Since this is my blog, I really should be able to describe climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in any way I like; as in I reached the top first, was able to withstand the freezing cold, and completely triumphed without any signs of altitude sickness because I’m just that awesome. Sadly, I feel compelled to tell you the truth which unfortunately ends up being the complete opposite of my ambitious dreams for a kili climb.
In reality, the experience was close to miserable. On summit night, it was freezing (and many of you know I HATE the cold!). I mean, really, who in their right mind would want to walk up a mountain in -20 degree weather? Definitely not me. Besides the cold, the altitude was quite difficult. We would literally take one or two steps then have to stop to gasp for air…there was hardly any oxygen at 5895 meters! At least there was a was beautiful sunrise above the clouds and some breathtaking glaciers. Too bad I hardly remember the scenery since I was too worried about the possible impending amputation of all my toes due to frostbite…..:
As some of you know, the main reason we decided to spend a week of our “vacation” on this torturous mountain was to celebrate the 50th birthday of my mother. She is now half a century old! But age, clearly, did not matter on Kili. She was a beast of a 50 year old and powered up the mountain beating both of her children to Uhuru peak. All of the porters were sincerely impressed with her strength and endurance and kept telling her she was the strongest 50 year old they had ever seen! When I was sick due to the altitude she literally carried me down the mountain leaving the porters in awe of her brute strength. While my brother and I swore that we would never attempt to climb a mountain again, my mother was hardly phased by Kilimanjaro, the tallest point in all of Africa. She is an amazing woman and I can only hope that at 50, I can do half the things she can do (not including climbing mountains). Happy Birthday Mom, I love you!
While the memory of Kilimanjaro is still too fresh in my mind to not be scarred by the cold and altitude sickness, I know that in a few months (ok maybe years) I will look back at the experience as one of the most rewarding accomplishments. Summit night was quite possibly the worst night of my life, but besides that night, the spectacular scenery of the mountain and the atmosphere were very memorable. We walked through so many different ecosystems from lush jungle to dry desert. We had the opportunity to meet and talk with some amazing porters who climb Kili for a living. And my brother and I bonded over our shared misery. While I might complain about the aches and pains, bruises, and general dirtiness of the being on the mountain for a week, I know that I will always treasure the experience and, of course, the bragging rights :)