Today was pretty rough for me. I woke up with really bad nausea so spent about half an hour sat on a rock outside of our tent heaving. Sofi, one of our porters brought me a bowl of lemon slices and told me to eat them. Rather surprisingly, they made me feel loads better (I’ll say it again, your guide and porters know what they are doing, listen to them!) We ate breakfast outside, looking up at the wall which filled me with dread. We were running behind our planned schedule thanks to me feeling ill earlier in the morning so we were one of the last groups to leave. By the time we were ready to leave camp, the toilets which had been pristine last night were no more which resulted in more heaving from me but for a different reason to earlier! I have two questions about the toilet situation (1) How do people miss the hole? and, (2) If people do miss the hole, why do they not clean up after themselves?
Anyway, ponderous toilet questions were soon pushed to one side as we put on our backpacks and headed for the 200m wall ahead of us. We bumped into the Canadian guys again and insisted that they went on ahead of us (thank god we made that decision). The wall was really steep, with a huge drop into the valley on our right hand side. I hated every minute of it but about one-third of the way up I just completely freaked out. Matthew was asking me to climb up a huge step and then to jump from there to another rock which, in my mind, was about 50 metres away (in reality, it was probably 50cm, if that). I couldn’t do it, so thought that the logical thing to do was freeze. And when I say freeze, I mean I would not move. I wouldn’t go up, or down, or step aside to let people past which resulted in about twenty porters forming a queue behind us. To cut a long, long story about me standing in the middle of the path crying and refusing to move short, the situation was resolved by Matthew dragging me by my arms and Sean and Elia pushing me from underneath upwards, ending with me laying on the rock on my back crying and still refusing to move. I’ll say it now, this wasn’t one of the finer moments in my life so far.
Matthew then refused to let us carry on until I’d stopped shaking and my pulse had slowed down. We then moved on to the next challenge of the day, the “kissing rock”. Elia had made the executive decision that I wasn’t going to carry my own bag at this point so that made things a little easier. The “kissing rock” involves shimmying around a huge rock on a tiny ledge with your face and body pressed up against it so you don’t fall to your death! (Ok, ok, I’m being dramatic here but it’s a self preservation thing really). I have no idea why Matthew had waited for my pulse to slow down before we tackled this, surely it would have been easier to get all of the death-defying obstacles done in one hit! Anyway, we made it and I’m still alive. The rest of the wall was steep but the path worked its way back a little so you were no longer right on the edge. There were lots of false summits where we thought we were at the top but when we got there, more wall stretched out above us. This was the toughest part of climbing Kilimanjaro so far.
It took us a little over an hour to get to the top of the wall and I felt so proud of myself (tantrum aside) for overcoming my fears and conquering the wall with a little help from the main men in my life: Sean, Matthew and Elia.
The walk from the top of the wall to Karanga Camp was fairly easy and, before long, we could see the camp. That was a false hope – although the camp didn’t look too far ahead of us there was a huge valley between us and the camp that we had to walk down and climb back out of again to reach the camp. The river in the base of the valley will be our only source of water from this point on and, as we were making our way up the incredibly steep side towards camp, we saw lots of porters carrying huge canisters of water. I have no idea how they were doing that as the climb was challenging enough with just our backpacks.
Camp itself is sparse – it’s on a slope and very rocky but the views are amazing. The toilets have no doors which means that me and Sean are going in pairs so one can act as a door for the other! I realise that this is probably the least of the potential problems up here but I’m not ready to do a “Jerry” just yet. The toilet closest to our tent has the smallest hole in the ground which, judging by the amount of pee on the floor, people are finding it very difficult to aim into.
Although we arrived at camp in glorious warm sunshine, it was very, very windy. We ate lunch in the mess tent and, as we were eating, the porters were frantically running around outside to secure the tent to the ground. We had a nap in the afternoon sunshine and woke up to a spectacular sunset over the camp. Whilst we were settling down for our nap, I could hear Matthew and Elia talking to the other porters. Although I could’t understand what they were saying, the change in tone in his voice (I would guess was Matthew imitating me), followed by hysterical laughing, made it clear he was telling the porters about my freak out on the wall – I’m just glad I’ve provided them with some entertainment. We had dinner in the mess tent with Matthew who briefed us on tomorrow’s walk which is only going to be short as the summit attempt is tomorrow night.
After dinner, we wandered around the camp and, just before we went to bed, the clouds cleared and there were stunning views of the lights of Moshi far, far below us. It was beautiful but far too cold to be stood outside for long. Tonight I’ve put even more layers on but they seem to be doing the trick and I have plenty more in my bag to add if it keeps getting colder.
I can’t believe that the summit attempt is tomorrow night! It’s gone unbelievably quickly so far but we are so close to the peak of Kilimanjaro.