Saturday, 20 December 2014

Vitali Maembe joins the CDEA Kilimanjaro climb 2014 (post 8 of 10)

On my latest Mt. Kilimanjaro climb I trekked on the Machame route for the first time. I was accompanied by musician/activist Vitali Maembe.

Here’s the eighth post of my blog log of the climb

Wednesday 10 September 2014
Vitali was humming some song in his tent in the morning. That's a good sign. He was in good spirits.

I woke up feeling relatively fit, except for the lower back pain triggered yesterday that does not want to go away. Yesterday, in reaction, Yahoo said, "Just take some Panadol [a pain killer], it will go away." I wasn't convinced.

The more I climb Kilimanjaro the easier is the challenge of getting to the top of the Barranco Wall, the steep valley wall that climbers have to tackle almost immediately after leaving Barranco camp for Karanga camp.

At the top of Barranco Vitali asked to take some photos of himself. I chose Kibo as the background. When I handed the camera to Yahoo and asked him to continue with the photo shoot, Yahoo chose the cliff drop below with the clouds in the background. It was such a stunning scene that other hikers took out their cameras to photograph Vitali.
We take a break on the way to the top of the Barranco wall. The camp we left behind is seen in the upper right side of the photo, about 300metres below.

"I chose Kibo as the background."
"Yahoo chose the cliff drop below..."
As we continued our slow progress throughout most of the day I was thinking whether it was possible to go from Barranco, with a lunch stop at Karanga camp, on to Barafu camp and then attempt to summit after a rest of only a few hours. I did not have a response and although I felt I had enough leg strength, my rapid breathing betrayed the fact that I did not train enough to build my cardiovascular endurance. To relieve the strain, I kept maintaining my super slow pace when I walked uphill.

Vitali was carrying his guitar along in its soft case on which he has attached shoulder straps for carrying on his back. It makes for an interesting scene but is not ideal for endurance trekking because I notice that the weight is not evenly balanced and he frequently is forced to seek relief by slightly lowering the straps to the sides of his shoulders.
At Karanga we had chicken and chips for lunch - always a coveted menu on a Kilimanjaro hike. For dinner, which we had early in the evening at Karanga camp, I asked for ugali [stiff porridge], recalling how much energy it packed when I asked for the same during my climb with Eugese Gassana last year.

I had difficulty catching some sleep for the few hours we had of resting before we set off for the summit. When I finally managed to fall asleep Vitali woke me up and asked for cold water. He said he had a headache and wanted to pour cold water over his head, believing it would relieve the headache. I was horrified; I had a feeling that contact with cold water in the near-freezing temparatures of Barafu camp was dangerous. And yet I could not find a way to dissuade him but gave him the water and stayed alert for several minutes for a hint from his tent that his condition had worsened.

I did not hear anything unusual and resumed to try sleeping which I falied to do. After the climb, when I shared my horror with one of the assistant guides, he said that the fact that Vitali believed that pouring cold water over his head would cure him was important. I was reminded again that the mind has a force of its own on Kilimanjaro.

As I dressed up for the departure I noticed that Barafu was not as cold as during past climbs so I decided I would not put on my down jacket. Later, Yahoo said he would carry my down jacket, in case I needed it later. I did.

Next: On the roof of Africa

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