Summit Day dawned early. We had a 2am wakeup call. Lucky for me, I had been able to sleep from 8 to 12:15, and just rested from then until 2. The altitude was still affecting Will, and he hadn’t slept at all except for a small catnap the previous afternoon. Today would prove to be a verrrry long day for him.

After a breakfast of porridge and choco-coffee (everyone needs a little chocolate to help power them up Kilimanjaro!!), we set off at exactly 3am. The weather was gorgeous. A clear and starry night, and with the moon just two days past full, we didn’t even need our headlamps on. And though it was cold, it wasn’t Ice Age cold, and there was very little wind. It was actually quite magical….

Our 3:00am departure for the summit of Kibo.

Our 3:00am departure for the summit of Kibo.

As we snaked our way up the side of Kibo, we had glorious views of the sunrise over the horizon behind us, lighting up Mawenzi.
Sunrise looking back toward Mawenzi.  It was as beautiful as the picture depicts.

Sunrise looking back toward Mawenzi. It was as beautiful as the picture depicts.

Another sunrise shot of Mawenzi.

Another sunrise shot of Mawenzi.

It was mostly clear all the way to the top. Adrenaline powered us up and up and up, but we were still going pole, pole. We didn’t take a lot of pictures since it was pretty cold, and getting colder as we climbed. The sun coming out did help, though, and was a huge benefit to the 3am start instead of a midnight start.
Scaling up the 30% incline of Kibo.

Scaling up the 30% incline of Kibo.

Our summit team including our guides.

Our summit team including our guides. Also with us were Edson and Adnar, who carried the emergency medical equipment.

There was hot sweet tea waiting for us at Gilman’s Point at 18,400′. We had hiked up over 3,000 feet; the hardest part was over (well, except for trying to find oxygen molecules at 19,000′ for the next couple of hours…)
Mark and I at Gilman's Point - 18,400 feet elevation.  This is the rim of the crater on Kibo.  About 2 miles of relatively flat trekking to reach Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Kibo's crater rim.

Mark and I at Gilman’s Point – 18,400 feet elevation. This is the rim of the crater on Kibo. About 2 miles of relatively flat trekking to reach Uhuru Peak, the highest point on Kibo’s crater rim.

Unfortunately, Will was not feeling well at all. The altitude, lack of sleep and intestinal distress of the last couple of days had really taken its toll. As we reached Gilman’s Point, he remarked that he had had a very weird experience the past 20 minutes or so.. he had been ‘somewhere else’! Hmmm… where is that oxygen canister again?

One of the unforgettable moments of the trip: Our first spectacular views of the glaciers as we rounded the rim of the crater.

Very unusual looking glaciers...more like 6 story ice cubes.

Very unusual looking glaciers…more like 6 story ice cubes.

A view of Kibo's crater.

A view of Kibo’s crater.

A view of Kibo's crater and Uhuru Peak in the distance.

A view of Kibo’s crater and Uhuru Peak in the distance.

Hiking along Kibo's crater rim toward Uhuru Peak.

Hiking along Kibo’s crater rim toward Uhuru Peak.

The goal, barely visible in the distance

The goal, the sign barely visible in the distance

We reached the summit right at 10am. Our 3am start time really paid off, as we had the summit to ourselves. Many groups leave at 11pm or midnight to be at the top at sunrise, but one downside to that is the crowds at the summit sign. And we felt our sunrise views were amazing the way we did it.
He made it!

He made it!

Finally...after hiking for 7 hours, we reach Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet elevation.

Finally…after hiking for 7 hours, we reach Uhuru Peak at 19,340 feet elevation.

We would not have made it without our guides.

We would not have made it without our guides.

...all smiles!

…all smiles!

... and kisses!!

… and kisses!!

Everyone was a little more relaxed on the way down, knowing we had all made it to the top; Will showed amazing resilience and perseverance to power through his fatigue, with the help of our expert guide, Pendael.
Our Charlie's Angels team.

Our Charlie’s Angels team.

My yoga pose.

My yoga pose at the top.

Godlisten's yoga pose.

Godlisten’s yoga pose.

Will had a tough time on the way down. Mark, Anne-Marie and I met four of our porters from camp as they were headed up the hill to meet up with Pendael, Edson and Will. They had even called for Ernest, the camp manager who happened to be the biggest guy in camp, to help Will down. Will, for his part, didn’t seem to care about getting off the mountain, he just kept telling them to ‘leave me here… I just need to sleep.’ He was amazing; despite being sick the entire way down, he made it back to camp just under an hour after us.
Apparantely, the high altitude does something to your eyes.

Apparantely, the high altitude does something to your eyes.

Back down to 14,000 feet elevation.  Much easier to breathe at this altitude.

Back down to 14,000 feet elevation. Much easier to breathe at this altitude.

We all took naps, and despite Will’s best protests (‘this plan is not working for me’), we set off again at 4pm for SEVEN MORE MILES of hiking. Yes, it was downhill, but it was a lot after the past 2 strenuous days. Horombo Camp never looked so good as it did around 7pm that night when Will came in! We had hiked up 4,000 feet and down 7,200 feet, most of it above 15,000′. A good day.

Our Kili Outfitter: Nature Discovery

  Trip created by our travel pros, Khashana Adventure Travel. To see more view our other posts or visit their web site.