Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Decent

[this blog will be updated with pictures]

Our time at the top was over. There was only one way to go... Down. This was supposed to be the easy bit. We are supposed to feel better as we decend. The oxygen increases. It's all good. Sounds too good to be true... It was.

As we decended, suddenly the nausea kicked in. Not just me, the whole group. Apparently this is normal. I also think it had something to do with the bare empty stomachs we were running on.
We did as others did to us and wished the ascenders well.

We made our way back to Stella Point, then to Gilmans Point. Then down the scramble section to the scree. We were stopping every few minutes to gather ourselves so as not to hurl everywhere. By this time, Nissar and his porter had shot down the mountain way ahead of us three.
We didn't need to zigzag our way down. The whole lot was scree so we just took great strides that sank into the ground and we descended fast, still stopping occasionally due to the nausea.
Somewhere down the slope, Partick had sent some porters up. They took our backpacks and completely shadowed our descent in case we needed water etc. At one point I looked back and the others had stopped for a rest. I was feeling ok and had a rhythm going and so continued down, my porter Patrick2 was continuously on my tail. As I approachedthe path off the scree to Kibo, something dawned on me: if the others are still at the hut, I didnt want to greet them on my own. The whole journey from the start was a monumental team effort and I wanted to be with the summit team (bar Nissar who had shot ahead). So I found a rock on the side and rested a few minutes until the rest caught up. I didn't have to wait long as the rest were only a little behind me. They got to me and we rested a while. Sab hurled once more and threw up for the first and last time on the descent.

Though by some optical illusion, Kibo seemed to be an uphill trek, I knew it was in fact downhill. We made our way into the same camp that we had left some 13 hours earlier but as different people. We left here fresh, strong but uncertain and apprehensive, we returned battered and tattered by the mountain but jubilant and triumphant.
We were met by our cook who After congratulating us and providing some mango juice as a celebratory drink, asked whether we'd like food then rest or rest then food. Though our stomachs were craving some nourishment, we quickly realised that it was imminent that we get rest. I struggled to remove my boots, and equipment and only just made it to my bag on the top bunk. I didn't get as far as zipping my bag up... I was out.

We were awoken about an hour or so later by a familiar voice. It was Patrick! It was so good to see him. He congratulated all of us and immediately brought us some food. Chunky potato soup full of carbs carbs and more carbs. Just what we needed. But of course we were still at Kibo and appetites are challenged here. Most of the group managed a few mouthfuls. My goats stomach didn't see potatoes in the bowl, it saw calories, carbs and energy. I managed most of the plate.
We were being evicted from our abode as others were waiting to pile in. Kibo is not a holiday home, it's a short stay carpark. After a very short rest, you have to descend down to Horombo again. So, thats one days ascending, to the summit and two days worth of descending, all in one day! On the way down, we were protesting to Mahmoud that it was not physically possible for us to descend to Horombo today we were just too exhausted but the rest seemed to give us some new energy. It was all downhill from here so we packed our stuff and faced ourselves down the mountain. An estimated 3 hours walk, we motored back and made it in 2.5 hours. Ascending the same route took us seven hours only a day ago.

The rest of the group would meet us at Horombo bar Ishtiaq and Fakarul. Ishtiaq was sent even lower down and he was stretchered off the mountain and back to the hotel (mostly by choice not necessity). Fakarul decided there was no point being on the mountain and also decended back to the hotel.

Back at Horombo, after visiting the reception desk, we clambered back to our dorm where we met Adnaan, Ray and Nissar who gave us a heartwarming congratulatory hug.

We got out of our equipment, it was meal time. This would be our last and celebratory meal on Kilimanjaro together...

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