"How was the trip?"
It's a question I have answered probably a hundred times since I returned from Kilimanjaro. My short answer: "Not a bad moment. Seriously, not a bad moment during the entire trip." The longer answer, which is harder to communicate, goes something like this: Its somewhere between 2 and 8 am (I have lost track), and a single-file line of headlamps is snaking up the mountain in what seems to be an endless conga line of mutant lemmings. My Camelbak is frozen. My walking sticks are falling apart. I have passed my camera to someone, I am not sure who, and I don't really care. One of my fellow hikers just threw up, and two others have been struggling for days to just stay upright.
Pete (our guide) keeps saying the sun is coming up soon, but honestly, I don't believe him. And now we are supposed to climb up a 45¡ slope of scree (basically sand). Faster hikers are running down past me"_they are encouraging us to carry on, "It's all worthwhile, the summit is amazing!". But I am not sure if I believe them either. All I know is that I am tired. I am hungry. I am thirsty. And I would love a nap. It's not a question of if I will get to the summit, but when. And here comes Pete...literally running up the mountain.
I am both slightly annoyed by this but somewhat heartened that he is breathing a little hard. I am also so happy to see him because he has my back up water bottle that isn't frozen. And all he says to me is, "Why are you just sitting there?"
So sure, maybe there were a few moments that were, shall we say, challenging. But I didn't travel across the world to climb the tallest peak in Africa because it was going to be easy.
I knew it would be difficult. I knew that I could train as much as possible but that until I was actually at altitude, I wouldn't know what affect it would have on me. So I gave myself a solid 6 months to prepare. During which I ran, I hiked, I went to the gym and worked with a trainer. I did every hike that Discover Outdoors suggested. I fattened up my passport with extra pages. I saw my doctor and updated all my travel vaccines. I shopped at EMS weekly. And I emailed Kirk and Max at Discover Outdoors with every question I had, no matter how silly it was. And before I knew it, I was sitting just a few feet away from Stella Point, 5 days into a 6-day hike" and shortly after that I made it to the summit with my silly friend Pete, as well as every one of my fellow hikers. Even the ones I was sure on day one and day two were never going to make it. We all made it.
Submitted by Lisa McGarry who summited Mount Kilimanjaro on August 22 2011.