earlier than usual and there was total silence around the table as everyone’s thoughts were on the big climb later that night. I was not hungry but forced myself to eat as much as possible to prepare for tonight. Saumu came in after dinner and gave us our final briefing before we all went to our tents to try and get some rest. I packed all my bags ready for the big one, laid out my clothes and climbed into my sleeping bag to try and get some rest. I was sure that I would not be able to sleep.
Night camp: Kibo Hut Camp (4700m / 15,400 ft)
Height climbed today: 370m / 1200ft
Temperatures: 10-15C / 50-59F during day to around 3C / 37F inside tent at night
Climate: Sunny & cloudy. Very windy.