Saturday, January 28, 2012

To the roof of Africa... Climbing Mt.Kilimanjaro

The view of Kibo peak, Mt Kilimanjaro from the clouds

‘It was excruciatingly spectacular’, she said. Her group had just ascended to the top – some made it, and some did not.

And EXCRUCIATING it was. Especially the last 100 or 200metres or so, when the goal post is in sight, so close, yet so far, and requiring you to squeeze every ounce of your will power. The challenge with the Kili is mostly on the night when you attempt the summit – depending on the route, you needed to climb at least 900m in altitude at a stretch to get to the top and none of the preceding days truly prepare you for it. The distance of 4Kms is one of the shortest distances on the trail, but ends up being the longest. You climb less than you think you have and there is more to go than you think should be. Physical endurance is key, but it is also very much a test of mental strength and will power to keep going. I recalled the girl saying, ‘you will think you can go no more, but push, and push. Crawl if you have to’.

When I got to the top, all I could think was, ‘the view is ok! but oh god, I still have a 2-3 hour descent in front of me’. Low oxygen and tiredness together can play havoc on your spirits. It was only a day later, when we were done with the whole trail, and seeing the outline of the Kilimanjaro against the evening sky, that it hit me – Yes, I had climbed the Kili!!! I had actually been to the top of that daunting, gigantic mountain!!! I couldn’t stop smiling silly for a long time.

The Kilimanjaro has 6 routes to get to the top of the mountain, which is a crater. Depending on the route, you will hit the top at Gilman’s point (5681m) or Stella’s point (5756m). Walking along the rim of the crater from these points, you can reach the highest point of Kilimajaro at Uhuru peak (5895m). Machame is considered one of the most scenic, but we had chosen Rongai as it is considered slightly easier.

Cold, runny-nosed (I was), and thoroughly exhausted, but we made it to Gilman’s at around 8AM in the morning. Getting all the way to Uhuru was a personal aspiration, but when I did get to the crater, I knew I wouldn’t be going forward. Just the thought of coming down alone seemed arduous and I just didn’t have the will to push myself. My friend A however, did plod on and made it to Uhuru.

Climbing Kili has been a fulfilling experience in a way I never expected it to be. Some times, when I need to push myself - may be for running the extra mile a day or even trying new interests, I find myself asking the question what’s the point of it all? (that is my excuse for laziness). WELL, may be the point is simply in the challenge and the thrill in accomplishing something beyond your existing abilities, rather than any larger than life revelation from the activity itself . I didn't set out on this trek as a way to challenge myself, but there was a satisfaction in pushing myself. And in all this, I’ve re-kindled some forgotten love and probably found new aspirations for the future too, and for that I am thankful!

A lot of people, after the trip ask you if will come back to climb the Kili again. It was hard to answer truthfully at that point (ha, ha I still was wondering what madness had possessed me to it), but I do hope I will sometime again, and may be this time will reach Uhuru too.

At Gilman's point
photo by Raven


Abhijit said...

Amazing! Congratulations! I too dream of climbing Kili some day! :)

Meera said...

I think that's the point of adventure itself.. to push yourself from your comfort zone. Am so proud that you did manage to get to the summit. Atta girl! Well you know what they say, If you have climbed the Kili there is little else you can't do.(I don't know who said that but if nobody did, am saying it ok)

H.S. said...

Oooh well done! and that first pic is absolutely stunning.

Ms.N said...

@Abhijit, Hema... thanks!

@Meera... didnt get till the summit (which is the highest point0, but got to the crater top of the mountain. still was amazing.

"If you have climbed the Kili there is little else you can't do" - sure feels like that!!!!

Siddhartha Joshi said...

Wow! This was awesome...:)

R Niranjan Das said...

Lovely travel blog. Keep travelling.

Climb Kilimanjaro Routes said...

To choose the right Kilimanjaro Climb route for you, there are plenty of variables to be mindful of.
Who: Who is climbing? The whole group's abilities must be factored into choosing a route. The rest of the party is relying on your decision. Pick a route that best fits everyone.
What: What limitations surround your climb? Are you bound by a budget? Or the number of days on your trip? There are cheap/expensive routes, and short/long itineraries.
How: How do you see your trek? Do you want the most challenging route or a less strenuous one? These answers will affect which route is for you.
Where: Where do you want to begin your climb? The routes start from all sides of the mountain. Where you begin affects cost, scenery and scenic variety.
Why: Why are you climbing? Is it very important to summit? Then choose a route with a high success rate. Do you want to take the best photos? Then pick the most scenic route.
When: If you are climbing during the dry season, great. But if you are climbing during the rainy season or the shoulder seasons, then the route you select can play into the climb's difficulty.
So Which is the best route to use to climb up kilimanjaro? Lemosho Route and Rongai Route are the most scenic routes up kilimanjaro. Mt Kilimanjaro Machame route is also a scenic and very popular route with many climbers.
The Marangu Route Climb is however the most used route since it has the advantage of sleeping in huts with bunker beds, hot showers, beverages and beers in the evenings are also available. Marangu is also the shorter route and can be done in 5 days although an extra day for acclimatisation is recommended.

Anuj said...

So your adventures on Everest and kilimanjaro

Rob@ Machame Route 6 Days Trek said...

Great live journal on kilimanjaro climb.

Trekking machame Kilimanjaro 6 Days