360 Degree View of the Mount Kilimanjaro Summit at Uhuru Peak on the morning of July 9, 2012.
This is my video report from the Kilimanjaro Summit on the morning of July 9, 2012. 14 members of Team Uhuru Y’all made it to Uhuru Peak at 6:09 a.m. The team was led by Alpine Ascents guide Eric Murphy and supported by guides and porters from Big Expeditions.
Kilimanjaro Day 1: Arusha to Machame Hut
July 4th is finally here! Our team is buzzing with excitement and a slight tinge of nervousness. We’ve been training months for this, for a goal so singular and clear that it’s all consuming. For the next several days, we will eat, sleep, breathe deeply, and take one step at a time. Our concerns will be basic and uncomplicated: regulating body temperature, drinking enough water, getting enough food, getting enough sleep.
If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat. - Herschel Walker
River wrote a love note and a quote for each day I’m on the mountain. It’s an amazing way to start my day: feeling loved and inspired.
The Diamox makes me insanely hungry so I devoured a huge breakfast. I showered, straightened my hair, applied my Bobbi Brown Extreme Party mascara, finished packing and headed to the lobby ready to leave at 8:30 a.m. We piled into Land Cruisers for the ~2 hour drive through Moshi to the Machame Gate where we signed in, diligently writing our name and info on a ledger.
Normally I have impeccable weather karma, but apparently not today. There was a mist and heavy drizzle in the air and we scrambled to put on our hard shell pants and jacket, and backpack rain fly. So much for straightening my hair…
Within 30 minutes of walking we were all steaming in our waterproof clothing and we started stripping, carefully trying to avoid slipping on the red, muddy trail. We hiked for miles in the thick mist. Trees have “beards” dripping off their branches and you can’t see more than 10-25ft into the woods. We saw a camphor tree and tiny red flowers. We didn’t see any animals apart from the monkey at the Machame Gate.
We learned the rest step, or the lock step from Eric (verified by Evan), which would apparently save us a lot of energy over the next several days. This became a life saver on summit night.
Around one corner of the trail we were surprised and delighted to see a big blue tent and Alpine Ascents flag. Wow, we’re going to get spoiled on this trip! Lunch was served in no particular order: soup, chow mein noodles, chocolate cookies, salad, avocados and hot drinks.
Two and a half hours later we made it to Machame Hut, welcomed with passion fruit juice and our whole crew singing. We had made it just above cloud cover at 10K feet and got our first glimpse of the summit. We signed in and then set up our tents for the first night on the mountain.
The Packing List
Is there anything more agonizing than deciding what to pack and what to leave out? No. there isn’t.
Here’s what made it on the mountain with me:
- 3 pairs of Smartwool socks in medium and heavy weight
- 1 pair of compression socks to sleep in (best $60 I’ve ever spent)
- Bottom base layers: 2 pairs of Smartwool long underwear (only needed 1 pair to sleep in and for summit night)
- Top base layers (all long sleeve): 1 silk, 3 Smartwool in various weights, and the 1 half-zip that Alpine Ascents gave us
- 3 C9 sports bras, including my lucky royal blue one reserved for summitting mountains
- 6 pairs of Hanky Pankys (‘cause I had to feel at least a little sexy) and 1 pair of Smartwool underwear for summit night (to keep my butt warm)
- Pants: 1 pair of Lucy hiking pants, 1 pair of REI Mistral pants, 1 pair of REI fleece pants for night time around the camp and summit night (other people had down pants instead, but I missed this on the gear list)
- Eddie Bauer First Ascent Peak XV Down Jacket
- North Face fleece jacket
- Columbia hard shell jacket
- Marmot hard shell pants (nicknamed my “garbage pants” because whew! these pants are NOT SEXY)
- Black Diamond Mercury Mittens
- Manzella windstopper liner gloves
- Outdoor Research orange buff
- Nyima by Chaos wool and fleece hat (it’s the one you see in all my pics)
- Seirus Balaclava
- North Face Gore Windstopper neck gaiter
- Soloman hiking boots
- Outdoor Research gaiters
- Gregory Jade 38 M Women’s backpack
- Boundary bag (with a pretty ribbon to distinguish it from everyone else’s bag)
- A bunch of Eagle Creek Pack-it bags to separate clothing, food, first aid, toiletries, etc.
- Thermarest blow-up mattress
- Thermarest foam pad
- Mountain Hardwear -20 degree synthetic sleeping bag
- Thermarest sleeping bag thermal liner
- 2 2 liter wide-mouth Nalgene water bottles for water
- 1 2 liter Nalgene water bottle as the designated “pee bottle”
- Pee funnel (Ladies, once you discover how great this thing is, you’ll never go outside to pee in the middle of the night again!!!!!)
- Black Diamond hiking poles
- Black Diamond head lamp
- Steri Pen
Kitembe, one of our local guides took me on a walking tour of Arusha this morning. We passed the freedom tower, a cemetery where members of the DeBeers family are buried, the town library, the Mosque and finally the Central Market. Here they sell grains, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.
River and I are ~4,000 miles apart, but somehow being just a couple timezones away makes me feel closer to him.
Kitembe, our local guide in Arusha, took me on a walking tour of the town. We passed the clock tower:
then the Freedom Tower:
A cemetery where members of the DeBeers family are buried, the town library, the Mosque and finally the Central Market. Here they sell grains, meat, fish, fruits and vegetables.
The mountain pharmacy essentials:
- Arnica 200
- Diamox 125mg
- Nausea homeopathic medication
- Electrolyte capsules
Of course, the most important thing you can do to minimize altitude mountain sickness is drink water. I brought a Camelbak and 2, 2 liter Nalgene bottles. 5 liters a day keeps the headache away!
Yesterday afternoon I made it to the Arusha Hotel. Its address is officially: “Clocktower Roundabout at the Corner of Uhuru Road / Arusha 00, Tanzania.” This roundabout is said to be exactly in the middle of Africa measured from North to South.
Intermittently this afternoon trucks have passed by with about 8 to 10 guys sitting open air in the bed of the truck playing trumpets and drums. I asked the gentleman at the front desk about these musical drive-bys and he said with glee, “they’re celebrating a wedding! You don’t have similar celebrations in the streets?” I had to pause with a smile, “no, not really.”