Today was a hard day – difficult long hike back down from summit and very hard long hike to our next campsite. Have just washed and going for dinner and will read all our tweets of congrats – so relieved it’s done! Summit night is a unique experience. The hardest thing I’ve ever done. The route is a dark barren wilderness filled with rocks and stones.
You are enveloped in darkness, your only light a dim pool from your headlamp and bright stars in an icy indifferent sky. We were so lucky to have Venus perfectly aligned with a thin Cheshire cat smile moon and because of the meteor shower, shooting stars cascaded throughout the night. You are in file, but utterly alone. You look up and there is an endless line of headlamps above you, constantly moving and ascending it what feels like a never-ending climb. The ascent to Stellar peak is particularly harsh. The landscape is harsh, you can’t catch your breath, you shuffle forward leaning on walking poles, one torturous, freezing step at a time, concentrating on your breathing, counting steps and literally willing yourself forward. We rested just before Stellar point for the most beautiful sunrise in the world – one that brought with it warmth and comfort and renewed purpose. At Stellar we rested again until Lance gathered us and said, ‘Come on girls, you’ve made it, let’s go get the summit’ and we did. It’s still a further hour and although the walk is not as arduous, it feels like a small lifetime of hell to get there.
Along the way, people who have already summited and who are on their way back encourage and congratulate you and move you forward. Most of us were feeling dreadful – exhausted, headachy, nauseous, spent. We found a partner and in pairs and small groups, arm in arm made our way to Uhuru peak and salvation. It is immeasurably beautiful up there, you look down on banks of clouds, and shelves of glaciers and you weep because you can’t imagine how you survived to be standing on the roof of Africa. We hugged and cried and laughed and took lots of photos. I am so grateful, so blessed, so privileged to have experienced this. Thank you to all of you – family and friends who made this profound journey possible. I love you all.
Kili Clim Update DAY 7. 5:15am. Wednesday 15 August.
The descent is a whole other story – pure pain! Nuff said. We made it to Mweka camp in the late afternoon and early evening. Supper was very special and we all shared some initial thoughts about our individual summit experiences. Had the best sleep ever last night! We will breakfast early and have a thank you and gift giving for the amazing porters, guides and camp staff who have helped us every step of the way. Then a 3 hour trek through beautiful rain forest to the gate. We will be bussed into town where we will shop and browse and then onto the hotel for SHOWERS!! Don’t think there’s enough shampoo and soap in the world.
Kili Climb Update FINAL. 11:25pm. Wednesday 15 August.
Back at the hotel – stopped in town on the way home to get a feel of Tanzania and shopping. Now all washed and clean – we were CAKED in mountain dust – under our nails, ingrained in our skin, in our nasal cavities! Having another farewell ceremony with the guides – at 6:00 – then dinner and debrief. Don’t think any of us will sleep tonight – too buzzed and we have to leave at 2:00 for the airport anyway. Can’t wait to see you tomorrow and hug my babies.
By Tali Frankel