Haitian school children in Ouanaminthe showing their support for the climbers
Day 6 - We did it!
The seven of us made it to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro at 7am this morning (GMT). After a sleepless night with African winds howling around our tents, we got up at 11pm to face the midnight hike up to the peak. As we set out we were amazed to see the twinkling headlamps of over 100 other climbers and guides who were also setting off to reach the summit. Unfortunately due to the terrible weather and temperatures of -20°c, only half of the climbers that set off kept going, the rest turned back.
The climb took us almost 7 hours and, combined with the dizziness brought on by the altitude and the oxygen starvation, it was quite a challenge for our team. The sun rose on the final day of our ascent just as we reached the peak, and we were treated to a break in the bad weather and some phenomenal views. All of us were ecstatic to finally make it and were so exhausted and dizzy due to the lack of sleep and oxygen that our excitement was mixed with relief.
We remained at the peak for only 20 minutes, after which the guides insisted that we head back down because of the risk of altitude sickness. Before we headed back down we got some great photos with the Haitian flag and our trusty (and empty) bottle of Pearse Lyons Reserve. We also witnessed a man proposing to his now fianc?e on the peak, proving that romance exists even at nearly -20°c and 6,000 m.
Haitian school children cheering the climbers!
As we descended in the morning sunlight, we realised just how challenging the terrain was, and if we had seen this before our ascent we might have changed our minds. Tonight we will camp at 3,100 m so that everyone can acclimatise. Then we set off in the morning for the Park Gate and should be back in the hotel by Sunday to have a celebratory beer with a completely recovered John Thornton.