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Entry 27 // Summiting Kilimanjaro is a Piece of Cake!

Update by: Luke | February 19th, 2011

Nick's story left us off in some girls sleeping bags at camp 4. The last camp before the summitt. Don't worry, there were no girls with us. We were just being nice Americans by letting them use our fancy, warm, comfortable, and stinky sleeping bags. We power up for final push, by cat napping for a few hours and debating on taking the $5 trecking poles with us. They start waking people up around 10:30 p.m. and shuffling them out the door like prisonors in a camp. We get to sleep in and drink some tea like the generals. We finally get the boot around midnight, and have the advantage of starting the climb already cold. You see the others are warm and comfortable because they have addiquite gear. We gave our only addiquite gear to the dutch girls (sleeping bags.) Timmer brings his poles and Nick and I start the climb without them. Soon we catch up to the pack and I jump a head taking photos of the process. We try to get our guide to sing "The Fresh Prince of Bellair" but he won't. That doesn't stop us from singing, while passing people along the way. We are in very good spirits and make good time up stage one of the hill. Nick and I are glad we don't have poles at this point.Half way up this main steep section, we meet up with the Danish girls, they sort of wish us good luck, and we continue on. For this next leg, our guide Richard, slows down and walks with Ann Marie, while us three guys continue on with a new guide. Soon we are at Gilmands point, or Gillroys or Gibsons, or whatever it's called. It's really cold now. It's probably 3:30 A.M. by now. The coldest part of the night. My hands are freezing. My body is cold. I do NOT feel like getting out my camera, but I do. I shine my flash light on Timmers face and get his thoughts on the climb. Then I shine my light on Nicks face and get his thoughts. Next is my turn. I shine my light on my face, to get my interview. (my interview was never recorded. When looking for the footage I couldn't find it.) It is sooooooo hard to not make mistakes while documenting this process. People aren't always in the mood to go along with filming. I tried my best.

We continue on in the pitch black. Now I am trying to warm up form the filming. The trail has leveled out. In fact we only have about 300 more meters in elevation to go. The trail however gets rougher from the snow/rocks/ice chucks everywhere. We pick and prod along, but it's not fast enough. Timmer is starting to drop back at this point and the guide notices. He takes Timmers backpack for him. Leaving his with just the trecking poles. Nick takes the middle, and I tailgate the guide. I want him to go faster, so I can work up some heat. Man, I am cold. We continue to pass people until there is no one else to pass. I ask the guide to go faster, he says no. I tell him, I am cold, and need to walk faster. I feel fine at this point, just cold. Nick looks like a zombie just step after step keeping up just fine, but showing no emotion. Timmer is struggling with the pace. Breathing hard. Everytime we stop to wait for him to catch up. I huddle up next to everyone. I've had enought of this I'm off.

My new stradgy is to just leave the pack. I mean there is only one trail. I take off ahead of the guide. He calls me back. I walk back, and then turn around and walk ahead again. This may work out. I can walk 100 feet in front of everyone then walk back down the hill to meet back up and so on. I think this should keep me warm enough. After 30 minutes of this we are getting close to the top. We are staring to meet up with other climbers who are merged onto our trail from a different route. I ask the guide if now I can take off on my own. He lets me and I troump towards the top of the highest mountain in Africa. I get to the top alone, but there are some people their from different routes. They are hugging and laughing. I sneak in their group and starte hugging strangers. Real long hugs, rubbing their back. This is keeping me from shivering. I like this.

After 10 minutes I see our guide, Nick and Timmer. They made it. We are early. Way too early. They plan the hike so you get there at sunrise, but it is still pitch black. Not ideal for photos and definitally hard to get video footage. Now it's time to get even colder. I take off my gloves and start filming our thoughts. I mention how I am still happy with no treking poles, Nick stays somthing, but his words are mumbled and his snot icicle makes him look pretty funny. Timmer is really glad to be at the top. We get the photo and leave. My fingers wouldn't work to zip up my coat. Finally after struggling for a bit the zipper goes. I am asked to take a picture for a guy. I gladly accept. When I take the picture my hand is in the way. I try again, but the battery dies. OH NO! I just ruined this guys life!!! I take a picture of him with my camera and promise to email it to him later. (I'm not sure the top of Kilimanjaro is a good place to make promises.) We did it, we made it, I'm cold, I'm leaving!!!

I take off in a half-jog back down the trail. I'm flying past people with a bigger smile on my face than theirs. After about 45 minutes the sun starts to show its self and the temp begins to raise a fuzz buzz. Now I can stop again to take some pictures.

Self TimerAs I am messing around, Timmer and Nick catch up. We walk together back to Gilmans point. Along the way we pass our Danish friends and Ann Marie. We wish them luck and continue on.

Gilmans point, second time aroundAfter Gilmans point, it's basically a steep straigh grade all the way down to the base camp.Timmer loves his treking poles and "ski's" down the loose gravel.Now that I am warm, I slow up the pace. I am now last. Nick is in the lead with the guide. Timmer is in the middle and I am last. I stop and lay down, letting the sun back on my skin. I am warm and tired. I take a 15 minute power-up nap. No one passes me during this, but I wake up to getting called out. The guide is waving me down. What is this? We are hours ahead of most people. I'm taking a little break. It is so hard to walk down this stuff for me and Timmer. Nick just zombie man walks it with the guide no breaks. Timmer and I both do the "skiing" where you hop and skip back and forth for 15 seconds then take a break to catch your breath. It seems like everytime we stop the guide is waving us to keep going. It probably take 2 hours to do this section. It's unbelievable. At the bottom our guide gives us a cup of fake Gateraid. I take a nap on the picknick table in the sun. We eat some food. We rest for a few hours.

During this time, Nick is reading prescription bottles for a girl that went blind during the hike. Turns out she was friends with the guy who I took his solo picture. She is in great shape, but near the top her vision suddenly went blurry. She was escorted down the hilll and even now couldn't read. Obviously she is dissapointed, but it could be worse. Just two days ago a woman died on the peak. This stuff happens semi-regulary, they just keep it hidden and don't tell you about it.

Anyway, we better take off again. We don't want our muscles to stiffen up. We still have another 12 k to walk before camp...

The next day we wake up in the Danish girls sleeping bags again. The girls rolled into camp late the previous evening and of course wanted our good bags. I was so cold during the night, that I jumped into Nick's bunch near the morning and Timmer followed suit. Our roommate Ann Marie woke up to 3 of us in a dog pile. She wasn't fazed. She is getting used to our humor and stupidity. Today we will walk the rest of the way to the van.

Along the way we see a monkey, put on nautral deoderent, and tease a mongooose with our undercooked eggs they gave us for lunch. It's was a great relaxing walk.
I want to thank our guide Richard for bringing his umbrella. The guides do that so it won't rain and it didn't! We ar pretty lucky to have had such great weather. Well...except for the fact that it was one of the coldest summits our guide could remember, and he has climbed it 200 + times.

This is what I wore for the Summit.

Long John Shirt
Rain/Wind breaker

Long John Pants
REI travel Pants
Smart wool socks
Rain/WInd Pants

$8 rented hiking boots
$6 rented gloves
Timmer's hat






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