We woke up to a clear sunny day and began another steep climb towards Barafu Camp. I detected some change in myself; I seem to have extra energy. It must be the Red Bull. I discussed at length with Yahoo the possibilities and options of bringing along climbers next year should I successfully complete the climb. It must have been the Red Bull that gave me the nerve to think I will reach the summit.
We reached Barafu Camp (4,600m) at around lunch time and ate at 1400hrs. I felt my body was getting used to the high altitude with each passing day. Yahoo, even while continuously discussing an exit strategy should I give up along the way, said I look better today.
At the Rangers' camp someone was selling Kilimanjaro Beer cans for sh.3,000, and the same for Coke. A matching price for the high altitude, I thought.
We also met the group of young German climbers, who rushed pass us near Lava Tower yesterday, coming down from the summit. I was told they had gone past Karanga Camp and had probably slept only a few hours at Barafu before making the final ascent. We spent the night at Karanga.
Today I had enough mountain climbing experience to offer some advice to novices. I will not recommend this climb to someone who:
- does not exercise regularly
- cannot withstand cold weather
- sits in a office from Monday to Friday and on a bar/pub stool between Friday and Sunday
- after a few hours of walking thinks, "What am I doing here? I could be sitting in a warm room, sipping cold beer, and watching my favourite soccer league."
If you want to climb the mountain you have to be motivated by a paticularly strong motive. I chose raising money for education. I have been thinking about why anyone would pay money to experience such hardship and I still cannot find a good reason. I can list many of my friends, family members, and colleagues who will not even accept payment to climb this mountain.
Tomorrow I will find out whether I have what it takes to reach Africa's highest point. Today, we had a clear view of the mountain and I imagined I will experience one tough climb tomorrow. I began to re-examine the expression "climbing Kilimanjaro is more of a mental test that a physical one." As I observed tomorrow's steep climb, the significance sank in: how can anyone who is climbing for the first time fail to grasp that meaning.
As we wrapped up the evening I told Le that the worst part of the climb yet has to be going to the toilet. At home I have the luxury, rarely used, of opening up an old newspaper during sessions; on Kilimanjaro I have to squat on a pit latrine. I have difficulty squatting anywhere, so squatting at 4,600m above sea level becomes exceptionally difficult.
At high altitudes even tying the boot laces requires tremendous exertion. In the mornings I tie
up one boot lace and am forced to catch my breath for about five minutes before I tie the other. Going to toilet requires perhaps twice the energy of tying a boot lace.
Today I watched three climbers arrive at Barafu from below and observed their distressed faces and thought: if that is how I looked at the end of a day's walk, this has to be an extremely difficult climb.
I have also concluded that this is a mountain that has to be admired - from a long distance, or preferably from photographs but certainly not to be climbed.
Next post: Uhuru Peak and the Crater Camp