Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Climbing to Fischer Camp - 12,300 ft

Trip Day 5 - Climb Day 3


Today I think we must have gotten a late start as we were still in camp when the porters broke it down. It was very interesting to watch how quickly they took everything down and loaded up their bags. We were barely a few minutes out of camp when the line of porters blew past us. Today was a short day, both miles and altitude wise, assumingly designed primarily as an acclimatization day. We walked across the mostly flat Shira Plateau which looks a lot like places in the American southwest. About 20 pee breaks later and after a moderate climb we arrived at Fischer Camp. Fischer Camp is at the far end of the Shira Plateau and is named for Scott Fischer, the founder of Mountain Madness. We got into camp well before noon but nevertheless were served lunch when we got there. The interesting feature at this camp were the Senecio Kilimanjarin. These are giant stalk like plants with a little flowery bush on top. The bush part opens in the morning and then closes in the evening so as to maximize the sun during the day and protect itself from the cold at night. Apparently this particular species only grows in this one area on Kilimanjaro. Most of the group by this point was crashing in the tents in the afternoons for naps and what not. Ed and I were really the only ones out and about every afternoon. We picked a spot next to our tent that was mostly out of the wind and watched the world go by for several hours.

Later in the afternoon we had our optional day hike. Today's hike was a mere 5 minutes to the locations of the two Scott Fischer plaques. One was newer and nicer than the other, but the older one had the better quote, "If you're not cruisin' you're bummin'". 5 minutes wasn't nearly enough for Ed and I. While the others looked at us like we were crazy, Ed and I along with a porter Raymond set off for the next ridge on the horizon. We learned that the trail we were on ultimately led to an alternate campsite that was only used by one group. After awhile we passed by what Raymond said was a cave. Upon closer inspection his cave was in reality an old lava tube. I turned around and from our vantage point you could see where the lava came out of this tube and rolled on down through the valley into the Shira Plateau below. We continued on the trail until we reached the ridgeline that had been my stated goal. From here we could see ahead to the other camp and were afforded a much better view of the Shira Plateau than from camp. Back at camp we set up shop watching the world go by again. At sunset we were afforded the same clearing of the clouds and another view of the mountain. It looked much closer today but still pretty darn high. We also got a fantastic sunset through the clouds that made for some good pictures. Tonight after dinner, where I ate like a pig again, the card game was delayed by a guide/porter sing-a-long. They sang a bunch of local songs for us which was fun for awhile. After an hour or so it started to severely cut into our card playing time, but everyone seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it so the singing went on. We played one game of Hearts and called it a night. I was still feeling strong and still hadn't gotten a headache.

Things were starting to cool off a bit at night as I had to put another layer of clothes on to stay warm during the card game. Back in the tent, Ed figured out that he had been sleeping with his sleeping bag inside out since the trip started. I found this to be absolutely hysterical. Tonight would be the highest elevation that I had ever slept at so I was curious to see how it would work out. Thinking that it would be cold, I decided to go to sleep with my hat on and a thermal top but still wear shorts. I slept really good for about 4 hours and then woke up just blistering hot! I was sweating like a pig all over my body and had to get completely out of my bag and rip off all my clothes in order to cool off enough to go back to sleep. Guess I overestimated the cold just a bit. That pretty much shot me for the night as I tossed and turned fitfully until morning. Tonight was also my first use of the pee bottle. Not normally something I would do, but with having to pee all the time and the cold weather the pee bottle was an indispensable item in my arsenal for better sleeping.

The porters breaking down camp in the morning Everybody line up
Looking back at Shira Camp 1 Here come the porters. Make way
On the Shira Plateau Senecio Kilimanjarin. The only place on earth they grow is right here
More Senecio Mark looking back down towards Fischer Camp
Ed relaxes in a breeze free location Mark at Fischer Camp - 12,300 ft
Kilimanjaro at sunset from Fischer Camp Sunset over the Shira Plateau

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