After topping out, we were
treated to the sight of this valley, and yet another climb on
the far side. Our
camp would be at the top of that distant ridge.
This is the view of the
trail back across the same valley from the camp's ridge.
We collapsed into our tent at
Barafu Camp with a view of of the full moon. Elevation here is
about 15,300'. Pretty cold in that sleeping bag.
Summit Assault Day, 2 am. We
headed out with headlamps under a beautiful full moon.
About 4 hours into the climb,
the stars faded into a sky turning from black to blue. Sunrise
over Mawenzi Peak, about 6 miles to the east, was spectacular.
It warmed up when the sun
came out, which was a good thing.
Later in the morning, and
above 17,000', Terri began to show subtle signs of fatigue.
At 18,000' the condition
of our group was not great and we had to make some tough
decisions. The sight of some slack-faced climbers being
dragged down by their armpits didn't exactly encourage us.
One iron man in the group went
on to summit solo, and the rest of us reluctantly decided to
head back down, only about 1000' shy of the top.
This is the view to the top.
While seeming close, at our oxygen-starved pace it was still at
least two hours further, much too long to leave anyone here to
wait. And we still had to get ourselves down. Not many smiles in
the group at this point.
After a very long downclimb,
we were completely wasted when we got back to camp. We rested a
bit before packing out to our final camp at a lower elevation.
I almost don't remember
packing down to our last site at Millennium Camp. At about
12,500' we could breathe more easily here and in the morning
Kilimanjaro was in our rearview mirror.
On the way down, smiles
were directly proportional to oxygen content.