17 April 2016

The Up's and Down's of Mt. Kilimanjaro - Part 7

11 February 2016, Thursday
Day 4

Barranco Camp – Karanga Valley

4-5hrs, about 4km
Start: 3950m (12 960ft), End: 3950m (12 960ft)

Last night we feasted on carrot soup, spaghetti bolognaise, pancakes and watermelon. We went to sleep early; I think I was snoring by 21:30.

I slept better last night as I had my snow pants on and my nalgene bottle was filled with hot water and acted as a foot-warmer (for a few hours at least).
Beautiful morning!
We woke up late today; 06:30. We will only climb from 09:00 as it is a short day; less than 5 hours of climbing. But it will be tough. All of my climbing clothes are damp from yesterday. Gross.
The Peak. The ledge to the right is a portion of the Barranco Wall
Today we take on the Barranco Wall. About 3000m up. A mix of bouldering and rock climbing had us scaling rock faces and negotiating big boulders. It was fun.
At one point we had to shimmy along a narrow ledge, while pushed up against the rock, holding on with our fingertips (no ropes), and one of the girls in my group, who was at the front, said “Hug the rocks like you’d hug your boyfriend!”It broke the tension and had all of us giggling.
The base of the Wall, looking into the mist
The amazing thing about this wall is that the porters climbed it while holding the gear in place on top of their heads. They hardly ever used their hands to stabilize themselves. That is serious leg strength!
The porters walking up as if on a Sunday afternoon stroll
But as we got higher, the clouds from the valley below caught up with us, and soon we were in mist, which turned into fog, which turned into drizzle. And on the final descent before the ascent into camp, it started to rain.

Woohoo, made it to the top of the wall!

Looking over the edge. Good thing I couldn't see all the way to the bottom - I am afraid of heights!
No jokes
Even thought it was cloudy, the view was amazing. Here, the clouds parted, a window to Heaven?

Slowly at first, so I wasn’t too bothered; I enjoy the rain. But it picked up, and before I knew it, I was soaked to the bone. R900 waterproof jacket be damned.

The lead guide. It was wet!

It’s 14:25.
Despite arriving in camp an hour ago, and after a short day, I am miserable.

After registering at the camp office it was a mad dash through the rain to our tents. Well, when I say “mad dash”, I mean I managed to shuffle just a little bit faster than before.
Once in the tent, you’re not out the rain really, because they leaked.
I managed to change into a dry shirt, but didn’t see the point of changing into dry pants as the mess tent and loo were far away, and I would just end up getting the dry pants wet enroute to either tent. No, I figured my pants would dry on me.
I want to cry.

I eventually got enough motivation to don my dripping-wet raincoat and move across to the mess tent for tea-time. After some cocoa, I felt a little better, but not by much.
Most of the others stayed in their tents and got “room service”. I was hoping that sitting in the relatively dry mess tent would get my pants drying faster. It didn’t work.

But I did get to chat to one of the guides. You know, the whole life story, the type of stuff that the tourists normally ask me when I am at work. It was nice to focus on something else for a little bit, and I could almost kind of forget that I was sitting on a mountain in a new country, with a frozen bum. Almost.

The guide eventually told me to change into dry pants, and then come back for lunch. I really didn’t want to go out into the rain, but I listened (which is amazing; I am normally very stubborn).
Another mad dash back to my tent. I peeled off the wet pants and pulled on a dry pair. Now, what to do with the dripping-wet pants… I could hang it in my tent, but the seams are coming apart. Oh, and now the centre of the roof is leaking too… Like the floor of my tent filling with water, my eyes were starting to well up again.
I will not cry. Get moving. Go to the mess tent.

...A few minutes later, in the mess tent...

I am a little warmer now, but still upset.
I almost want to throw in the towel.
How can I summit in wet gear? I will freeze! How can I survive tomorrow when I don’t even want to move from my ice-cold plastic chair now.
I am cold. Hungry. Tired. My gloves are dripping wet. Why didn’t I invest in those proper waterproof gloves?! Why didn’t I bring a spare poncho?! Why? Why?! Why!
And to make matters worse, I really need to pee and the rain is bucketing down!
Screw it, I’ll hold it.

The only photo I took when we finally got to camp.

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