Join Gary, Chief Project Manager at Nature Discovery, as he attempts to summit Kilimanjaro with a small group of guests.Gary and his guests practice the step-rest method as they trek to Lava Tower at 4600m.
At the evening briefing, after discussing how well we were all handling the altitude at 3859m, we decided to do a short detour on the way to Moir camp, to Lava Tower. The Southern circuit trek from Shira, Lemosho and Machame all pass through Lava on the way to Baranco, but as we were going north this is a little out of the way and only recommended for fitter climbers who want to test their bodies at altitude.
VIEW OF MT MERU
It’s a gentle constant uphill from Shira 2 going into the alpine vegetation, which is a lot sparser and drier. Although the sky was clear and the sun was out, there was cool gentle breeze, but still the danger of sunburn. We applied sunblock and put on our caps, not forgetting the back of our necks and hands. We practised the ‘rest step’ method of hiking which we would be doing on summit day. When the altitude is high, the air is thin and breathing becomes difficult, so a slower pace is needed, and we use a staccato rhythm while walking. Step, rest, step, rest, step, rest – walking in time with your breathing, which helps you hike at a slow but steady pace. Walk too fast and you will be out of breath and need to rest more often.
GETTING CLOSER TO KILI
We arrive at Lava Tower at 4600m and feel a great sense of accomplishment. Some of us have mild altitude headaches, which can be prevented by drinking a lot more water than we are used to. The guides are constantly monitoring our water intake, asking how much we have drunk. It becomes normal to check on each other and ‘sippy- sippy’ becomes our new anthem. Diamox is recommended for dealing with altitude as it assists your body in adjusting to the new heights, and many GP’s will prescribe half a tablet in the morning and half in the evening.
ARRIVING AT LAVA TOWER
LAVA FOR LUNCH
The dining tent is set up alongside about 40 other groups who have also stopped for lunch. They have also set up our toilet tent as there are no ablutions at Lava. Today’s special is KFC, Kili Fried Chicken, and it’s delicious. Tender chicken breasts with a light coating of crispy breadcrumbs served with a pink mayonnaise-based sauce, slices of fresh avocado, coconut, mango and carrot. It is delicious and we cannot get enough. A cup of coffee and a refill of our water bottles as we relax before proceeding. It’s more beneficial to spend an hour to 2 at this altitude letting your body get used to it before dropping down. Some of the headaches have lessened, which is also a good sign.
KFC WITH AVO
We set off this time downhill for another 2 ½ hours in a really chilly wind, down to 4100m and Moir camp. We are 1 of only 4 groups at this camp, which is on a flat piece of ground and rather exposed to the elements but thank goodness the weather Gods had been on our side so far.
After such an amazing lunch we had to ask Pascal our chef how he made the Kili Fried Chicken, but as expected he wasn’t giving away his secret, except to say the crumbs must be finely crushed for coating the chicken. Pascal is really passionate about his job and the stability it gives him, and he wants to keep learning how to be a better chef.
Today had been a long day hiking up to 4600m and back down and we were all a little tired. An early dinner of home-made pesto on penne pasta, accompanied by a salad with avocado is followed by fruit salad with a passionfruit dressing. An early night after updating our journals was what we all needed and we slept like polar bears.
Stay tuned for the next blog in this series to find out what happens next!
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