Thursday, 25 August 2011

Kilimanjaro Dairies: The conclusion

Sorry about the late follow up. I have been almost everywhere over the last month. Business and family responsibilities have kept me busy. So I am gonna try and be quick and dash.

"Gemma, Gemma, Gemma" I heard my guide call me. They had strapped an oxygen canister to my chest and feed me oxygen. I was gasping for air. I was trying to breathe but I felt nothing. I was in pain, that was all I knew.... I couldn't remember anything. 2 liters of oxygen later and the canister empty. I heard my guide screaming in Swahili to someone on the phone. My guide turned to me and said "Gemma, we have to take you down". Of course I wouldn't let him. 4 men carried me and started sprinting across valleys, rocks and hills to a lower altitude so that my body would stabilize...while I was screaming and crying hysterically. All I could think of was all the investment I had made. Financially, that is! We finally got to Millennium camp n the dead of the night. A much lower altitude and the chief Ranger took one look at me. He peered into my eyes and said "you have PO, Altitude sickness you have to go down.". I just needed to sleep.... I had been hiking, crying and crawling for 10 hours and not being able to breathe. I just needed to sleep. "the mountain will always be here" he continued "you can't risk your life on here, do you want to die?". In less than 3 minutes the team of men came and yanked me off the floor and were heading further down to Mweka camp....they took turns to piggy back me. It was the most excruciating thing I have ever had to experience. I was a bit worried about being piggy backed by men who hadn't showered for days. Euugghhh anyway, the only thing I remember at that time was that I was in a lot of physical pain and there were countless numbers of stars in the sky. It was beautiful. We finally got to Mweka camp after 3 hours. I called my mum and cried and she consoled me....I slept almost immediately.

I woke up a lot better and waited as dawn came then decided to descend. They were not going to let me go anywhere but down. I was gutted. They asked if I would prefer a stretcher or be piggy backed? I opted to walk. It was the slowest and most painful walk ever. When I got down to the gate. I had to exit and sign my name and it was only then I realized that only 40% actually made the summit. Thats odd. Where did I get it that it was a 96% success rate?

Anyway, I gave it a good shot at 15,500 feet. I never thought I'd made it past the second day. Will I try it again? Maybe not, Maybe I will...... But I can tick that off my bucket list. Now all I can think of is Incredible India!


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Kilimanjaro Dairies Vol 2

Sorry this is a week late. Still dazed and my body is still sore..

Today I slept well for about 6 hours. We started hiking at about 8:25am, it was very steep. We started at 3800 meters and went up to Lava tower at 4600 meters. It was acclimatization day so we went up and descended to a lower altitude. The descent was quite tough. I felt tingly all over then a blood rush to my head. Well I kept taking my meds religiously. It was extremely windy and cold and it was then I began to think what a stupid mistake I had made. Maybe I should have just gotten that Chanel bag instead of throwing my cash on this difficult mountain hike. I persevered. I was cold. My boots held up. I didn't feel tired physically but something wasn't right. I was just mentally and emotionally drained. I was breathing too heavy then we got to Barranco camp for an overnight stay! Walked for a total of 7 hours today

I woke up with a knotted chest. I had a nasty cold that I knew had to go away. I took my medicine and breakfast and we set off. We climbed the barranco wall for about 2 hours. It was rocks upon rocks...the views were spectacular. We were walking through clouds, hills, small mountains, valleys and all over again. I was getting sicker and sicker. When we got to Karanga valley my breathing was failing....I had to idea what it was. I had been walking for 5 hours and slowing my party down. All that kept me going was the thoughts of my family, my mum and her angelic face. I thought about my godchildren and my friends who were rooting for me. I thought about blogsville and i thought aout the summit.,.. Then I kept moving albeit too slow. Then we stopped for lunch and told my guide how I was feeling. I couldn't eat. I was wheezing loudly. We proceeded after lunch to the Barafu camp which was the foot of Kibo. It was summit night so it wasn't too long now. I had to tell the other hiker to go ahead as I couldn't keep up. It was as if I was swimming with my head under water and I was breathing but no air way coming into my lungs. The air was too thin and it was merciless. My guide was in denial about my health as I had promised him an extra $150 if I made the summit. Well another guide walked past and saw my state and gave me an oxygen test. I had only 72. in my lungs, I needed 90 to ascend Kibo. They were trying to give me water then I collapsed......

To be continued