I'll start with how the day started. After a long day trekking to the camp (Barafu - I think) we had an afternoon tea/chocolate/milo/nido and popcorn and nuts, then dinner, then bed round 7:30pm/8pm for an 11pm wakeup. We had tea and cookies (glucose cookies) round 11pm and started our trek (1200m plus - from 4600m at Barafu to 5895m at Uhuru peak) at midnight so that we would get there in time for sunrise at 6am. Yes 6 hours of walking/climbing a mountain at altitude that could kill you.
The best part of this was was that it was freezing. It was between -10 to -15 celcius at that time of night at the top. I was wearing four pairs of pants, thermal underwear shirt, under armour shirt, dri-fit shirt, sweater and winter coat - to bed. I added a towel as a scarf and another pair of pants with mittens for the climb. I'm all hyped to go and we start. The whole thing about making it for the 6 days and to the top is pole pole - slowly. So off me, Sasha, Felix, and our guides went (Alex and Eric) pole pole up the last leg.
If you know me, I'm a competitor. So for that day, we saw a group of headlamps far off up the mountain. I told our group that I want to pass them. Eventually we did and saw another climber with his porter and passed them too. We ended up being the first people that day to reach the summit. Woohoo.
Now back to the climb itself. Besides not being able to feel my feet or toes and my fingers being real cold, and a slight altitude headache and feeling the effects of not eating a real meal before the climb, up to Stella Point I was fine.
Stella point is only 120m from the summit and most of the 'climb' is just a slight incline.
So we get to Stella Point and take a break for snacks and water. I feel a lot better with food in my stomach and start to go. After about 20 or so metres I start to fall apart.
I mean at this point I had to keep on repeating my full name to make sure I remembered it. Then at one point I started to get emotional like I was going to start crying. And the worse part was when I honestly asked myself this question: "I wonder if this is what it feels like when you're dying?". My feet were dragging, my eyes were shutting. The altitude sickness combined with total exhaustion nearly stopped me from making it. But I made it. And we made it first.
Going back down was when I felt the whole brunt of altitude sickness - the headache and nausea and dizzyness - but with some food and rest and Diamox, I was fine by the end of the day. Just tired as ass. Not bad for a guy who never ran more than 400m to climb 5895m.
To the top
About to get eaten by the clouds
Me and Hamsa (aka Little Chris)
At the top - first
Sunrise at the peak
First time seeing a glacier
Almost as if you could walk on the clouds
Baadaye Kilimanjaro, Mambo Dar Es Salaam