Today was an acclimatization day. We slept at Mawenzi camp, at 14,100′, and went out for a morning hike, which was virtually straight up the mountain. In previous days, we did a lot of starting and stopping, but today, the idea was to keep a slow, steady march up the mountain. This was practice for the final summit push. If we did a lot of stopping, we would get too cold. So if you had to potty or get something from your pack, or whatever, you step off trail and let the rest of the group by. We climbed over 1000′ feet in less than a mile.
There was an optional hike beyond that, taking us to around 16,000′. The group
Hike to Mawenzi
was about evenly split on who went, and who went back to camp.
For the folks who went on, Ake took us to a keyhole that was only accessible via a trailess scree field. The final approach was loose and steep. Everyone but Ake chickened out. The descent was entertaining as a we made a controlled glissade (reckless semi-freefall) straight down the scree field.
Ake pointing out the Keyhole. He was the only member of the party brave enough to make the technical climb to the keyhole. It was sketchier than it looks. Steve kept his pack on “in case [he] pinwheeled down the mountain.”
Today, the cumulative exertion and altitude appears to be catching up to a couple of the climbers. But overall, the group is doing well. I’ve been busy treating the various ailments you would come to expect with an adventure like this. Headache, cough, & diarrhea are the big three. If you have one or more of those, you are in good company. At this point in the game, it is par for the course.
The evening hike was a dress rehearsal for summit day. We were all given instructions from Ake on clothing and gear. Three layers on bottom, 5 on top, extra warm layers, easily accessible water and food. Most of the climbers are using a hydration bladder. You need to use an insulating sleeve on the hose, or it will freeze. I am using water bottles, so have to keep them near my body to keep them from freezing.
Today was the first day we had nasty weather. Thick sleet came pouring down on our tents, which needed to be shaken off, otherwise, they would break from the weight. Our evening dry run turned out be a wet one, but a nice test of our gear.
In the morning, we head for Kibo, which sits at 16,000′. Last camp before our summit push. Here’s video of my favorite Camp song, Jambo Bwana (Hakuna Matata):
Tomorrow, we ride.
Mawenzi Camp Cairn