Kilimanjaro Diary: Trekking doesn’t get better than this

This is what my office looked like in the evening: writing this diary in the mess tent
This is what my office looked like in the evening: writing this diary in the mess tent

Another ten hours’ sleep – when I texted Mayrav and told her, she said I am sleeping more than her.

Aron and I got into our sleeping bags (emphasis on the plural) it struck us how warm it was – I slept in a single layer last night.

We were given a lie-in this morning to 6.30am.

Clothes are now starting to get grubby. We all chose what quantity of each clothing to bring and I brought only one pair of walking trousers which are now pretty dirty!

When I woke up I had the tightest headache and took two paracetamol tablets. Many other are on regular Diamox now.

It is Marc’s birthday today and we sang Happy Birthday at every stop, every meal and anytime we met another group.

The first half of today’s walk was simply amazing. It was scrambling up the Barranco Wall – often on all fours. We were all grinning from ear to ear including the ones who had originally claimed to be scared of heights.

By now, the fifth day, we are used to drinking four to five litres and its ultimate consequences. We pee all the time. And even the most respectful first time campers are only moving a short distance from the path to take a leak. The threat of walking up in the night often means we try to stop drinking by 5 or 6 pm – so we cram the 5 litres into a short day.

And the symptom of the attitude is our cognitive abilities are slowing down. On a few occasions I have put an item of clothing down and lost it immediately. We are all losing and finding things. Remembering our children’s ages and dates of birth has become a laughing joke around camp. Simon Leigh had a stutter today for the first time. We are all making a friendly joke of these slip ups.

Today’s walk was short, so we arrived at camp at lunchtime. After a lovely soup and pasta lunch we were given a briefing about tomorrow night’s summit. We are so close – and the enormity of the challenge is staring us in the face. When we left the briefing in the tent, the cloud cleared and the peak was looking down on us. We haven’t seen the peak for a couple of days and it is now magnified considerably – it is within distance. We know how we perform, how many snacks we are eating and so on – so now we need to conserve enough snacks and energy for the summit.

When we woke up this morning Perry had a problem with his eye – it had dried and his eyelid stuck. He had a few eye drops and wore sunglasses the rest of the day. By the time he arrived at camp he was in a bad way. The doctor announced that Perry needed to go to hospital for his eye and that his climb was over. The entire mood in the camp became sombre. We hugged Perry and wished him well. We are so remote that he still has to walk six hours to a road, to pick up transport to the hospital.

I still don’t have any side effects. Watching my friends in pain, discomfort and mentally struggling I look at them as the heroes of the group. They are constantly battling demons and poor luck that no training could have prepared them for. For me, and just a handful of others in the group, this week is simply back to back amazing walks in some spectacular scenery.

Tonight is Friday night, the start of the Jewish Sabbath. I miss my family terribly, despite exchanging several text messages with my wife each day. Friday nights are very special to our family and being away from them is very difficult.

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