Day 12: Kibo Hut / Uhuru Peak (Day 5 of Kilimanjaro part)

Wednesday, 2 October

Elevation: 4,703 m (Kibo Hut), alpine desert

Today’s hike was supposed to be 5h long to the Marangu route’s basecamp at Kibo hut. Somewhere along the 11 kilometres we hiked we left the marshland and entered what could be best described as rocky desert, a lunar landscape that has been plonked down on top of an African mountain.

This is also where some in the group started to feel the altitude problems. First as just shortness of breath but then headaches and mild nausea. Just before getting to Kibo I started to get a headache but an Ibuprofen washed down with some iso-omeprazole did the trick. It was about 1.5 days into my start on the Diamox (Acetazolamide) treatment to minimise the effects of altitude sickness. By the time we reached Kibo I think all but one of us were on them tablets.

The accommodation at Kibo became even cosier. Whereas before we were split into girls and boys groups and each of the groups in their own hut … this time it was all of us in one big room, sharing it with another two hikers. A business woman from (I think) Malaysia and her personal trainer. This was her second attempt at Kili and the first attempt failed as she did not listen to the instructions of her guides and went up the mountain way to fast. She is a keen hiker in Asia and often runs up mountains and she thought that Kili will not pose a big challenge. Just below Uhuru she had severe nausea and started to vomit. Blood. This time she was determined to make it and did everything her guides advised, including the always repeated “pole-pole”.

We had a long briefing and before it we had a toilet break. However the one of the effects of Diamox, especially at altitude is, that it makes you a bit dehydrated by increasing the blood perfusion through the kidneys and increased diuresis. It makes you pee. A lot. And drink a lot. I was fin at the start of the briefing but mid way I was gagging for a pee. Not kidding. And to make things worse it happened all over again towards the end.

From what little I remember of the briefing between my urgent dashes to the smelly gravity loos we were going to have a rest till about half 11pm, then have a quick snack, then get all our layers on and get ready. The porters insulated our camel bags with hiking shirts so they wouldn’t freeze.

The big push to the top was to be soon. Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep.