Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Climbing to Arrow Glacier Camp - 15,800 ft

Trip Day 7 - Climb Day 5


Today things became serious. Joanna was still not feeling very good at all and there was talk about her not going any higher. Ultimately Susan stayed behind with her and the rest of the group started out. The climb from Lava Tower to Arrow Glacier was short but reasonably steep. Maybe it was the lack of sleep combined with more altitude, but I noticed that the climbing became more difficult and the pole pole suddenly became a nice pace to move at. Along the way we encountered our first person coming down the mountain with altitude sickness. She was walking very slowly down with her porter, obviously staggering. Then a porter from a completely different group dropped his pack, picked her up on his back, and literally ran down the mountain with her. I was totally impressed that he would do this and also how quickly he could run down the trail carrying her on his back. I found out later when I ran into the same porter, singing and dancing along the trail, that he had carried her all the way down to Lava Tower camp and then climbed back up the trail picking up his bag and continuing on to Arrow Glacier Camp. Very impressive indeed. I looked for him at our last camp because I wanted to personally tip him, but I couldn't find his group in the chaos of Mweka Camp. Arrow Glacier camp looks like a high altitude camp, rocky and desolate with glaciers in the background. I was surprised out how tired I felt from the short hike to get here and took a little nap in the afternoon after lunch.

The optional hike today, which really wasn't optional, was to hike up the Western Breach to 16,300 ft and then turn around and come back. I had eye balled the Western Breach when we got there. My initial impression was that it wasn't that steep, but that it might be real interesting given the altitude. I found out on the optional hike that it was interesting indeed. I was very surprised at how quickly I became short of breath on the climb. This was the first time I had experienced this since we had started so it really took me by surprise. At one point I asked KP (Aaron) how much further we had to go. He said "To those rocks up ahead". I looked up ahead and saw rocks WAY off in the distance and said "You gotta be sh*tting me!" to which he replied "No the close rocks over there". Whew, thank god. It was a little cold and we got a little taste of the climb tomorrow but all in all everyone seemed to be holding up OK. Joanna and Susan decided to press forward and had arrived at camp while we were out on the optional hike.

Once I was back down in camp, it was like somebody had suddenly flipped the off switch on my body. I was tired and not feeling strong at all, I started to get a fair sized headache, and my GI tract decided now was the time to empty itself of ALL material contained within. On my way to the privy I passed a few members of our group talking, they were about 20 feet away from the privy. I spent a good 15 minutes on the privy making all manner of noises and when I got up to go back to my tent they were still 20 feet away talking amongst themselves. I didn't stop to ask if they had heard all the commotion but I found it humorous that they stayed for the whole performance. I was doing much better than Joanna who was completely crashed out all afternoon in her tent loaded up on drugs. My understanding is that some point she was throwing up as well. We didn't see her the whole rest of the day and figured that this was not a good sign. Back to my problems, I found out at dinner time that not only was my appetite completely gone but that I also couldn't even force myself to eat. Interestingly I was not able to produce enough saliva and it turns out this makes it virtually impossible to eat anything other than soup, fruit and tea. I managed to gag down a little soup but essentially nothing else. Scott and I were the worst on food, but others seemed to be less enthusiastic about dinner too and several were complaining of headaches. My own headache was starting to get more noticeable so I started taking 4 ibuprofen at a crack to try and keep it under control, lest it become something more serious. Our card game took on comedic proportions. Everyone was making mistakes, I seemed to be the only one who could keep track of who was shooting the moon, and Ed lost the ability to add up the scores properly. Nobody could reliably remember who had dealt last and who we were suppose to pass to. We kept calling out to Ben "Send us down the mountain!". Eventually somebody won and we called it a night after one game as again it was getting too cold to sit in the mess tent. Sleep was almost non-existent. Between being excited about the climb tomorrow and the altitude I may have caught a couple of hours total, but it was a long night where I spent a bunch of it reading to pass the time. On the plus side I was warm and comfortable all night long.

Climbing up to Arrow Glacier Looking back on Lava Tower on the way to Arrow Glacier
We must be getting close. Lava Tower is shrinking Arrow Glacier Camp - 15,800 ft
Acclimatization hike commences Looking back at Arrow Glacier Camp
Whew. I think that was far enough Still smiling!
Would you like some hot tea? The Western Breach

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