Went for a 3rd trip to Kilimanjaro.  This time I went with ClimbingKilimanjaro.com who booked Hidden Valley, with lead guide Gideon.  I was joined by Kevin D’Arcy, Alden Clark and Barden Chan.  I stayed before the climb 2 nights and after the trip 1 night at Sal Salinero Hotel in Moshi and I have to give it a very good recommendation, everyone was nice, rooms were large, water was hot, nice food, bar and pool.  We arrived September 25 and on September 26 took a 6.63mi training hike, 12,590 steps.  On this trip I monitored each day with health app on my iphone, keep in mind, not all steps are equal, climbing up is much harder than flat, going down is a bit harder than flat, and then there is the altitude.

September 27, 2015

On the first day of the climb we get a slow start due to some missing gear and a total backup at Machame gate 1500m (4920ft), the most I’ve seen there.  This time I brought a very small pack with 2L Camelbak and some days an extra liter vacuum insulated, a point and shoot camera and an extra layer.  I mixed 1/2 strength gatorade every day for extra calories.  We had a hot lunch setup for us, but since we left so late we had lunch at around 3.  We hiked 23,985 steps over 11.23 miles to Machame camp 3000m (9840ft).  We had pulse oximeter readings each morning and night, I started 95% oxygen content with 72bpm.  Every day I drank 2-3L Gatorade while hiking, 1L water at night sleeping, 1L tea at meals, 1L water around camp, for a total of 5-6L per day (not including lots of soup) which I think really helped to keep me above 90%.

September 28, 2015

In the morning, I registered 96% oxygen content and 74bpm.  Today we have a nice hike to Shira Camp at 3840m (12595ft).  Our group seems to leave camp later than most others each day and pass many on the trail.  Our breaks are shorter than most and our pace is good while still being pole-pole (slow).  We had a snack on the trail and a hot lunch when we arrive in camp.  We had a nice sunset.  We hiked 16,411 steps over 8.75 miles.  I end up with a 92% oxygen content at 83bpm.  Others are not faring as well and some oxygen content #s come in low, prescription : drink more water and pole-pole pace. 

September 29, 2015

We wake up to a cold, clear morning with good views of Kilimanjaro and ginger tea.  Breakfasts are large, tea/coffee/hot chocolate, porridge, eggs, bacon/sausage, toast/jam.  My stomach is bothering me, so I make sure I eat some dry toast to settle it and then eat everything that I can.  We get our pulse oximeter test and I’m down to 90% oxygen and 76bpm.  We have a long day ahead of us as we climb up to Lava Tower/Arrow Camp at 4600m (15800ft) for a hot lunch and then descent to the Barranco Wall valley at 3950m (12956ft) and only 110m higher than Shira Camp.  Climb high, sleep low and acclimatize.  Today we travelled 21,111 steps over 10.54 miles.  The group is tired at Lava tower but food revives us and descent to Barranco is very fast.  We get a great view of the Barranco Wall climb the next day.  In camp it starts raining, I am in the dining tent alone while everyone else is in the tents sleeping it out.  I think everyone is now knowing themselves better and have developed confidence.  The next two days are shorter (some people group them into a single day).  After eating a large dinner we are again tested and I pull off a miraculous 99% oxygen content and 79bpm.  I’m pumped.

September 30, 2015

Today we get to sleep in a bit.  Groups that are going all the way to Barafu today are up early and climbing when we exit our tents and are presented with hot ginger tea.  As we eat our breakfast (again I need dry toast to settle my stomach before I can eat porridge, eggs, bacon, sausage and tea) we watch the backups on the Barranco Wall.  I register a 97% oxygen content at 72bpm.  We are just about the last group to leave Barranco camp, but soon we are passing groups up the 1000ft wall.  At the top 4233m (13888ft), we acclimatize for a while, take some photos, and grab a snack and drink.  But we are soon off, again passing groups as we go down/up the ridges, finally down to Karanga Valley 3940m (12927ft) and up to Karanga Camp 4040m (13255ft).  As is our trademark, we do the last climb with no stop arriving just as the rain starts.  I did not record start/stop times on this trip as I had in previous trips but we are a pretty fast group.  For the day we did 9,833steps over 5miles.  We have lots of time in camp to eat a hot lunch, rest (during the rain) and take photos (when it cleared up).  After dinner I register 92% oxygen content at 69bpm.

October 1, 2015

Again we sleep in and are the last group out of Karanga Camp.  We have a shortish hike up to Barafu Camp which is our high camp at 4700m (15420ft).  There is no rush to get there and wait around too long.  90% oxygen content and 73bpm.  We pass a lot of groups on the way.  I’ve switched Gatorade for straight water.  9,436 steps over 5.13 miles and when we arrive around 1 there are people still coming down from summit climb the night before, that’s late, very late.  A hot lunch and lots of time to think.  At dinner, I eat a lot of soup.  For the rest of the food, I eat about 1/2 a meal and then some more soup.  Nobody wants the orange slices, I eat one and feel fantastic, so I eat them all.  A quick test shows I’m at 94% oxygen content (I don’t remember the bpm, for some reason they didn’t log this reading on my form).  I’ve never dropped under 90% on this climb so I am again psyched.  The others have dropped a lot, but that is their story to tell, not mine.

October 2, 2015

We are awakened at 11:30, gear up, some tea and snacks and we leave at 12:15.  We are passing lots of groups that left earlier again.  After 90min we stop for only 4-5 min to grab water and snack.  I have my small pack/Camelbak under my jacket so I’ve been drinking regular.  The whole night I never even blowback and it didn’t freeze with this arrangement.  Another 90min and another 4-5min break.  On the next stretch, I step aside with lead guide Gideon and let the others pass.  We are a bit slower than them now, we are still moving at a good pace but need a few more breaks.  We reach Stella Point at sunrise which is an excellent pace considering our departure time.  On the way we meet Kevin, Alden and Barden along with 3 other guides from our group who were on there way down, they are about 40min ahead of us.  Another beautiful summit for me.  It seems that some of the inner crater glacier snows have melted while the outer ones seem to be in good condition since I first climbed in 2007.  We make decent time on the way down too (even though it seems that we are slow with many breaks) and we arrive in camp only an hour after the others.  Since we are down at a good hour we get 90min to sleep (interrupted by a porter fight for tent space for the next group at 75min).  We have a hot lunch with a really marvelous hearty soup.  We depart around noon.  We are all feeling great and skipping down the mountain.  We take a short break at Millennial Camp for a snack (now I want food) and proceed to Mweka Camp 3100m (10170ft).  I’ve changed back to Gatorade for the calories.  Later I will find out that I lost at least 12lbs on this climb dropping to 150lbs.  Everyone is feeling good at Mweka with the relative thick atmosphere and a feeling of accomplishment.  We asked to have one more pulse oximeter reading done and I’m in at 96% oxygen content at 75bpm.  Today we went 30,631 steps over 14.79 miles.  A long rewarding day.

October 3, 2015

In the morning we are up and packed and ready to get back to a hotel, shower and beer ASAP (you cannot get beer at this camp anymore).  At breakfast we are all devastated to hear the news that a climber died last night.  The only details I have is that a male in his 40s was not doing well, he got down to Millennial Camp and went in the tent.  In the morning he did not awake, so they entered the tent and found he died.  We try to put it out of our minds, knowing (especially for those who struggled with the altitude) that could have been us.  We descent to Mweka Gate 1480m (4856ft), 7361 steps over 10.76miles.  We start out very fast but soon legs are cramping and taking steps down becomes hard without poles, so those that need some borrow them from others and on we go.  At the gate the guides have for us wine and beer and song. 

Kilimanjaro.  A beautiful mountain.  Highest point on the African Continent.  A trekkers peak and a deadly peak.  This mountain is part of my soul.  My heart beats, Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro (3rd Summit)

The value of our life is not solely measured by its length, but also by the depth of our hearts.

And breadth of our experiences.  And indeed the heights that we achieve.

September 27, 2015