I was up at 5am yesterday gazing at the summit bathed in starlight. I irritated everyone by getting my camera kit out and I photographing the sunrise gradually light up the mass of rock and snow which is now so close.
Before Liz and Chris set off to base camp we had a photograph of all 130 of us who are tackling this challenge. Gavin used their courage and inspiration as the focus of his daily team talk. I, for one, will be lifted by them as the climb gets harder.
The air noticeably thinned on Day 3. We have approached the peak from the north side for two days and now we skirt to the east side for two days before heading up the eastern flank on Tuesday. So today we headed east from second cave towards the ragged volcano, Mawenzi. We climbed to 3750m before dropping to 3450m across heather strewn lava fields. Undulating, craggy, dramatic and beautiful. The views over Kenya are wonderful. Eddie said it was like looking at Google earth.
The going was hard. The altitude was giving me a slight headache which went after the frequent rests. The sun was again scorching. Factor 50 still couldn’t protect me.
We arrived at camp at 2 for an afternoon relaxing. I took the opportunity to shower in the local waterfall. A cascade of glacial water invigorating me at 10,000m? Errr no. It was Baltic, made my headache worse, and I was grubbier after than before because it was so difficult to get to and from. I grazed my leg in the process which Karen attacked with disinfectant and plasters. Everyone else who showered enthused how wonderful it was. I think they were all fibbing because Gavin said he loved it. And I think he was fibbing too.
Karen has been a star once more. She has walked every step with me which helps because she visits the loo so often, meaning I get frequent breaks. She is on top of the water intake situation big time and she makes sure all those around her drink plenty too. The parties behind us must ponder on the newly emerging rivers on Kilimanjaro. Karen is a coeliac and even up here the tour guides cater for her. They are amazing people.
Everyone is doing fine. The youngest team members, Jen and Aimee are so bubbly you can’t help be lifted by them. They smile continually. The core Wobbly team that have been on this bandwagon from the West Highland Way days are all great – Ian, Alan, Tony, Bob, Chrissy, Fiona, Matt Eddie and Bundy are all keeping spirits up with laughs and smiles in their own way. Ian by his words of encouragement, Bundy with his observations like “I feel like s*** and there is still no f***** Guiness”. He is not so impressed with the tour company’s fulfilment of individuals dietary requirements.
My health is good. There are three obstacles in my way, three obstacles which may prevent me getting to the summit; the runs, the altitude and my Parkinson’s. The runs have not put in an appearance yet thankfully. The altitude is ok and I’m doing what I can by drinking loads and walking slowly. And my Parkinson’s does what it can but determination keeps it at bay. Without my determination I am nothing.
Dinner was soup and pasta bolognaise, absolutely gorgeous. After dinner we played cards and then stared at stars. I have never seen so many. There was a big cheer when news came through the Liz and Chris were safe in the hotel.
As hot as the days are, the nights are cold. I am in my sleeping bag in a vest, fleece, long johns and a hat. And there are still two colder nights to go. The hardest thing is sleeping on a slope. I slide down the mattress continually.
Tomorrow we climb to 4300m and up to Mawenzi. Mobile reception is becoming more difficult so blogs may become patchy.