Saturday, 24 May 2014

Kilimanjaro

I decided to take some adventures before starting a new job. Around a year ago, I read a sharing from Facebook about the advantages of extreme sports. I found it quite convincing and worth a try. Last winter holiday, my friend, Qiyue,Jingping and two other girls went for sky driving and high jumping. I guess that a pretty good opportunity to start. Unfortunately, I was too busy with the ReadPeer project to go for a two weeks' trip. This summer, they are graduating and I'm changing a job, thus I decide to spend two weeks experiencing something adventurous with them. The plan is to climb the Kilimanjaro mountain. Since the safari is also nearby, we'll do that as well.
Another friend who has climbed a 4000+ camp in Nepal together with Qiyue found our plan cool, thus he also decided to join us for the Kilimanjaro trip.

Before climbing, we must have researched about the difficulty and feasibility. We knew that it is doable even for beginners like me. However, it takes courages and determinations. I'm not that confident about my physical and mentor wellness, but I strongly willing to take this opportunity as a way to train my mind, to really break my own boundary.

Thankfully, I made it even with headaches. In the first day, we climbed to the 3000m camp from the 1800m gate. It was raining heavily and we were quite troubled with the clothes. The pace is a bit too fast, but every one can catch up.The second day, we climbed up to 3900m and down to 3800m for camping. It started to rain after we climbed to 3900m in the lunch time. I felt a bit headache, thus drank a lot of water. The third day, we climbed all the way to 4600m and then down to 3900m for caming. It started to rain heavily in the afternoon and the team walked down very fast. I was a bit behind the team during the walkdown and the assistant guide accompanied me all the way according to my pace. Because of the rain, we arrived at least 1~2 hours earlier than expection each day. We four all felt a bit headache in the second day and the third day. The difference is that my teammates felt no headache after sleeping while I still felt headache after sleeping. The forth day, we climbed to the base camp at 4600m. My teammates were still quite fast but I was left behind for 30min~1h due to the mountain sickness. The original plan was to start climbing from the base camp at midnight of the forth day and  arrive at the summit during sunrise.The guide then decided that I started with the assistant guide 1 hour before the rest. I quickly had a short rest in the base camp after dinner and started climbing the last but the most difficult part of the mountain at 11pm in the midnight of the forth day. It was cold and dark, only the assistant guide and me are climbing the mountain. No one else showd up. My headache didn't get better. However, I gradually learnt how to breathe according to my own pace. In a high altitude, oxygens are rare. Normal breath cannot reach enough oxgens and I felt headache every time I breathed. Deep breath can help take more oxgens once at a time and slow down the heart beat. However, it also can slow down the pace. I've got to learn to ajust. After a few hours, teammates caught up with me. It was 1~2 hours before reaching to the rim and 2~3 hours before the summit. We then walked together. I walked between two teammates. The snow and cold wheather made the spectacles blur and frozen with ice. I can only roughly see the shoes of the teammate in front. The pace was a bit fast but I've got to catch up. The breath was also faster than my usual pace. Thankfully, I can manage the headache by letting half the brain take the oxygens. It was tiring. I also started to lose consciousness. After quite a long time, we almost arrived at the rim(known as the stella point) which is very near to the summit. The team all walked to the rim without stopping except for me who took a short break a few meters before reaching to the rim. I adjusted the breath and drank a bit more water before continuing. The headlights were shining up in the rim. They were not far, but I just felt like no energy to climb up. The assistant guide encouraged me and held my arms to walk together. People in the rim started to sing the Kilimanjaro song to encourage me as well. I felt so motivated that I climbed up with great thankfulness. The head lights were getting closer and I sang along with them"Kilimanjaro, hakuna matata". By the moment I arrived to the rim, I cannot help but hug the man who firstly greeted me with tears in my eyes(I guess that was the chief guide). That was the most touching moment in the Kilimanjaro mountain climbing experience. I also huged my teammates. Unfortunately, they were already consciousless to show happiness or tiredness. Their clothes, headlights, spectacles were all covered with a lot of ice.

Only after a short while, the chief guide asked whether we wanted to climb to the summit now or be satisfied with the rim, I said surely to climb to the top(even though I still haven't totally catch up with the breath yet). Then we started to climb. I heard it would take around 30min ~ an hour to climb to the top from the rim. That doesn't sound like a very big challenge. Unfortunately, I was behind the team only after walking for less than 10mins. I cannot remember clearly how I get to the summit. There were moments when I asked people where the summit was, when I sat down on the snow and breathed deeply, when I mistrusted the assistant guide for the direction, when there were some lights in front and the assistant guide holding my arms to move forwards, etc. It is like a miracle, but it is true that I finally arrived at the summit, 5895 meters at the Uhuru Peak of Kilimanjaro with three of my peers, the guide, assistant guide and a local porter. We quickly made some group photos just before the sunrise. Then the guide asked us to go down quickly. Along the way we walked down, I saw a beautiful glacier and it was sunrise at that moment. It is one of the most beautiful nature scenes I've ever seen. The assistant guide told me the glacier's name, but I cannot remember it clearly. Unfortunately, the camera was with the guide who walked too fast in the front. I didn't capture the scene, but I was deeply moved by its beauty, tears in my eyes. That's the second moment when I was so moved during the climbing.

The two day walking down didn't have so exciting moments. We were the first team to finish the whole trip on May 14th, 2014. There were two people finished on May 13th and one on May 12th. We are proud that we made to the peak. In the meanwhile, we learnt that team is so important to make things happen. We treasure the great experience and friendship from the professions.