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Trekkers Accounts
 

This is a page where my fellow trekkers have the opportunity to post their own versions of the trek

If any one wants to send me an e-mail for inclusion on this page just drop a line to steve@drat.it

Kili is conquered! - Sarah Wills

OK so actually its had a light slapping, and I know who's come off the worse for wear. The only skin still peeling off my body is on my fingertips. My neck was the worst though - nothing quite as attractive as scaly décolletage.

So you wanna know about these 36 hours?

Right. We tried to get away from Horombo Hut (3700m) by 8am on summit day, but with a group of 28 people it was a little difficult. Especially when our team of blond bombshells had to put their lippy on. Also we thought it might be the last chance to pose all together - so 28 cameras later...

Halfway to Kibo Hut (4700m) we emerged onto this huge dusty brown plateau, it slopes uphill gently to the Hut, but the lack of oxygen was really starting to bite. We saw a couple of people on trolleys pulled by 4 porters each being rushed back down the mountain - the best way to cure altitude sickness. When I staggered into the icy room at Kibo around 5pm with my best pals Julie & Oginia we all started crying. I think it was part exhaustion and part fear. Right beside us was the massive bulk of the Kilimanjaro crater which we had to climb that night.

It was all about keeping warm from then on. Layering took over - just after 12pm standing outside about to set off, I had 4 layers on my bottom half & 8 on my top. It was a real rush to get ready at the end. I had got into my sleeping bag a few hours earlier after forcing some pasta down my throat but hadn't managed to sleep. Then it was up trying to see with our head lamps because the solar generator had run out of juice. I stuffed some biscuits in my pockets and we were off while I was still fiddling to get my gloves on.

The Slog. Literally inching up the scree in a zigzag. The moon was bright so I could turn my headlamp off but I don't remember too much of the next 6 hours. Actually it was how you would imagine walking on the moon would be like - completely foreign. I remember feeling nauseous fairly early on and having to stop & double over, until finally I threw up. My water froze but I had my trusty thermos with some hot chocolate (thanks Gav!). I remember the rest breaks and closing my eyes and thinking how nice it would be to just stay there like that. On the last break before the summit a guide pulled me to my feet and pushed me off in front of him. Those guides were quite simply fantastic - one of them told us later he was trying to find a less risky job because he didn't want to die. The week before we got to the top 3 people including guides had died on an expedition.

Then it was some boulder scrambling & then we were at Gilman's Point (5681m) - on the edge of the Kili crater. The sun had come up behind us (one of the reasons for climbing during the night) but it too much effort to turn round. I guess it was beautiful. At Gilman's I lay on the path and people walked over me taking pictures and saying congratulations. So now it was really really cold, about -30 Celsius with the windchill. My hands were the worst & I was freaking a little remembering the guides warning us about frostbite.

Eventually I got up, and someone took a photo with me draped over the sign, the crater and some glaciers in the background. Most of the others had started off to Uhuru peak which is the top bit of the crater (the real summit) but I took the very easy decision to go down to Kibo. Woohoooooo!!!! Scree jumping - take one step & you slide 10. Tumbling down the mountain - we were back in our sleeping bags just after 9am.

A few hours later all of us were back and the place looked like a war zone with bodies cast around in various stages of collapse. Two on saline drips and one case of altitude sickness. I actually played Nurse Sarah for a while - must be getting all caring in my old age.

Unfortunately for us it wasn't over yet - we still had to get back down to Horombo Hut. By about 2pm we'd packed up & started the 4-5hour trek back down the mountain. I was really hungry (running on empty for far too long) but dinner that night was like a scene from a Peter Jackson horror. There was this huge group on their way up the mountain laughing & joking & the contrast was palpable.

By far the hardest thing I've done but also (with the benefit of a rose-tinted 2 weeks) one of the most rewarding. The other trekkers were a truly great bunch of people and were incredibly supportive. I've made some lifetime friends. Wonderful strong vibrant women. Not to mention my favourite arse men! Ahhh but thats another story.

So the rest of the trip was spent in a daze of good spirits and good..you know...spirits. Nairobi was like Aldgate East (my stamping ground at work) just bigger. My 3 day safari was inspiring too - the giraffes were the coolest. Would love to go back & do something a little less commercial.

Opps..where would I be without an entry into the toilet story from hell award? On the first night on the mountain I was still grappling with the squatting style long drops. I had been hoping to avoid 'splash back' so on this one occasion I decided to put my feet wider than the porcelain surround and settled down to do my business. Then WHOOSH my feet slipped out from under me (so thats the reason the porcelain is ribbed) and my delicate parts landed in a pool of other peoples pee! Shudder! Lets just say thank god for wet wipes.

They say that Africa gets into your blood. It's an incredible on-the-edge place that makes you feel like you're really alive. It might not be in my blood on just this one trip but it definitely got under my fingernails!

Would love to hear from you all & trust you are well & happy.

Lots of love
Sarah

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