Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Valuable lessons from the Mt. Kilimanjaro Uhuru Climb of 2011 (post 2 of 3)

5 December 2011
Yesterday Yahoo told me we are on a 7-day hike, not the 8-day hike that I normally take. That is not good news as it meant we would hike past Shira 1 camp today and would proceed to camp at Shira 2. The news would get worse in the evening.

I trekked between Mti Mkubwa and Shira 2 camps during my first climb in 2008 and recall that section being extremely challenging. Today, it lived up to its reputation. The situation was exacerbated by the fact that when I showed up for breakfast some of the other climbers had eaten more than their share and, consequently, I and a few other climbers hiked throughout the day on half-empty stomachs.

[Lesson 3: If you hike with a large group of first-time climbers it is extremely important to observe that taking a second portion before each has had enough could endanger someone else's well-being. Hiking on Mt. Kilimanjaro on half rations is dangerous.]

I felt most of the climbers were in relatively good shape because they have maintained a fast pace that, at times, I could not keep up with. some of them even walked ahead of the guides.
The climbers included Maurice Houcni and Benjamin Leers from Germany.
Like yesterday, there were light rains through most of the day.

As usual, I was one of the last trekkers walking behind the group with Innocent from Arusha and Eugene Gassana. We reached the camp at 2100hrs where we learnt the rest of today's bad news. A ranger told us that, because of the extreme weather conditions, 15 porters had either become ill or had dropped what they were carrying and absconded, returning to Moshi. Consequently, most of the supplies arrived late and some of the climbers' bags were missing.

Because of these delays, a guide said "We will have to spend an extra night at Shira 2 to allow the outfitter time to replace the 15 porters that had left."

[Lesson 4: When selecting an outfitter it is important to select one that has the capacity to resolve unexpected problems that may arise. Normally, an unusually cheap quotation should be an indicator that the outfitter has limited resources to resolve problems that may arise.]

The significance of loosing another day raised further critical challenges. While under the altered plan we would hike from Shira 2 to Barranco camp as I do on the 8-day hike, the hike from Barranco would take us past Karanga (where I camp on the 8-day hike) and on to Barafu where we would take a short rest for a few hours before leaving for the summit.

I had never done this before and I knew it would not be easy.

Next post: We rest

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