Lead guide, Sid Pattison, provides this expedition recap of summit day:
Well another great Kilimanjaro trip is in the books, our entire team summited at 6:45am on August 4th. It was a cold morning but we all kept moving and stayed warm. The sun crested the horizon as we made our final steps to Uhuru Peak, the third and highest of Kilimanjaro’s three summits.
Getting here had been a great trip through the many wonders that Kili has to offer. As we started in the rain forest on the lower flanks of the mountain we ate lunch with monkeys playing above our heads, curious as to what brings us here. The next day, as we climbed up and out of the thick jungle into the stunted trees of the Erica zone, this zone allowed us gorgeous views across the mid flanks of the mountain and up to the summit! This would be our first view of the mountain, from the mountain. There was a palatable shift as we gazed up at how much we had to climb. Undaunted and undeterred the team pushed on, through the hidden moorlands, up to the Lava tower to acclimatize and past Barafu camp to the higher Kosovo Camp. From here we prepared for our midnight rise and early morning summit.
We rose at 11pm on August 3rd and quietly readied ourselves for a big day. Bags packed, boots tied, headlamps ready we were off. Up we went, switch-backing our way up the mountain, rock and scree gave way to snow and ice as we approached Stella Point, where our crew looked across the crater, standing above and across from Africas only glaciers. From Stella Point the crew had to dig deep to finish the final 1.5 hour climb across the crater rim. Together we climbed slowly but surely, “Pole Pole” (pronounced ‘Polay Polay’ it means slowly, slowly in Swahili) as our African guides would say to the summit. Upon arrival hugs were shared, handshakes of appreciation and ultimate feelings of satisfaction. The funny thing about any summit is that always accompanying these feelings is the tempering understanding that we are only half way, we still must get down, and it generally isn’t easy.
As we made our way down from the summit, back to Stella point we watched people digging hard like we had just been doing, their slow steps, the looks in their eyes telling the story of giving everything the have hoping the summit comes soon. After Stella Point, in the sun we shed layers, drank water were finally able to relax a bit before the final descent to camp. As we walked back into camp our staff sang and congratulated us on our climb. We relaxed and drank cold juice. It was then time for the big 18km, 10,000ft descent. Pulling into the Mweka gate at 6:00, we were greeted by many of our staff.
Today my legs are sore but I’m always happy to have another successful climb under my belt. Thanks again to our local staff of guides, porters and cook staff. They really do a great job and make the experience on the mountain amazing!