Most anxious moments of my Kilimanjaro climb. I was served dinner at 5 pm as I had to get up at 10.30 pm to get ready for my final ascent at midnight.
Why to climb at midnight? Two reasons. First, to reach at the top of Mt Kilimanjaro to witness the magical sunrise after a climb of around 6 hrs. Second, freezing temperature of night settles the loose scree that facilitates climbers to ascend on steep trail.
I layered my body in multiple warm layers from head to toe, to combat the extreme cold temperature of night, outside. I started my climb at 11 pm from Kibo Hut base camp. With my headlamp on, I followed my guide, step to step, in stark darkness. Just a round ball of light was all that I was clutching to figure out my trail. A slight miss and I would have gone rolling down the mountain, losing my limb or even my life. With my meditative focus on each step I was taking, I inched forward to my destination.
Climb got tougher at 18000 ft onward elevation with minuscule oxygen to breathe in. Even frequent deep breathing was not of much help for my pounding heart. I kept moving very slowly with little pauses in between. I had no idea how much distance I had covered. This I realized when I felt the darkness of night fading a bit. I knew this was dawn. I was so thrilled then. And my guide told me that I was just an hour away from Giliman Point, the top of Mt Kilimanjaro.
But my excitement disappeared suddenly as I felt acute cramps in my stomach. I stopped, sat on a boulder. I was carrying general medicines. I took relevant medicine with hot water I was carrying in flask. Felt little good and paced forward but my stomach reacted weirdly now. I had no idea what happened. I could not move. I was sad thinking I was so close and I was not able to climb further. It appeared I had to be taken back to base camp for medical attention. I am a spiritual person and I believe in invisible force that controls this universe. I always talk to that almighty force when I am sad and have no answers. I conveyed my anguish saying, “I never failed in any endeavors in my life. You always created miracles for me. But this time if you want me to fail I will accept your will with all humility and go back” I told Julius, my guide, to wait for sometime and if my stomach problem did not subside than I will go back. In next few minutes it was a miracle I was experiencing. I felt better and fit enough to move. I was ecstatic, almost shouted in joy.
After further climb of around an hour, the much awaited moment of stepping at Mt Kilimanjaro, arrived in my life. I beamed as I read the glorious words ‘Mount Kilimanjaro’ on a signboard. I had accomplished my feat. I was supremely happy while paying my gratitude to the supreme force that gave me enough strength to accomplish my goal.
My Kilimanjaro Climb tale continues….