Tuesday, January 18, 2011

December 27th, 2010

December 27th, 2010

Today I summited Kilimanjaro at 7:55am. Justin and I never really slept the night before since the team was leaving camp at 11pm. But I do remember waking up thinking "holy crap...TODAY is the day". We got all geared up and headed to the trail in the dark. Later on, I was SO thankful that it was in the dark. I started out feeling really good and so did Justin. We overdressed and within an hour, I was hot. We had on headlamps and literally stayed in a single file line all the way to the summit. At the end of the hike, only four of the hikers still had their packs. Everyone else was giving their packs to one of the guides to carry because as we got higher, it took so much energy just to breathe that carrying 20 pounds on your back seemed impossible. Justin was one of the ones that kept his pack. I gave mine up about 3/4 of the way to the top. I was proud that I kept mine that long because all but one of the other women gave theirs away sooner than that.

I love our guides so much. Their whole philosophy is "we are here for you". They said it numerous times every single day. The main guide, Thomas, ended up carrying three packs to the summit. All of the guides, including Jangbu, had at least two packs and some had three. About halfway to Stella Point (18,800 feet) Justin gave me his Zune so that I could listen to music to keep my mind off of how exhausted I was and how hard it was to breathe. It worked like a charm. Before I knew it, we were at Stella Point. In the meantime, the two girls' oxygen levels were very low, so they and their parents turned around right before Stella Point. Once at Stella Point, the sun was up. It was overwhelmingly beautiful!! I know our pictures of it won't do it justice. We took a water break at Stella Point and dropped all of our packs (our guides arranged for one of the guides to stay at Stella Point and watch our bags so that we wouldn't have to carry them on the last leg of the climb) and headed on the one hour journey to the true summit, Uhuru Peak.

It took me over an hour to get there because of how slowly I was moving. I couldn't breathe at all and when I did, the air was ice cold and hurt my throat. The size of my headache was steadily increasing and I truly thought that at any point in time I was going to fall over because I had lost all coordination. Tom walked side by side with me encouraging me the whole way until I got to Uhuru. He was my absolute favorite of the guides. I asked him if he was ever able to come to the US where he would go and he said Canada. This is the same thing Faustin said a few days earlier. Not real sure why they're obsessed with Canada....or why they think it's part of the US.

I stood on top of Africa at 7:55am on December 27, 2010. It was incredible. After taking pictures, we started our descent. It was gravel all the way back to Barafu Camp. I was so glad I didn't see the trail in the daylight when we were going up the mountain because I'm not sure I would have climbed it. It was SO steep! It was a very intimidating climb to say the least. I fell twice on the descent back to Barafu Camp. One of the times I was wearing gloves so I didn't get hurt, but the second time I had taken them off and scratched up my hand. It was bleeding so I had to have Ang Jangbu give me a band aid.

After a two hour hike down from the summit, we arrived back at Barafu Camp (where we camped the night before). We had lunch and then had to leave again to descend to 10,000 feet and sleep at Mweka Camp. It was the most painful four mile hike I've ever done. Going off of only one hour of sleep from the night before, we hiked for a total of 18 hours and 45 minutes. It was brutal. I almost fell asleep while walking numerous times. We finally got to Mweka and had a quick dinner and then we were both down and out for the count. My stomach is starting to hurt and I'm beginning to lose my appetite. I barely ate dinner. I'll start taking Cipro if it doesn't get better tomorrow.

Beginning Elevation: 15,092
Ending Elevation: 19,340 - 10,171
Elevation Gained: 4,248 gained to the summit, 9,169 lost on hike to Mweka
Calories Burned: 6,798
Time Hiking: 18 hours, 45 minutes

**We didn't take our oxygen levels this day because, honestly, none of us wanted to know. It would have been discouraging. One of the girls that had to turn around had a 61% oxygen reading, and that wasn't even at the top. I'm fairly certain that if we had taken our oxygen levels at the summit, they would have been low 70's/high 60's.**

Here's our pictures of summit day:


Yep...I was cold.




I told you these pictures wouldn't do it justice. It was completely unbelievable. You'll just have to trust me.


This is Justin at Stella Point taking a break before the last leg of the hike.




This is one of the glaciers at Uhuru Peak. These bad boys are melting and aren't estimated to be around too much longer. Also, this one is HUGE. It's deceiving by the picture, but it's definitely over 100 feet tall.




Justin supporting his Tigers


This is Justin and I with Thomas (the main guide) and Tom (the guy that walked with me to the summit).


This is our group! We had 13 hikers total, 9 of which were females!! At the summit, we had 9 hikers, 5 of which were female. YAY CHICKS!!


This is me hiking down the mountain. Isn't it incredible?? It looks like I'm hiking into the clouds.


This is a view of Barafu Camp from our way down.

And here's the video I took at the summit. I'm kind of out of breath so excuse that :)


Brenna Langham said...

How awesome it that! That picture of you walking and the clouds in front of you is INCREDIBLE! So glad you summitted! So glad you made it back safely!

Brittany said...

You are amazing!! I'm so glad you survived! I would have had a major panic attack. Your pictures are gorgeous. What an amazing experience!!

Melissa said...

Okay, so I got chill bumps reading this! I am so excited for you that you have reached this accomplishment! I know how great it feels to accomplish something that you work so hard for! Congrats!

Christopher, Jenna, Cooper & Maggie said...

WOW, what beautiful pictures!! What a journey...I'm so impressed!

A Bride In Boots said...

OH MY GOOTNESS, MARCIE! I am just discovering these recaps and it is like watching a movie. You are my hero. Period.

Melis said...

You are amazing! Your pictures are stunning! What a great experience!