We all got to Barafu camp no problems. We hiked from Baranco through the high altitude desert to the last camp for about 7 hours. Once we got there, we rested, got some dinner and got ready for the summit push. We were awaken at 11PM for tea, some snacks and left Barafu at midnight for the summit. We had INCREDIBLE weather for a while, as there was absolutely no wind what so ever. We kept pushing through the night and kept going "pole pole" (pronounced POLE-eh) or "slowly slowly" as the locals say. The last camp was at about 15,200 feet and the summit is at 19,340. We hiked and climbed through the night fending off the sub-zero temperatures and just praying for the sun to come up early. Apparently Mother Nature didn't get that memo and the sun came up at the same time it normally does. Bummer. Anyhow, the sunrise... most beautiful sunrise anyone has ever seen. It started to crest the horizon, cracked out above the clouds and we started getting warmed by the rays. Truly God's country. From the time the sun came up, we had about 1 hour or so to go before we hit Stela Point. It was there that we all celebrated, hugged, got some warm tea, and could see the crater of the volcano. We could also see the summit and knew we had about 1 hour left. From here on out it was just a high altitude slog to the top. Once on the summit, I pulled out the Pringles, the celebratory Guinness, and I think 4 people ended up puking just from the thought. We snapped tons of photos, got the UICC flag out as well as the CancerClimber flag and headed back home (Barafu) to take a nap and rest up for the 3 - 4 hour hike to Mweka camp.
After climbing all through the night (8 hours and 32 minutes to be exact), then the 2-hour hike back to camp... well, let's just say the extra 3 hours to Mweka camp wasn't exactly ideal. All in all, it was about a 15 hour day and VERY exhausting. Ouch. From Mweka, we all had about 3 hours this morning to head to the gate and then back to the hotel where we are now... all waiting lunch, however something happened in the kitchen and we're not sure what to do since we just want to nap and sleep until next week.
I have a guest blog coming, but when we got to the last camp, everyone was so exhausted, no one wanted to do anything but sleep and rest. We only had about 4 hours to rest before we got up at 11 for the summit push and I thought it would be in everyone's best interest to just relax and not worry about that, so my apologies, however it was necessary.
Out of the group, 10 made it to the top. One didn't leave Barafu camp, another had to turn around due to some sever altitude sickness. HOWEVER... with all that said, every single person is happy, enjoying life, and ... well... glad to be back at the hotel. Everyone did an amazing job and I’m proud to call each and every person on the trip a true friend. Fantastic to say the least.
Tomorrow we are all heading out on a true "vacation" as it's the safari through the Serengeti, Lake Manyara, and the Ngorongoro crater. I’ll call in more updates and keep everyone abreast as to what's going on, but in the mean time... thank you all so so much for your support, your help, your prayers, and everything. It truly has been a magical trip and I want to do another one in about 9 months. Anyone interested in trekking to the summit of Africa and meeting the most incredible people in the world?? The folks on the trip who were guiding us up and who were helping with everything were more than fantastic.