The Kili biking crew posing with Kilimanjaro summit in the background. From the left: Me, Steve, Esther, Matt, Jenn, Ema, Doug, Dave, Chris, Stuart, Mark, Austin.
Today, we headed toward Kibo, the last camp before summit. We hiked out as a group, then the bikers mounted their steeds for the approach through the saddle to Kibo, which sits at 16,000”. The giddiness from being back on our bikes was tempered by the climb out of the saddle, gaining about 1700′. Ake mandated all of us to dismount and hike the last mile. It wasn’t a necessary directive, since all of us had burned through more than enough matches already by that point.
Despite the Halo, Kili is no pushover.
I hung out with the back of the group for a while on the hike to Kibo. Then I went ahead to check on Brian, who was suffering from a nasty GI bug. He persevered through the hike and limped into camp. But he was drained. We started him on antibiotics, and Imodium. But even after 3 liters of fluids, he was still feeling pretty bad and hadn’t yet had the urge to pee. Fortunately, he took a nap, and started to turn the corner. He was able to eat some solids for dinner, and I’m hopeful he will continue to rally.
Truth is, lots of folks are feeling rough. After getting into camp, I attended to several folks before finally having a chance to sit down. At that point, I realized I was feeling pretty tired. After lunch, I took a much needed nap. Feeling a good bit better now. At the evening vitals check, I was surprised to see myself at 82% oxygen saturation. In fact, many of the group is in the 80’s. I’d be curious to see what we are at the summit, but then again, I may not want to know.
Trail leading out from Kibo Camp
The entire saddle sits under the massiveness of Kilimanjaro. The exposed terrain allowed for a superb view of the summit. The hardest leg is next. We head out from camp at midnight tonight. We have around 3550′ of climbing ahead of us. The plan is to stick together until around 4am, at which point we will likely be at the bottom of the switchbacks to the false summit of Gilman’s. Some of the stronger hikers and climbers will be given the green light to go ahead at that point. We hope to scatter the staff and guides among the group. Ake and I discussed logistics, and we will try to have a doc in each group if we get separated. He prefers that I stay behind with the slower group, since I will likely be strong enough to make a push for a quick summit if the turnaround time is near. Truth is, even the best laid plans don’t hold up to the unknown that lies ahead.
Go time in 4 hours. Time to rest.
Bikes ready for Kili
Kili bikers taking a break
High Fives and feelin’ good. Mawenzi in the background
Camping below Kili
Thanks to Matt, Austin, and Dr. Larry for some of these photos