Day 6 Summit Day!
The wake-up call came at midnight. Five days with no shower trekking several miles each day, and we save the best for last. Summit this gigantic mountain visa vie the western breach route. We knew it was going to be a huge challenge, but what took place today required digging deep past all physical and mental limits. We set out with our multi-layer expedition gear and head lamps. The itinerary was us to start at Arrow glacier camp around 15,500 feet and climb in the dark straight up for 7 hours crossing over treturous ridges, snow lines and bouldering – all with fatal consequences if there were a misstep. We hit the crater rim around 7 am just as the sun was rising. I thought we would never get to that rim. I have never been more physically tired as I was this morning approaching the rim. It looked close, but as we continued to climb it was like a mirage that you were never able to catch. We finally get to the rim and I am exhausted and feeling pretty uncomfortable effects of altitude. I had a headache, felt like my mind was working in slow motion and I couldn’t keep anything down. I attempted to wrestle down my homeade trail mix, but I threw it up immediately. Our guide dosed me with some altitude medicine as well as ibuprofen to counteract the effects.
We hit the crater rim and are reminded we were not done yet. We still have a 45 minute climb up to the summit. That was the hardest 45 minutes of my life. But as soon as you get up and see that famous summit sign, all sickness left me while we were up there. Only euphoria, elation and tears of joy between the group.
So in the day we ascended about 4,000 feet and then descended down after summit 6,000 feet where we are camping one more night. Today was a 14 hour climbing day. Fortunately, we have a short 3 hour trek through the jungle to the park gates where we will have a big party celebration with our entire expedition. And then the next day, we start our 6 day safari!
What a trip we will never ever forget. We bonded so much with our group because we intimately shared the excitement an fears of this experience. And if you ever want to go on an outdoor adventure, we highly recommend Jeff Evans with Mountain Visions Expeditions. He was the main ingredient that made this trip unforgettable.
Needless to say, we are ready for showers and a nice warm bed!!