Friday, July 5, 2013

Kilimanjaro or Bust.

It's the night before our departure and we have just spent the last 2 hours meeting with our guides, Arshad and Michael, to discuss the logistics behind our upcoming ascent. "Are we going to make it to the top?" I ask. "Hakuna matata" (Swahili for "no problem"), he replies like this trek is no big deal. For these guides, and the 6 porters that are coming with, climbing Kilimanjaro is a "been there. done that." kind of deal.  However for me and my trusted trekking companion, this is a trek that will take some deep digging in order to get to the top. 

Mount Kilimanjaro, located in North Tanzania, is the largest free standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet. There are many routes one can take in order to reach the summit and after extensive research we decided to go with the Rongai route for a couple of reasons. First, we wanted a route that would provide enough acclimatization time. 40% of trekkers do not make it to the top due to issues with the high altitude and so having a route that provides a good trek high, sleep low formula is essential. Second, we wanted a route that would give us time alone on the mountain and not with hundreds of other climbers. The Rongai route is a back route and one that approaches the summit from a distance and so many people choose closer, faster routes. Climbing this mountain is not about speed but rather the spiritual quest to see the world from the top of Africa and so spending an extra day or two on the slopes of Kilimanjaro gives us the chance to know it better.

The countdown to summit is now in full swing. We will spend the next 5 days climbing to the Kibo huts, which sit at 15,430 feet, where we will rest and prepare for our summit that evening at midnight. Our summit day will consist of up to 8 hours of grueling hiking at 50% less oxygen then I am breathing now. Although I am as prepared as I ever will be and I am ready for the journey, I am also slightly terrified for what lays ahead. At this point it truly is Kilimanjaro or bust.

1 comment:

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