Kili Day 4: Tipping Point, Baby!
We officially made it to the second half of our journey — woohoo! Day four started with a super steep ascent up a rocky trail, aptly called ‘breakfast wall’ as the climb begins right after breakfast.
Like most of Kili thus far, as you looked up from the bottom of the breakfast wall the ascent looked impossible, but we went ‘pole pole’ and made it the top just fine. After 4.5 hours of ups and downs, we arrived at Karanga camp. For climbers on the 6-day Machama route, Karanga camp is just a lunch stop before the summit base camp. We were very relieved to be on a 7-day trip, and have extra time to rest. Since we only had a half day of hiking, we snoozed in the afternoon and tried our best to quell the nervous anticipation for day five — summit day.
Kili Day 5: It’s Summit Time
On day five we slept in until 7am and woke up to a very frosty Karanga camp. Morning stomach problems had become the norm for us, but our guides continuously assured us this was very normal. Our amazing chef, Frances Catunzi (or “CatunziCatunziCatunzi” as everyone called him, pictured in the blue jacket and red pants) was great about making us lots of easy-on-the-stomach foods — toast, wheat flour pancakes, porridge, and fresh ginger tea.
The pre-summit hike was easy and only about three hours long. At our last water break we chatted with the first Americans we had met on the trail — a father/son duo from Indiana. They happened to have a sister/aunt who lives in…Piedmont! They were devoted Letterman birdcall watchers and love the Piedmont Post. Amazing small world.
After one last climb we reached our campsite, Barafu Camp, which is literally above the clouds at about 16,000 feet. We ate a quick lunch and took a long nap, knowing our pre-summit sleep would be brief at best. After an early 5:30pm dinner, we crawled into our tent for a few hours of rest before our 11pm wake-up call.
At this point, we were so ready for the summit. Earlier in the day, we were laughing and talking about how the most difficult part of the climb is not the terrain or the cold or the strains on our bodies…but the anticipation! We have been anticipating the summit nonstop for days. Our guides have wisely warned us not to think about it, but they clearly don’t understand how neurotic we are. And not only are we expert worriers, but the distractions we rely on at home are non-existent on the mountain. Once we finish hiking, we can read, talk, or sleep in the tent. We are basically cavemen. There’s no internet to scan, text messages to read, Scandal episodes to watch, or emergency therapy sessions to schedule. Every day it’s just us and the impending summit.
So here we go….wish us luck!