Nearly There!- Part 5
Summit day! Wrapped up in several layers of clothing, hats, gloves etc., we switch on our head torches and start our ascent up the 50-60degree slope of loose gravel. With each step, your foot sinks into the gravel and you seem to slide inexorably back as much as you move forward. It’s at this point that the Zombie Shuffle begins: one foot in front of the other, trudging slowly up in a zigzag line, following the feet in front of you.
We pass other groups: people collapsed vomiting as we trudge slowly past. After a few hours, we reach William’s Point and soon after, the Hans Meyer Cave. At this point, four of us continue, as Charlie and Adam are suffering from altitude sickness. By now, it’s hard to walk more than 20 meters without stopping to try and get some oxygen into our lungs.
Our guides keep us moving, as stopping for too long will just mean we will begin to freeze. It is that cold. Glancing up shows a slow trail of torches moving ahead.
Zombie Shuffling through the Jamaican rocks finally brings us within touching distance of Gilman’s Point at 5,691m. This otherwise welcome sight was unfortunately accompanied by the full force of the wind sweeping over the ice, reducing the temperature even further. Only an hour and a half to go. If anyone tells you it’s easy from this point then they are lying. There’s still no oxygen and when you can’t feel your extremities you know it’s cold. With barely 10minutes to Uhuru Peak at 5,895m, the welcome glow of the sun rising bathing the snow with dawn light, is quickly snuffed out by the clouds rolling in even more. No relief from the cold yet.