My sleep was so much better and my headache was only a flicker of what it was the day before, in fact I soon forgot about it as I began walking. The gradient wasn’t troubling, and I soon got myself into a rhythm. I spent most of the morning chatting to one of the party, Graham, he is a retired detective constable for Essex Constabulary.
We swapped war stories passing the time until lunch. We stopped just before a feature called the ‘Lava Tower’. A cluster of volcanic boulders with a huge chunk that towers above. The terrain resembled more of a lunar landscape at this point. While everyone tucked into their packed lunches, I decided to do bit of climbing (clearly too much energy!).
As we munched away on our food, we had views of the diminishing iconic ‘Arrow Glacier’ and the ‘Western Breach’. Above this, the upside-down moon could be seen. It was pleasant with another cool breeze keeping the heat at bay; I basked in the Sun eating my sandwich.
We continued on to the shouts of “Twende Twende”, the breeze remained keeping it perfect walking temperature, however my headache had re-appeared. The incline wasn’t troublesome as we reached the ridge of a small valley. The route follows a tiny river, gradually descending into camp. On the way down the clouds came in reducing visibility down to 20m or so.
The Giant Senecio trees loomed and lurked over us in the mist, giving a very eerie atmosphere, akin to a horror film. Thankfully Moses met me to guide me to the tent just as it started to rain. I flopped down onto the sleeping mat and took a couple of ibuprofen for the headache, and it soon cleared up. I think it’s the dry dusty climate that is causing my discomfort rather than the altitude.
I called into the ‘Mess Tent’ for a cup of tea, to be told some bad news. A member of the party, Tim had developed a chest infection and fever. This is not good, as it presented a challenge to get someone down from here; a priority for his health. Prolonging his exposure to this height and the lack of Oxygen would only make it worse.
There is also another concern, the infection could spread to the rest of the group, which can easily happen at this altitude and conditions, my Himalayan Adventure a casing point. It would be the end of the ascent for those who contract it, I just hope if I were to get it, it would be on my descent.
The temperature really dropped as the evening wore on, I was loathed to get into my thermals. I had laid them all out to change into as quickly as possible, to limit my exposure to the frigid temperatures. For dinner it was carrot soup and spaghetti bolognaise, just what I need for energy and warmth!
There was a small Scottish contingent to the group, and one of the members, Sandy, after dinner said a few words thanking the guides and porters, then asked if we would all share a prayer to help us summit Kili and for Tim to have a speedy recovery. It was a nice touch and seemed to gel the group a little more.
Our head guide William also said, after speaking to the leaders of other groups, he reckons ours would be one of the first to summit. He probably just told us this, to boost our confidence, but I’ll take it! We then retired to our tents to get our much needed sleep. Tomorrow, we tackle the infamous ‘Barranco Wall’!