After only a few hours sleep, we wake up. I look at my watch. 23:30. I got dressed quickly or as quickly as putting on multiple layers can be. It’s cold outside; we’d passed above the clouds a couple days ago. Even here the air is noticeably thinner. It’s a quick bite to eat and then we set off on our accent. Head torches on and wrapped up warm we begin to walk in the pitch black, only the dim head torches and sparkling stars to guide our way.
It’s slow going with people passing out and spewing every hundred meters because of the increasing altitude. It’s silent up there only the occasional cry for help and gagging of people been sick. Every time we stopped the mind numbing -21 Degrees Celsius made it almost impossible to stay warm and get going again. Even through down coats and multiple jumpers and sock and gloves that is the coldest I’ve ever been, stood in the darkness waiting to move again as my fingers and toes slowly froze. The cold frost crept slowly up my arms and legs, gradually making its way to seize my beating heart with its icy grip. Even as the cold spread like a virus through my veins, the punishing wind cold and icy plunged straight through me ignoring all forms of protection threatening to freeze my very soul.
Still we walked made ever harder by the steep terrain made up of very soft loose dusty scree that fell away beneath your footing resulting in you having to zigzag up the mountain only adding more time in this frosty hell above the clouds. Every step we took the very air got thinner, it was manageable for now, but as we got higher and as the air got thinner more and more people were been brought down the mountain, more people fainting, more people spewing, more stopping in the icy wind. Stop and start. Stop and start. Gradually we got higher and higher ever stopping and re-starting; only the cold grip on my body was constant.
It was nearly 5am when we ascended past the awful section of scree back to nice solid rock it’s there we took a break to look at the majesty that was unfolding in front of our very eyes the whole of Africa been lit up by the rising sun over the Serengeti. That feeling is indescribable, such joyful euphoria, such ecstasy at been above the world watching one of the greatest sunrises on earth. We watched for a good while before setting of ascending again 400 meters upwards left till we reached the highest point, Uhuru Peak. It wasn’t long before the pounding began in skull, a thundering boom boom boom, in my head, each breath struggling to suck in oxygen. My god I was tired, my muscles burned with lactic acid, an still I walked on, the end so close. People in my group had began to waver behind me, even as we passed icy glaciers sparkling in the morning sun my eyes had only one goal, one fixed point… the summit.
Sucking in oxygen and panting like dog on a hot day, I finally made it to the sign that signaled the top, I’d made it to Uhuru peak. The roof of Africa. The tallest freestanding mountain in the world. Again that feeling of ecstasy descended upon me. Ecstasy is the right word. People talk about getting the traveling bug, or been an adrenaline junky, and their right because that feeling of standing above the clouds, higher than most people on earth, doing something that few other people on earth can or have done that feeling is addictive and it’s a feeling I’m going to chase my whole life. As it stands 5895 meters above the sea is the highest I’ve been but I recon I can get higher, maybe not this year or even five years but eventually I’ll get to the roof of the world... Everest I’m coming for you and I will not be denied.
Written by Jonny Fairclough.
Published by C&J Active