The entire group of climbers heading to the summit was quite large, probably as much as 100 if you add those joining from the Marangu "Coca-Cola" route. At times we had 'traffic jams', slowing down to a standstill. Frequent stops has been a problem that I have yet to find a solution for. My heart cannot effectively handle the pressure of the frequent stoppages and the resumption of walking at high altitudes. My legs, thanks to the cycling exercise, are coping extremely well.
At a certain point during the night trek Jim Whitney, the cameraman and co-filmmaker, was behind me and when I asked him whether he wanted to walk ahead said he would remain behind because he preferred my pace. A few minutes later, when the group ahead stopped for a rest I sneaked through and walked ahead with Pantaleo, the cook with whom I camped at the Crater Camp on my first climb in 2008. Yahoo had asked Pantaleo to accompany us to the summit as one of the assistant guides.
I thought we made good progress through the night but the trek to Stella Point was not as smooth as I would have wanted. It wasn't extremely cold; I did not even wear the heavy pair of gloves.
Although ahead with Pantaleo, the rest of the group was not far behind and our arrival at Stella Point was separated, at most, by ten minutes. I am getting old.
Jim Whitney who walked ahead to film the group's arrival at Stella Point was surprised to see me and said: "How did this happen?" The only person missing was Zulfa who I learnt had remained behind with Yahoo, but was still very much in the running.
|"How did this happen?" At Stella Point, Jim Whitney, right, films the approaching group.|
|A panoramic view from Stella Point.|
|At the summit.|
|At the summit, I thank Pantaleo, right, for leading me through.|
Next: Two women guides