Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Kili Day 2: Hitting the Dusty Trail

We were the first to depart Machame Camp on what would prove to be both the shortest, and in my opinion the crappiest day on the mountain. Kili is like all of Northern Tanzania in the dry season in that dust covers absolutely everything. The hike to Shira Caves took only 4 hours but damn did we eat the dust. The dark dust filled up my nose and made it look like big black ants had died in there.

On the way to the second camp we hiked past large chunks of obsidian. Here Walker is demonstrating how to use a piece of wood to flake off sharp slivers.

We arrived at the camp before lunch. I was looking forward to lounging around and playing cards. What I realized though is that the sun, at 12,500 feet, is unrelenting. It turned our tents into sweat lodges. Sitting outside wasn't much of an option though because the dust threatened to bury us alive. Mercifully, we took a short hike away from the exposed camp and out of the wind.

This is the cooking tent and also the tent where five porters slept. Yes, they backpacked up that monstrous canister of gas. We on the other hand had two equally large tents to split between the three of us. 

Every afternoon we had thermos-fuls of freshly made ginger tea. It was awesome and a great way to stay warm and hydrated. The cooking tent in the first picture above came stocked with glass mugs (which made me cringe) and multiple kinds of hot sauce.

At this camp we met a couple from Los Angeles. They had been traveling for a very long time and the woman had a stomach bacterial issue. In a fit of madness generosity, Walker gave all of his antibiotics to this woman, who without them would have been very unlikely to summit. Thanks to Walker's drugs, she made it to the top 2.5 days later.

Spending a lot of time at this camp, I began to feel the altitude. Previously, my highest night was spent at 11,200' at the Hidden Treasure Yurts above Leadville. At 12,500', I just felt lazy. Although I would feel much worse on the summit push, this camp was the low point for me on Kili. Knowing what i know now, i would have blown by Shira Camp altogether and headed either straight to Lava Tower (and then up via the Western Breach) or at a minimum, would have skipped this camp and headed to Barranco Camp, tomorrow's destination.

Day 2: Machame Camp (9,350') to Shira Camp (12,500'). 3 miles + another mile to visit Shira Cave


Walker Bradley said...

Madness was right. I should've had two sets... now I know.

GnightMoon said...

Previously, your highest nights were spent at 12,300' at Cottonwood Lake below the Crestones.