Climbing Kilimanjaro, Day 4 dawns. It’s the day of her birthday and I am not there. My heart feels broken. I am missing her ninth birthday. This was the first thoughts through running through my mind when I opened my eyes. (Problem) To climb Kilimanjaro takes physical strength but you can’t climb this mountain with any emotional weakness because she is a mental climb. Her kilometres weigh on your mental strength and mentally I felt like a failure before the day even started climbing.
We were woken by more rain, freezing cold rain. All hopes of phoning my eldest daughter on her birthday were gone. We had our breakfast and ginger tea and started climbing at 7:30. I did not know what was coming, and what could have been an easy chilled day became a horrid day filled with rain and snow storms.
Our first half of the day was a 6km climb with few descents in between. This was the first day I experienced my version of “afraid of heights”. I was definitely challenged on this day and although I found it easy physically, my head was playing horrible games with me. We had 3 extreme climbs the first half of the day but finished strong at 10:15.
Again we sent our team ahead to not wait for us at Karanga Camp. We had a short break here before we started walking again towards our final camp for the day, Barafu Camp.
We left Karanga Camp at 10:45 and arrived at Barafu Camp at exactly 13:00. Not only exhausted but mentally challenged. Well I was. We only walked 10 km, the first part was 6 km and the last part was 4 km. The last 4 km towards Barafu Camp was a steep climb of 4 km. The first 2 km was done in the rain, and the final 2kms was done during an extreme snow storm. It was so bad that I couldn’t see 5 meters in front of me. The snow was hitting my face from all directions.
I was freezing. This was the first day I felt like I was exactly where I didn’t want to be. The icy cold winds cutting through my bones while in the back of my head my princess was dancing and celebrating her birthday. Everything that I planned for her special day playing in the back of my head like a video tape. And all I could think of was how much I had failed her as a mom.
The climb continued and my mood went from bad to worse as we climbed higher and higher. The weather didn’t help. I was freezing. This was the first day I asked our guide the famous last words “are we there yet?” whilst fighting through the snow, the storm hitting us from all sides. I felt exhausted, exhausted by all the emotions and heart ache I felt in my inner being.
Finally, after our steep climb to 4672m above sea level we arrived and couldn’t even see our hands in front of us. It was stormy and windy. It wasn’t a good camp to arrive in, as we walked towards to camp house where we had to sign in I saw people descending from their summit and I got scared when I saw their faces. I only saw exhaustion mixed with terror and that scared me.
It scared me so much that I almost forgot all about my daughters birthday.
I couldn’t even hold the pen to sign in, my dad had to sign in for me. My hands were two blocks of ice. There was just no way I could have done it. Our next challenge was to find our camp and this took us a while as you can’t see what is going on or where. The storm just brought distraction and after searching high and low we finally found our team.
Once I was in the tent I just broke down for a second. I had to catch the emotion on camera, to remember that moment, so I did a short video.
The rest was good. It was still early and we had plenty of time to take it easy in our tents where we were protected from the storm outside our “walls.”
Get My Head In The Game
I had to straighten my head, I had to gather my thoughts, I had to be the woman I knew I was deep deep inside. I had to be strong, not just for me but for my princess who’s birthday I had missed.
We had lunch and before I knew it we had supper. Our vitals tested good and it was time to talk strategy. My dad wanted to climb to make the sunrise as this was the one thing they missed while climbing Kilimanjaro in January. I had no idea what this meant at the time so I was all for it.
I knew we had a 5 km walk and a 1.2 km climb in that 5 km which makes it a pretty steep climb. And I knew we were walking in the dark, that we were chasing the sunrise. But as for everything else I was in the dark. Literally and figuratively.
We sang “happy birthday” to Nika before dinner and this was the highlight of my day. It was so special to have the entire team sing with me to my daughter who was thousands of kilometres away from me.
During dinner our guide Salim told us we will start our climb at 00:30 to make it to the top for the sunrise. They work this according to your pace and how you manage the mountain towards this point.
We went to bed and it was a strange feeling going to bed knowing that when they wake me, I will be getting ready to start my summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Summit Towards The Top Of Kilimanjaro
We were woken at 23:00 and had our breakfast. I heard so many people talking around us, and soon realised that we were not alone.
That moment when I realised the time to climb was now, my worst fear and enemy dropped down on me. I suddenly felt weak, as if all my confidence had deserted me. Finally the clock struck midnight. It was time to finally climb the mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro. The time was now.
Conclusion Of The Day
It was tough, it was hard. Not once did I want to give up, but I was sad, and I was exhausted. I fought with my emotions all day long and that is exhausting in itself. There is no doubt about it, I can truly say that God carried me. I went through this all without telling my dad, I knew he had his own struggles.
To be honest I have no idea how he did this for the second time. At this point I kept thinking what was wrong with him doing this again. Honestly dad, RESPECT!
Physically we had a tough day, the toughest yet but not impossible. However mentally I had to fight a little with myself. I had to remind myself to be strong. But I did it. I pulled through and that is the best feeling ever. Knowing that you can mentally drag yourself through something as big as climbing Kilimanjaro and still make it to the top.
It’s all in the head. I’ve said this so many times but I will say it again. Climbing Kilimanjaro is not a physical climb, it’s a mental climb instead. And climbing Kilimanjaro day 4, is the hardest climb of all.