My friend Dave wanted the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro this past summer. He organized it and convinced some of his friends to make the trip to Tanzania. Click here to read Part 1 of his story.
When we left the story last week Dave, his three friends, and the four guides had begun the final ascent at 12:45 a.m. A full moon illuminated their path. Read on as Dave continues his story.
I never got altitude sickness, but I was so very sleepy. It was the most exhausting thing I’ve ever done.
Our lead guide offered to take my daypack. That became an incentive to me—I wasn’t about to be the first one to quit. From then on it became a matter of mental discipline—mind over matter—one foot in front of the other until we reached the top.
Sunrise at the summit was spectacular. It was also cold, 5-10 degrees with a 30-mile per hour wind making it feel well below zero.
One of my three friends is a missionary to Kenya. He runs regularly at 7600 feet with his Kenyan friends. At the summit he was laughing, talking, even singing with the guides while he recorded a video.
I noticed in the photos I was the only one sitting.
My energy returned as we descended from 19,431 feet to the 15,600-foot high camp. Feeling better was a typical response since altitude was the problem.
Our lead guide allowed us a two-hour nap. Then we packed up and descended to the 13,000-foot camp because of the need for warmth and water. No water was available at high camp. It would have been too much to expect the porters to go down to 13,000 feet and bring water up to 15,600 feet and stay another night in the serious cold.
We had rearranged our schedule so we made the final climb more quickly. That gave us an extra day to get down.
I was especially grateful we had that extra day when I observed another group coming down the mountain later. They came all the way from the summit to 10,000 feet in one day. One was injured and the rest of them looked beat. Since the moon had not risen yet they had to walk in the dark for nearly three hours.
The descent was steep and somewhat slippery. I can only imagine how treacherous it would have been when already exhausted.
Travel Light Humor:
Our lunch stop the day before the final climb was at the 13,000-foot Lava Tower Camp. It was a small area in a pass surrounded by columns of barren rocks. Tents in a variety of colors crammed beside each other in the tight space. Many different nationalities huddled together all chattering in their different languages with everyone in various stages of cooking or eating their lunch.
The desolate surroundings coupled with the close proximity of voices babbling in so many languages seemed surreal. Observing it, one member of our group compared it to the fictional Villainous Space Port, Mos Eisley. Remember it on the planet Tatooine of Star Wars fame? The similarity was unmistakable. We had to laugh.
• Although carrying his 30 lb backpack to train may have increased his strength and endurance. Dave discovered the most water they ever carried on the trip was 3 liters. The porters were hired to carry the largest and therefore the heaviest amounts of water, etc.
• Listen to your guide—especially your lead guide. Do not argue.
On a previous trip, their guide brought a woman back down because she was so out of it.
She didn’t remember any of it afterwards and cursed him for stopping her climb.
In truth, he probably saved her life.
• Difficulties in the organization of the trip included:
1. The Language Barrier
2. Sending large amounts of money with little information in return.
(He received simple yes or no answers without elaboration on details.)
As mentioned in Part 1, the spiritual aspects of the trip were the most important to Dave. The discussions he had with their lead guide are some of his most treasured memories.
Scripture warns us not to eat food offered to foreign idols. Here in our western culture, we don’t think much about that admonition. To us it’s an ancient practice.
However, in Africa animal sacrifice still goes on. They sacrifice to appease their gods and the devil. These feasts are often celebrated as a family or tribal event. Each Christian must search their own soul and abide by their own conscience in how they deal with these rituals.
Their guide saw that he needed to stand for what he believed and show his belief in the one true God by not eating any of the sacrificial goat. That caused much difficulty for him among his family members. He finally resolved it partially by bringing his own goat to these dinners.
Even though this decision brought resolution and respect from some family members, it increased conflict with others. In Africa, your family is not just your immediate family. Your tribe is also your family.
Dave genuinely enjoyed the spiritual leadership of two of their African guides. He has continued contact with them.
End of Part 2
Have you ever taken a trip to a desolate area, perhaps one that reminded you of an alien planet? Tell me about your adventure. Or tell me about your favorite mountain climbing experience.
Join me next week for Part 3 of Dave’s story. Spoiler alert. It involves the worst flight of his life.
Until next time…Travel Light,
© 2017 SuZan Klassen