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KilimanjaroĒ The tallest mountain in Africa. Also the tallest free standing mountain in the world. I must admit that it is no real feat to actually climb this great mountain, many people do it every year and I don't claim to be a hero. I just feel that this was a great accomplishment in my life and due to some hardships of my climb, a great adventure also. The first known writing about Kilimanjaro was a Chinese script written in 500A.D. unfortunately I have no idea what this script contained, although I do know that in the year 1848 two German missionaries Johann Rebmann and Ludwig Krapf told of a snow covered mountain that reached the sky, Geographers around the world thought it was a hoax due to the fact that it was only 3 degrees south of the Equator and snow covered. In 1884 Geographer Henry Hamilton Johnston accomplished climbing all around the perimeter of the mountain although he didn't make it near the summit. It was believed that man couldn't survive due to lack of oxygen. Finally the great German Explorer Hans Meyer made it to the top in October of 1889.

3:00am International airport Cairo Egypt I am waiting for my very late plane. I enjoy watching all the different people from different parts of the world shuffle through the Cairo airport, although I am very excited about getting on my way to Nairobi. I am flying Egypt Air, known for their tardiness. Finally 4:30am I am on the plane and taking off due south for beautiful Kenya. I hope my scheduled ride doesn't desert me in Nairobi because I am six hours late. As the sun began to rise I left my seat for an open window seat in the back, all I see are clouds below. As we get closer to Nairobi I can see Mount Kenya rising above the clouds with her summit glowing in the sun. Soon our plane begins to slow down to land and we enter the dark gray clouds. We drop in altitude and finally get below the clouds, and within a few minutes had a smooth landing in Nairobi.

Arrival in Africa. I waited for an hour at immigration to get my passport stamped and obtain my back pack. Tede our driver was patiently waiting and we loaded up the van. We stopped off in Nairobi to load up on Gas and to acquire some gear for our climb and headed off for Arusha Tanzania. As we left town we drove over the great Mombassa railway that was built in the late 1800's to link Mombassa to the interior supposedly to stop the slave trade. We headed south on road A104 towards the Tanzania border. The road was a nice paved road and very smooth. I must admit that I was a little disappointed in the fact that there were so many farms and that the road was lined with power poles. I guess I was hoping for the Africa that one sees on National Geographic. Tede told me to sit tight and I would soon see what I was after. After a few hours of driving the land seemed to change slowly the farms disappeared and the tall Mimosa trees began to appear. The power poles ended without me noticing and Tede informed me to look out for Giraffe. Occasionally I would spot a Masai Boma off in the distance. I saw a few wild animals along the roadside mostly impala, zebra and giraffe. Tede said we would see more in Tanzania.. As we were driving along I was waiting to be awed by the great Mt. Kilimanjaro although I saw nothing along the horizon due to the low clouds. Soon we arrived to the border town of Namanga and we pulled over to do the immigration thing.

Entering Tanzania. After stamping out of Kenya we drove a few blocks and through some gates guarded by machine gun toting Africans and then pulled over again to enter into Tanzania. Tanzania requires a Visa and Yellow fever shot certificate, and they also gave us the run around about our luggage although we were able to threaten our way through with no further problems. The Tanzania side was void of all the desperate natives selling goods and it had a different look to it, much more primitive. I was beginning to think I found the Africa that I had longed for. Along the road I noticed many native villages off in the distance, Occasionally spotting Masai in the bushes along the road. Animals were more abundant here, I saw Ostriches everywhere and striped zebra herds galloping along in the distance. Giraffes heads were towering over the tops of trees and I hoped so much to spot elephants although I was out of luck.

The President stole my room! Our goal for the day was the Mt. Meru hotel in Arusha and we had a few hours to go. Heading south we began to curve around the great Mt. Meru. The Date is the 24th of June and we had no idea what huge events taking place in Tanzania was going to ruin our plans for the day, although it was an experience of a lifetime for me. We arrived in Arusha tired and starving and as we entered the Mt. Meru Hotel parking lot we noticed a very different atmosphere that what we expected. There were armed military men everywhere and the parking lot was blocked off completely. We had reservations for the night made two months in advance. We found our way in and asked for our rooms when the desk clerk said " Oh no I am sorry you cant stay here tonight, all rooms are booked, you must leave now" we informed him that our reservations had been set for months and asked who had they given are rooms too? How about the president of Tanzania! It seems that this day was a historical event and at this hotel, the presidents of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania were meeting for a peace conference and we were currently in the middle of it. Since we were dressed nice due to the morning flight and our friend knew the owner the hotel agreed to allow us to eat lunch there and then be on our way. What an exciting event! They seated us by a huge window where we were allowed to watch the event taking place outside. There was a band playing the countries national anthems and soldiers lined up with there rifles pointing to the air. We weren't even noticed with all the excitement going on although we were warned not to take our cameras out of the car. Soon the excitement went wild, the presidents were getting near. The soldiers stood at attention when the line of Mercedes sped through the drive dust clouding behind them, each car dropped a different president at a podium where he was to meet the others. The band played and the Soldiers stood at attention as they all were introduced to one another. After about an hour of festivities they went to a private room to discuss their issues.

On to Moshi. We were real tired of no sleep for thirty hours, and there wasn't a hotel available in Arusha due to this meeting so we decided to move on to Moshi tonight. This drive turned out to be more of an adventure than anything, we ran out of daylight and the road was treacherous. It reminded me of driving from Quito to the upper Amazon Basin in Ecuador but had more potholes than a Texas road. I noticed we were climbing into higher elevation; the trees resembled a rain forest with palms and coffee trees everywhere. We swerved all over the road to keep from removing our axles in the potholes and swerved to keep from hitting old Land Rovers with no headlights doing the same.

The Mountain Inn Hotel. We finally arrived at our Moshi hotel owned by a friend of mine Mr. Shaw who also owns the tour company we hired to take us up Kilimanjaro. The Mountain Inn is a great little Hotel that is surrounded by a beautiful garden and porch. After a shower and a change of clothes I went to the table on the second floor balcony to have a bite to eat and to listen to the sounds of the African night. We met with Mr. Shaw so he could explain to us tomorrow's beginning of the climb. He went over all the rules and precautions and said to meet the guide at eight a.m. sharp and breakfast was served at seven if anyone was interested- which I was. I stayed up late that night enjoying the cool winter air and writing my journal so I wouldn't forget any detail.

Day 1 3:30am awake to the sound of rain pounding on the roof, oh no just my luck it would be rainy on the first day of the climb, I tried to get some more valuable sleep. 6:00am, the sun was beginning to shine in through my window it was a partly cloudy day with a strong possibility of rain. The morning sounds of all the abundant birds and wildlife was music to my ears. I packed my backpack with all the important thing like rice crispy treats and warm clothes and then grabbed my cap and coat and headed for breakfast where I met my friend and some other climbers that were apparently going to join us with the same guide. After breakfast I tried to call home to no avail. The hotel clerk told me that the phones have been out for weeks. I then loaded my loot into the rover and sat next to the driver so I could pick his brain. He informed me that he was a Masai and traded in his red robe for a civilian clothes and drove a car for a living. I asked him to tell me all he knew about Kilimanjaro's history through the eyes of the Masai and he told me story that I have read before but couldn't find in my library, this is how he explained it: It seems the Masai once called this mountain Ngaie Ngai, the ďHouse of GodsĒ the legend goes as follows. Menelik the first son of King Solomon, yes of king Solomon's mines and the queen of Sheba was on his way back from conquering what is know Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania when he suddenly found himself on the rock strewn saddle between Mawenzi, Kilimanjaros second highest peak and its twin, the ice covered Kibo, Africa's highest point. The altitude here is about fifteen to sixteen thousand feet enough make him feel sick and groggy. Never being in high altitude and due to the lack of knowledge regarding the body's reaction to lack of oxygen he thought the end was near. At this point he decided to die a hero of kings, so he gathered his army and loaded up the slaves with all the jewels and treasures that he gained in his conquest, and off he set for the summit. Soon the clouds rolled in to cover the summit and according to legend the army got separated from Menelik and the slaves toting the jewels. The few surviving men from the army returned to the base of the mountain and told that the great king and all the treasure had disappeared into the Kibo crater. This story also explains why the Masai don't have any of the riches from their ancestors. The same legend however has a twist to the end. One of these days a descendent of Menelik will again find these treasures and jewels, armed with the wisdom of Solomon, and the war like spirit of the first Menelik and of course the riches, will set out to re conquer all the land that once belonged to his great ancestors.

At the park entrance we signed into a book as visitors (there is another book you can sign only if you make it to the top) and began to distribute our loads between the porters. Allow me to explain the details of this arrangement. We have to hire a guide to escort us up the mountain. We actually had four guides for about 14 in our group. At the park gate there are literally hundreds of local Africans that are honored to help you carry your pack or food or whatever you think needs to go to the top for about a dollar a day. Trust me at nineteen thousand feet high you are thankful to have some help carrying your water let alone your 60lb back pack. So the porters thrilled to have a job and some adventure for the next week start grabbing all the packs and food and loading it atop their head for the journey. At the base of Kilimanjaro there are rushing rivers strewn all over the place from the constant rain that forms over the tropical rain forest along the base of this mountain. There is also a monument erected in memory of Hans Meyers the first to climb Kilimanjaro and also a monument for the African porters who played a valuable role in his achievement. Our cook handed us a plastic bag with our lunch and our head guide Nicholas gave us the thumbs up, and away we wnet. The trees surrounding the small trail were huge and extremely thick and green; we werenít in any hurry and just strolled along through the path enjoying the beauty God has blessed us with. Some of our group on the other hand decided it was a race to the top and soon they were out of sight ahead of me. Nicholas stayed in the back and seemed to enjoy our curiosity with his country and answered our questions. The porters impressed me so much, these poor fellows wore the saddest shoes and clothing. My porter was wearing dress shoes with slick soles. Also instead of wearing my back pack on his back chose to balance it on his head! I told him he was welcome to wear it but he said it was more comfortable on his head. By the end of this journey I realized all the Africans porters carry everything on their head including firewood, water and I even saw a man carrying a chair balanced awkwardly on his head while he mumbled to his friend in Swahili moving his hands and arms to explain what he was discussing. Their clothes couldnít be warm enough for this kind of weather, but I noticed that in plastic bags they had jackets and scarves for the higher altitude. After about three hours I saw ahead some of our group with a few of our porters. I also noticed my porter was not there. They informed me that he and a few of the other porters went on so they could set camp and have it ready by the time we came in. Not only do they carry everything but they have to hurry to make it to camp early so the can get organized with food and drinks by the time we stroll in. After I had my bag of lunch which consisted of a sandwich, boiled egg, and small but very sweet banana, I started on my hike again. I can't begin to explain all the sounds of a rain forest, I saw monkeys jumping around the tops of the towering trees, colorful birds with names I donít know- and couldnít pronounce or spell if I did. I asked Nick about wild animals like leopards or elephants because I have read that many of the old time hunters found the biggest tuskers in the rain forest of Kilimanjaro. He told me that unfortunately the Elephants moved out of this area although on the northern slopes there are some. He also stated that leopards are very rare and we wouldnít know if there were around due to their private nature. Although he also told me that whenever we get to camp and it gets dark that we shouldnít leave our hut, not even to use the long drop (bathroom that is a deep hole in the ground with a hut built over it, and a small hole cut out of a wooden floor, there is no seat.) There were a few times on the trail that I would step off the path to be alone in the tranquility of the forest I found a beautiful stream with rocks covered in moss, small squirrels more like chipmunks were the only wild animals I noticed. I sat real still watching them come to drink from the stream. The clouds or fog was growing thicker, I could only see about one hundred feet. The rain and cold was beginning to get unbearable so I decided to put some pep in my step and get to camp. The ground was so muddy my feet were soaked and cold, but I was in great spirits. I finally made it to the nine thousand foot mark which is our camp for the night, the camp is called Mandara. It sets along the side of the mountain in thick rain forest the fog was so thick I couldnít see my hut fifty feet from it. I looked for the rest of my group to find out I was one of three who made it in first. I decided to go to my hut and loose the wet socks and shoes and take a nap in my sleeping bag until the rest showed up. I was asleep for about two hours when a knock woke me, everyone was in the dining hut and dinner was on, so on with dry socks and wet shoes and to the dinning hut I went. After dinner which consisted of popcorn hot tea and some soup I met some other people that were climbing the mountain from a different group. I met an interesting German man named Host, he was an older gentleman and was on a vacation with his wife. He once lived in Africa many years ago and has climbed kilimanjaro many times. We talked over hot tea for many hours and he thrilled me with stories about his life in Africa. He told me he didnít think he would make it to the top this year because of his age, but he enjoyed the challenge.

The Beginning of the end. I made it back to bed and to my journal at 9:40pm and froze in the dark with some of my companions writing in my journal with flashlight. Sleeping was difficult because I had not yet acclimated to the oxygen level so I gasped for air in my sleep (or lack there of). This is when the turmoil began on this climb. I felt fine up to now as far as sickness is concerned. I had spent many days prior in Cairo and felt no ill effect to food or anything until this unforgettable night. I fell asleep around 10:30pm and all was fine, other than the gasping. At about 12:00 midnight I woke with a major cramp in my stomach, it hurt more than anything I have ever felt. I knew what was going to happen but tried to wait until morning to use the bathroom. It was pitch dark in the hut and I felt very feverish even though I was freezing to death. I'm sure you can relate to how slow time passes when you want it to pass and feeling sick to boot. About fifty hours later I couldnít hold it any longer so doing my best to get dressed for the cold and trying to tie the strings on those stupid wet shoes, oh forget them, I ran out the hut door in the cold air and walked through the wet mud with just my soaked socks on trying to find the long drop hut. I couldnít help but think of the warning from Nick about walking around after dark. I thought of the man-eaters of Tsavo or the man-eating leopard of Rudrapraog. What an imagination I have. The pain was so bad I couldnít walk upright and I was desperately locating the bathroom. I located the hole in the floor stripping down to the bare necessities I had to bend down yet stay standing because there was no place to sit and the only place to grab to hold on to was the door and it swung in! Oh why am I here putting my self through this? I was so sick that I stayed in that freezing hut for two hours wondering how I was going to continue the climb in this condition. I couldnít imagine turning back in the morning after only making it nine thousand feet. After returning to my bed I wrote some more in my journal. Here is what I wrote at the time. 2:00am The same place. Well down with the pink stuff. I awoke about midnight feeling very sick at my stomach. \ I laid in my bed for about an hour suffering and couldnít hold it any longer, waking a companion for his flashlight I stumbled through the mud for the long drop, the night noises around me. On my way back to the sleeping hut feeling very ill and quite sore in the knees for crouching down for a few hours. I saw a figure in the darkness in front of the hut and called out "Good morning" and discovered that it was one of my companions who couldnít sleep and was enjoying the clear night air. , It was clear and not as cold as it was earlier either. We sat on the ground and visited for a little bit enjoying the brightest stars I have ever seen in my life. The air was much warmer without the damp fog around. After sitting for a while I tried to go back to bed although I went back to the bathroom at least three times that night and when the daylight began to uncover the dark continent I was still balancing over the hole in the floor. The fog rolled back in and along with it came the cold. I got dressed as warm as I could and packed my back pack and contemplated on what to do. I didnít want to tell anyone in my group because I didnít want them to worry.

Day 2 , 12,500 Feet I decided to skip breakfast but was interested in overlooking the cooking arrangements, I wish I hadnít. As the cooks were cooking, due to the cold their nose of course were running and they would just wipe there noses on there hands while stirring food or putting butter on bread etc. Now I donít mean to make these people sound bad, we all have had runny noses and probably used a sleeve or two but it wasnít a very inviting sight the way I was feeling at the time. After everyone ate there nutritious breakfast the porters loaded up and Nick gave us the the thumbs up and we began day two. We had a long stretch to walk today our goal was the Horobo Hut at 12,500 feet. I was feeling extremely ill and honestly didnít know if I would make it much further. I had to stop often and use the bushes and the stomach cramps also slowed me down but my good friend Kerry and Nick stayed back with me the whole time encouraging me along. It wasnít long before the group and porters were out of sight and it was just the three of us. Nick would constantly tell me Poli Poli which in Swahili means slowly slowly. He said it didnít matter how long it took us to make it just as long as we made it. It was funny because the word Poli Poli was probably the most common words used climbing this mountain. At times I was only able to take twenty steps climbing before I had to stop with my stomach was tied in knots. The landscape was interesting with all the green trees covered in a thick moss which Nick informed me only grows on Kilimanjaro because of its unique eco-system. The path was beginning to dry out as the day progressed. Along the trail ahead there appeared to be a large red rope across the path, as I grew closer I realized that it was a huge line of Ants that were blazing a trail across our trail, they were huge! After about two hours of walking the thick fog began to grow patchy. Please let it be the sun I thought. After at least ten pit stops and four hours of climbing we finally left the tropical rain forest and entered a short shrubby landscape. The sun began to shine but it appeared to be getting cloudy. I was glad to get out of the fog, and could feel the warmth of the bright sun peeking through the dark menacing thunder clouds. I feared the worst, rain. The plant life around us instantly turned to a tall cactus type shrub, some reaching at least twenty feet in height and some scattered across grassy plains in a low bush reminding me of Wyomingís sage brush. Throughout the morning we passed many Africans carrying their packages on there heads up and down the mountain as they would pass I would say jambo and the would answer the same along with Poli poli, I would then say habari they would answer Mzuri, and then they would proceed into a whole conversation in mumbling Swahili to our guide never stopping until you could barely hear what they were saying way behind us. I was amazed that Nick could still understand what they were saying. I asked what there conversation was about and he said there is a network of information going up and down the mountain regarding weather, deaths, and information from people of there village back at home relaying messages to family members on the hill. It wasnít long before I was way behind not being able to keep up with my stomach cramping so bad as my journal states. 2:50pm day two, I am now the last one in line climbing, Kerry and Nick are staying back with me Kerry is a good friend and I can tell he is concerned. My porter is gone way ahead of me also taking my water and extra food with him! We find a small stream where I fill up my bottle, and Kerry offers me some powdered stuff that is supposed to replenish body fluids. It makes me feel better. We are walking and climbing at a snails pace. Finally we came to where we were to meet the others of our group for lunch, they werenít there, we had missed them by a couple hours. I see a covered bathroom and figure I should take advantage of it. This is when I was at my lowest point of this climb. I found my way to the bathroom; it sits atop a high hill overlooking the most beautiful landscape about 11,000 feet. The sharp pains in my stomach were unbearable. I looked down and to my horror I was covered in blood, It seems as if I had dysentery. I will never forget that moment. It was at around thirty degrees and I was too cold to strip down to clean up, so out with my trusty Swiss army knife I proceeded to cut away my un needed clothing. After cleaning up and getting back bundled up I told the news to my guide and my friend. We sat on the ground and ate our packed lunch. I had more sharp pains and was very concerned about my health. I was sure I wouldnít make it at this point, Nick told me we were close to the next camp and if we would try we should make it there before dark. If I turned back there would be no way I would make it to last nightís camp before dark. So at that point I decided to go on to Horobo. As we walked on the clouds grew thick and dark, It began to get real foggy and soon we couldnít see ahead more that ten feet. I could see some concern in Nicks eyes although he had told me he had climbed this mountain five hundred times since he was seven years old. It began to rain, and if this day could become any more of a challenge it started to hail. We huddled together on the path and as I was walking the rain was pouring off my hat and soaking my cloths through. Why didnít my porter stay with me? He had all my waterproof items in my backpack. It was 3:30 PM when Nick pointing into the fog said that if it was clear we would be able to see camp. What a miserable climb, I was drained and freezing. Today we had climbed twelve miles and finally struggled up the steepest of the hills to Horobo hut. On the front of the community hut the temperature gage said five degrees and 12,500 feet. We entered the hut and all our group had already had there hot tea and dinner which was fine with me because I only wanted to get out of my soaked cold clothes and get into bed. It was so cloudy you couldnít see the bedroom huts from the community hut. But I made it and was glad to find my backpack of goods even though it looked as if it had been pushed through the mud.

Horrible night 2. I was very glad to find out that a lady in our group happened to be a nurse, and as luck would have it she also had a complete pharmacy in her pack. I told her my symptoms and she gave me some pills and I downed them with a three dollar coke, which tasted great! As I was sleeping Nick brought me some sliced fruit and insisted I eat it. He then told me to get some sleep because we had a hard climb in the morning! What a night! At one point I awoke with a throbbing headache and I figured It was around 5:00am so I decided that due to the cold I would wait until day break to get some aspirin. Well the rest of my hut couldnít sleep either so I asked for the time. 10:50pm yelled from the darkness, so I forced myself out of my cocoon to get aspirin, it put me to sleep. Then out of the darkness Kerry said "JASON!!" I said "What" Kerry said "Youíre not breathing!" I said that I was, and was glad to know he was listening. In the high altitude everyone is breathing aloud when they try to sleep due to gasping for Oxygen that the body is starved from. Itís amazing how your mind wanders when you lay awake at night, I thought of how everyone back home is having lunch not aware of my current situation ten thousand miles away. I finally fell asleep.

Day 3 15,500 feet. 6:00am day three. I open my eyes and the sun seems to be bright! I lay still to keep my stomach from cramping. It doesnít and I slip out of my sleeping bag and I seem to feel much better, woah am I hungry! I get dressed into some new clothes and am happily feeling better. We stepped out into the cold wind and it was a clear beautiful day the sun shinning bright. From our perch upon the steep climb of yesterday I could see the clouds down below stretched out across the horizon like a white fluffy sea. The sun has a way of charging the system and I felt ready to make it to the top! We proceeded to the community hut for breakfast; even though I knew the cleanliness of the food I ate it with gusto. I hadnít eaten in two days. As we packed for todayís climb we could actually look up at the summit of Kilimanjaro it was so clear, I remember thinking that is was real close. I was wrong it was still two days ahead. We began our journey at 7:00am and found this day to be more of a walk than a climb. The landscape had begun another transformation from the shrubs to a deserted land void of all vegetation and life. There were big rocks strewn all over as far as the eye could see. We now began the hike around Kilimanjaro's second highest peak Mawenzi and across the long flat saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo. As we circled the huge peak jutting up to the sky there was a small cloud and patch of snow that never left its peak. The climb was easy at this point because we were actually walking fairly flat. There was a dusty trail leading off ahead as far as the eye could see. This day I managed to stay in front of the group not because I was racing but because I felt great and had plenty of energy and was excited about making it to Kibo hut at 15,500 feet. We stopped along the way at a huge rock and ate our lunch, which consisted of the same, then carried on. Everyone was beginning to slow down and people started to complain of headaches and dizziness. I fortunately still felt fine, I guess I paid my dues the second day. Nick pointed ahead at a tiny point on the mountain and said that that was are goal for today. Again it looked close but hours of walking proved otherwise. I met and talked to many Africans along the way practicing my shanty Swahili the only thing I picked up was Poli Poli and our group began laughing and saying Poli Poli the whole day about everything. We stopped often to catch our breath and at one point I noticed a weird wheel barrow that looks kind of like a stretcher with one bicycle tire on the front and two handles on the back. I found out later that that this was the ambulance to get hurt or dead people down the hill. There have been many people die usually of heart attacks or aneurysms due to the oxygen level and stress of climbing, in fact a thirteen year old passed away recently due to an aneurysm. 2:00pm I made it to Kibo hut. These huts were different than the rest; they were made of concrete and rocks, rocks that were found all over the place. Everyone in the group slept and ate in one rock structure it had bunks lining all the outer walls two high. I grabbed the upper bunk by a small window since I was the first there. It wasnít long before the rest of the crew showed up and popcorn was popped and ate with hot tea to wash it down. The clouds started rolling in and the temperature dropped. Nick told us all that we need to get our rest because we were starting for the summit at midnight so that we could make it to the top by day break when the sky is clear and we can see the farthest. I noticed that my friend had been quiet the whole day; I could feel that he was feeling the effects of the altitude although he tried not to show it. I tried to talk to him but he wouldnít tell me how he was feeling. He is a strong but stubborn fellow. We heard all the Africans talking outside and Nick came to tell us the news that a European man was being rushed down the hill on the stretcher due to severe heart problems. Nick said that it will still take them at least twenty four hours to get him down which is too long for most heart attacks. I felt sorry for the man and prayed for his safety. I never heard what the outcome was. Reality began to take its toll on our group and slowly due to sickness and severe headaches people decided to stay in bed and head back down in the morning. It was a great accomplishment to make it this high for most people 15,500 feet is higher than any U.S. mountain. My journal reflects; Day three 7:20pm kibo hut 15,500ft. It has been dark for two hours and it is the coldest it has been. I have layers of clothes on and all my dirty clothes stuffed into my clothes for added insulation. The whole group is here all stuffed into their sleeping bags freezing. As the hours count down the more people decide that this is the end of there trail, and after making that decision they start to relax and talk and have fun despite there gasping for air and headaches. I however still feel the challenge to make it, so I concentrate on trying to get some needed rest. I am laying on my back trying to write this under my sleeping bag with aid of a flashlight, the ink keeps freezing in the pen and wonít write. My camera is in my sleeping bag with me to keep my film from freezing .I am know looking out my small window, please try to imagine what I am seeing, The stars are very bright high in the African sky. I am closer to them than anyone else gazing upon them throughout the whole continent. The cold wind blows and howls against the window and the reflection from the moon lights the rocky ground below. I think of the first brave men to attempt to conquer this great mountain, I wonder If I could handle the hardships that they faced out there in the cold. I better get to sleep we leave in four hours.

Night to the Summit. 11:15pm without any sleep under my belt we decided to get up and have some hot tea and get as warm as possible. Out of our group of fourteen five of us were going on. Everyone in good spirits wished us safety and luck to make it to the top. We crept out into the still African night and it was very surprising how dizzy I felt after laying down for a few hours. Nick insisted that we form a line and two more guides came with us in case someone had to turn back. Nick led the way and the two assistant guides trailed the back. We began to walk to the hill when all of the sudden there was a commotion in the back of the line. My friend after walking around in the night became real dizzy and wasnít able to walk and had to back out at that point, I felt sad for him because he really wanted to make it. He went back to bed and we continued on. As we started our climb we walked back and forth about twenty feet zig zagging across the mountain instead of going straight up. It was so steep that I could reach out in front of me and touch the mountain standing up. We all were feeling the effects of the altitude and continued back and forth. The leader and the end guide had flashlights, but the bright moon let an erie glow that lit are way. Every step took tremendous effort due to the sandy ground, soon my boots were filled with gravel and sand and I had to stop to empty them and catch my breath. It was fifteen below zero I was told although it didnít feel that cold. I had a tee shirt wrapped around my head for extra protection from the wind and had my hood pulled tight, my nose ran all over and I didnít want to remove my hands from my pockets to wipe it. I kept asking myself why I donít invest in some good high altitude clothing. I was wearing Leviís stuffed with clothes and a heavy coat and layers of shirts and sweatshirts and my last two pairs of socks under my boots. I kicked myself for not asking my friend for some of his clothes when he turned back earlier. Every twenty minutes we would stop for ten, and at that point I would turn around to look at what we have climbed. Wow how dizzy I felt when I looked out over the climb, it felt as if there was something pulling me down over the side. I could see way out below the lights of the town of Moshi, it was a breathtaking sight looking across the valley below from this high up. Just think of all the animals fighting for there lives at the water holes at this time of the morning and all of the tribes living down there with no idea that I am above them watching out into the black sky. I am beginning to have a hard time, I canít catch my breath even standing still and my arms and legs tingle. I have invested three hard days into this climb and lack four hours to making it to the top. My heart is pounding I cant forget about the man that had to be rushed down. If he would of only stopped and quit when he had the chance, Iím sure his life was more important than to conquer this mountain, and so is mine. I pray for guidance to know when to quit or the strength to go on. We finally made it to 16,500 feet and my water bottle was frozen solid inside my coat! We stopped for a break and sat down on the cold ground I finally noticed that there was snow all around us. I am feeling pretty dizzy when we stop but OK while we are walking. We pass the cave where Hans Meyers slept at night before he reached the peak, what a cold night that must have been, I can imagine all his men huttled into this cave trying to keep a fire lit in the cold, wet, thin air. They must have been miserable. At 17,000 feet a man in our group started vomiting and dry heaving. He decided to turn back, and we agreed that his health was way more important. We sat and watched as he and a guide zigg zagged down the hill out of sight except for the dim light from there flashlight. There were know three of us and we decided to try to take it a little slower. Every step I gasped for air never catching my breath. It hurt to keep climbing, my muscles starved for oxygen. Five hours have passed and we still had a ways to go. I kept reminding my self that I spent lots of money to be having this much fun. I was hoping for the sun to come up so at least it would get warmer and soon I could see the sky begin to turn an array of oranges and yellows. It was actually getting colder and we were at the point where we were actually climbing rocks instead of walking. As the sun was rising I stopped to look out over the side at the beautiful sight we were running late because we were supposed to be at the top when the sun came up due to the clouds closing in around 10:00 a.m. Nick asked me if I wanted to go back and I told him that I might have to, he then yelled tende poli poli. Telling all the others to stop and let everyone catch up. After a grueling hour of rock climbing I enjoyed the view that Hans Meyer enjoyed a hundred years ago looking out over all of Africa from its highest point. Gilmans point is around 19000ft. You can actually walk across the top of the mountain and reach a point 300 feet higher but I hadnít any ice gear or the desire. I enjoyed my view of the clouds way below me and looked out across the massive icy glaciers that formed the valley to my back. This is a view that cannot be explained in words on paper. It will live throughout my years embedded in my mind many years after all my material items have long worn out. After a whopping five minutes of gazing and picture taking I decided it was time to head down to a warmer place. The sun filled the sky and the reflection from the snow made it too bright for the naked eyes. I grabbed a few volcanic rocks for souvenirs and slipped my way straight down instead of back and forth. After climbing for four days I didnít realize the pain my muscles would feel while climbing down. I had to stop and rest often and the muscles on my legs jumped while I sat down.

Feeling of accomplishment. My whole outlook was happier. I felt I had reached my goal from this trip and could know just enjoy being there. After two hours of down hill sliding and some breathtaking views I made it back to Kibo to find some of the group extremely sick and some in good moods and everyone ready to head down off the mountain. I climbed into my sleeping bag and rested until the other two made it in. After some lunch we packed all our gear and began the hurried journey down hill back to Horobo hut at 12,500 ft. It was a nice walk and the faster the altitude dropped the happier everyone became because the headaches went away and the sickness left. I spent more time taking pictures and writing as I walked along and got to know some of my fellow travelers and hear some of there great adventure stories. As I walked on I noticed climbing the hill my good friend Haas from Germany, he was taking his time to acclimate and stayed an extra day at Horobo hut. I told him of my accomplishments and he was proud. I wished him and his wife luck and that I hoped to meet him again someday even though I know I wonít. We began to walk across the saddle again and I enjoyed a second chance to soak in its beauty. Ttired of a long day we arrived at Horobo hut again. It was weird because we felt good to be back in thick air again even though two days before we thought the air to be so thin here. After some lunch and another expensive coke (Every stop up the mountain the price gets a dollar higher) I went to relax and write of the days perils. We had a good talk that night and I really enjoyed the company of my fellow climbers. I will take this opportunity to explain the everyday job, life and pay scale of our hired men. There are a total of 14 in our group we have 18 porters and 3 guides (Nicholas being the head guide) and we are blessed with 2 cooks (I wonít describe their cooking methods, thatís another future story.) The porters make $1.00 per day and carry 50lbs. The cooks earn $2.50 a day and honestly they are amazing in what they can whip up with so few amenities. The guides make from $3.00 to $5.00 per day. The guides split up with one in the front of the group for the people who feel they have to race up the hill, one in the middle to keep up with the food and porters, and one in the back in case anyone gets lost or is to sick to keep up! The Africans have the greatest dispositions under major amounts of stress. They will be pouring with sweat under a fifty pound load but always smiling and singing, and wonít hesitate to say Jambo to every passer by.

Race for thicker air. Day five June 29th. I had slept well last night for the first time. I even woke up disoriented to where I was, my sleep being so deep. As I rose out of my bunk jumping to the floor my legs nearly gave out due to pain in muscles I didnít know existed. We had are usual breakfast and then began to get ready for the long walk to the bottom of the hill. This was our last day on Kilimanjaro and I was ready for some rest back at Moshi. It was a beautiful hike for the first few hours because we were still above the rain forest and able to look out above the clouds and as we walked the warmth of the sun warm on our backs. We soon crept are way down into the dark and wet clouds, the nice hard ground beneath my feet turned into a mud so thick and sticky it literally pulled my boot off. It began to pour rain and it wasnít long before I was soaked again. Our goal for the day was to be at the bottom around two o-clock in the afternoon, but due to the weather and mud to our knees we slowed down considerably. One good thing about this loud rain was that it masked our sound as we climbed through the thick jungle; I was able to watch lots of monkeys and different wildlife that usually stay hid when they hear man's footsteps through the thick brush. Although due to the rain I wasnít able to use my camera to get there pictures. The mud was horrible and soon I found myself sliding down the hill instead of hiking. I lost my footing many times and fell covering my jacket in mud. Finally after four hours I noticed ahead the first Hut "Mandera" and went to the dinning hut to get out of the rain and wait for the rest of my group. I remembered that just a few days before, this camp was the host of one of the most miserable times of my life. I didnít hold a grudge. I ate my lunch and was ready to head on down the mountain, only about four more hours and I would be at the bottom. I waited and waited, getting worried about my companions being stuck in the mud, although I knew the steepest part was yet to come. Finally a few showed up and informed me that the rest of our party was coming along about an hour behind them due to the knee deep mud. I decided to head on without waiting and left a note on the front of the hut for our group telling them that we would meet them at the bottom. As we left the hut the clouds were so thick we were able to only see about thirty feet in front of us. Most people donít climb during the hard rain due to mud slides and hardships with the weather but we had a strict schedule to meet with my friend running in a marathon in a few days. We crawled our way along laughing hard when a companion would slip, legs in the air and landing on their rear in the mud then trying to stand back up while sliding down the hill. Water gushed like small rivers down the paths we were walking and some torrents actually knocked me down when they would rush around my legs. Wow what fun this is I thought! It wasnít a moment to soon when I could see the park hut at the bottom of the hill. We stumbled in around four thirty pm, dead tired and soaking wet. I signed my name in the big book stating that I made it up to Gilmanís point and they handed me a paper certificate for my accomplishment and we proceeded to wait for the rest of our party. While waiting I utilized my time by washing my clothes in a rushing river, the water was very cold but it cleaned my boots just the same. I sat on a concrete bench and waited and waited. How frustrating it is to wait for someone when you havenít a clue how far they are away. Our whole group arrived what seemed like twenty years later and we started sorting through are packs making sure all was still complete. All our porters, cooks, and guides stood in a straight line while we checked everything out. Then we walked down the line and tipped our faithful companions for all their hard work and support. Returning to the Mountain Inn I enjoyied my first shower in five days as well as a pasta dinner. We spent a few days around Moshi resting up and proceeded back to Kenya for our flight home. As I look back I wouldnít trade anything for the experience I had on my first climb up Kilimanjaro.


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