I woke up around 3 am to send the rest of the Team Ubuntu on their way to reach for the top. I was feeling better myself but still knew that this day was out of reach for me. Wanted to though wake up to see the rest of the team off so we had breakfast and everyone got into their summit gear as it was the coldest night so far a few degrees below zero probably. I felt excited for them but also a bit worried how everything will go as I knew it was going to be a very tough day for them.
After the team head out towards the summit in pitch dark I went back to my tent and fell asleep again. I slept until around 6:30 am when the porters started to wake up and the sun began to shine so bright I could not sleep anymore. Since there is no shade it is really hot by the time it is shining directly to your tent!
The cook made me second breakfast so another bowl of oatmeal, my favourite, and a bit of coffee. After we ate the porters asked if I want to come with them a bit higher towards the summit to look at the views. I thought why not, I would not climb hundreds of meters just a bit higher, take a few photos and come back. Turned my sports watch on to monitor myself and altitude and off we went. Pole, pole, slowly, slowly!
Around 46 meters ascent and 700 meters I started feeling weird. My ear drums began to feel like they are about to burst, after that I started to feel dizzy and I felt like my orientation was getting a bit strange. I was afraid I might faint and fall over so said to the guide that I think this is my top, I will just sit here, take a few photos, wait for this to pass and walk back down.
It was such a scary feeling that I had no desire to pursue any further. I had found my summit (4785 meters) and got affirmation that I had made the right decision the day before deciding not to try and to reach the summit. Maybe, just maybe this was the thing my gut feeling was pounding in my head the other day. I would not have made it very far anyway!
Relax and enjoy the views
So I went back to my tent and lied down a bit. I felt better fairly quickly and began to read a book. Having read the book a while I thought I would take a short walk up a cliff next to camp and took a photo down to our camp and towards the Kibo camp huts. Just climbing up there was an endeavours and felt exhausting, but the views were nice. I enjoyed just being there and looking at the view wondering how did I get here? And then wow, I’m here, I really made it all the way here.
After that relief that the “worst” was over for me. No more headaches and tomorrow we would be heading down back to normal every day life with comfortable bed, toilet and hot shower, nice! (little did we know then… Covid-19 was lurking just around the corner and our lives would never be the same).
It was completely still. Not a breath of wind and so hot that you could not be inside your tent, but we had to stay in the big mess tent. So I read for a while on my tablet and this tiny mouse kept me company coming and going from the tent getting food from the floor. I also talked to quite many of the porters as they came and went asking me how I am doing about their lives and how many children they had and so on.
It was nice to learn about their lives and family. Especially this talk with one young porter about 24 years paused me for a while. We spoke about domestic animals, then pets and I mentioned that we do not have any other animals, just a pet cat, to which he responded with a question “But where do you get your milk then?”, realizing he meant that if we do not have cow, where does the milk come from.
I explained to him that we live in a city and we are not allowed to have any other animals so we buy milk from the shop. Such different worlds we live in, I actually envy his uncomplicated world. No office work, no huge traffic jams and concrete jungle around you going to work every day, only nature. Then nature showed it’s might and the weather turned nasty. We could feel the wind picking up and see the clouds moving in on our camp so I had to go to my tent and close all the zippers before it would pour in.
Managed to get to my tent before it started pouring and this time it was not rain, but hail. Closed all the zippers which I had just opened a bit earlier to get the air flowing as it was badly heated sauna. The storm did not last too long, but I can imagine the rest of the team being hit by this at the summit hoping they were not hit too bad as the hail would hurt!
Team Ubuntu arriving one, by one
It was about lunch time when we got info that Rob would be coming down soon. He was feeling bad having diarrhoea and temperature already before left and had decided to go as far as Gilmann’s point and then turn back. Our guide Mike came back already earlier to keep me company and be the “base camp” guy with the satellite phone. So me and Mike climbed up to greet him and he was not feeling too good. His calves were killing him of all the up and down and probably due to loosing fluids earlier. I gave him some Magnesium and he managed to take a bit to drink, but head pretty much straight to bed which was definitely a good choice after that endeavour.
The rest of the team came back before dark and I kept looking at the hill side them coming down like little ants. It’s strange how distances here are completely scewed. It looks like they are just around that rock but they are still kilometer away…
Everyone arrived back safe reaching the own summit Uhuru Peak. Some in better, some in worse condition, but walking on their own feet. They were so tired both physically and mentally that I felt a bit guilty that I had been enjoying the sunshine and reading a book all day talking to our porters.
I tried to help them the best I could as I had energy and they didn’t. Food, drink, CO2 monitoring. All good, three with a little low measurements. Me and Mike kept track on how they were doing and I was so proud of them. I truly think the team is amazing and we all did such a great job in helping each other to reach our dreams and goals.
It was clear it was going to be an early night for them all so after dinner everyone pretty much crashed to their tents (some had already slept a while before dinner!) . We were going to be begin our descent the next day around 10 am with destination Horombo camp. Rumour says they have “normal” toilets and running (cold) water = shower! No wonder the power women of Team Ubuntu were VERY eager to get there as we were running out of wet wipes and Kibo camp is a dry camp so there is no rivers around but all water is carried there (hence conserve it the best you can = no washing).
Read my book again for a while as I was not that tired having taken two naps during the day already. Eventually I fell asleep. Luckily it was not as cold as it was the night before, but still had to have a hat on when sleeping!