Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Climbing to Lava Tower Camp - 14,500 ft

Trip Day 6 - Climb Day 4


Today was a glorious morning with bright sunshine and warmer air. No wonder I was burning up last night. For me, the terrain started to get more mountain like today. The plants gradually became smaller and smaller and the rocks bigger and bigger. All morning long we could see the route we were traveling and Lava Tower off in the distance. I worked hard today at keeping a reasonable distance between the people in front of me and the people behind me. I fell completely to the back to cover that aspect and then took well timed pee breaks to get some separation in front. I had two motives for this, one was to get away from all of the trail dust being kicked up and the other was just to get away from hiking in a group. I normally like to backpack somewhat alone and by now the group hiking was starting to get to me a little bit. Pole pole was a little more welcome today as the altitude started to be a little noticeable while we were walking along but nothing substantial. Eventually we left the plant life completely behind and started into the Alpine Desert area. We hit areas with big boulders on the trail and things really started to get fun. Around lunch time we crested a hill and saw camp down below. Today was a good hike but I still had a lot of pent up energy and was looking forward to the optional day hike to the top of  Lava Tower. We had some new words today, Hakuna Matata and Hakuna Shida. I was surprised to find out that Hakuna Matata was a real word and that it really meant "no worries". Hakuna Shida means "no problem" and is my preference between the two.

Once in camp we ate lunch and set about the standard afternoon camp activities. Napping and watching the world go by. I plunked down behind a rock out of the wind and set about doing some relaxing. I had a good spot and attracted several other world watchers until it was time for the optional hike to Lava Tower. The optional hike today attracted everyone in the group as the top of Lava Tower is a good spot. Lava Tower is about 20 minutes further up the trail from where camp was and is advertised to be a rock scramble to the top. I would say this is fairly accurate although at almost 15,000 feet a couple of the Class 4 moves you had to make became a little more of a challenge. I didn't have any trouble at all but several members in the group had considerable difficulty in one place. The guides/porters positioned themselves in the right spots and made sure that everyone safely navigated the problem areas then afterwards they would jump over the same spot like a billy goat. We all made it to the top of Lava Tower where we got an excellent view of the trail behind us and the trail that lied ahead. Lava Tower is at 15,000 ft and I had set my first altitude record of the trip. The way down was easier for everyone and we all made it back to camp without incident.

Once back in camp, Joanna was not feeling very well at all and crashed into the tent for several hours with a splitting headache. I still felt really strong and ate like a pig at dinner once again. Our card game became a little shorter tonight as it was getting to be uncomfortably cold sitting around in the mess tent playing cards. I noticed that slight mistakes started to creep into the game, a symptom of altitude. I also had my first slight headache of the trip and took an ibuprofen. Sleep however did not come easily tonight. Unlike the previous night where I think waking up hot ruined my sleep, tonight I tossed and turned mostly from the altitude. I slept mostly in small little pieces but I didn't really get anything substantial. Ed kept asking me if I was awake and I kept telling him no.

Bonei and Penda load up my duffel bag Mark and Ed shortly after leaving Fischer Camp
Mark on the climb up to Lava Tower Camp Lava Tower and the Western Breach in the distance
I think we hit that Alpine Desert area Almost like the AT in Pennsylvania
Camp appears over the next hill Mark at Lava Tower Camp - 14,500 ft
Now this is the life Just put your foot here, and your hand here. Hakuna Shida
Mark on top of Lava Tower, 15,000 ft Group shot on top of Lava Tower
Climbing cairns on Lava Tower Our route from Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier
Dinner time for the porters  

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