SFU Co-op Student Takes Kilimanjaro Summit

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SFU Co-op Student Takes Kilimanjaro Summit

By: Kelsey Newsham | Comunication Co-op Student
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I'll recap the experience of Mt Kilimanjaro as it is one I shall never be able to forget. We'll skip to the last part - Summit night.We had hiked for 7 and 1/2 hours that day in the heat and through valleys to a lunch spot that gave us all vertigo. We sat and stared only at the clouds and blue sky that were below us. There was nothing else. We could not even see land below. We arrived into camp before the sun set but we wouldn't stay here for long, hiking would begin again in a few short hours. It was dinner and then off to bed for, with luck, four hours of sleep.

It's 10:30pm and we are woken for 'breakfast' before departing to the summit. It is here on this leg that many turn back before reaching Kili's peak. It's complete darkness except for our headlamps and fatigue begins to take its toll on two of our group. Diarreah begins again with three of them and Laurie, a family friend, is having a hard time breathing. Amy and Natalie are so cold their hands have to be warmed up by our guides. Pam throws up and weakens.

Just after the half way mark the mountain takes its toll on me as well. My body rages with dry heaving due to the altitude. I heave and continue walking knowing the top is less than 3 hours away but I cannot see it. I only see darkness. I fall to one side aware that my body is exhausted and am helped up by a good friend. Just 15 mins from the top I throw up and am held by our guide as the group moves on- they have rhythm now and must continue on to make it. I know I'll be right behind them once I stop vomiting.

Then, as one foot goes in front of the other methodically I am there - standing at the 'first' peak of Kilimanjaro - Africa's tallest Mountain. It's one hour of sheer will to the actual summit and we walk in silence. I am unable to cry - I am too tired and stunned at the surroundings, but everyone else in our group does.

We have all made it. A feat our guide tells us is rare -first that we all know each other and second that we all made it together. With that, we take pictures and hike three hours down to our camp, only to rest for two hours then hike down another hour hours. No one can truly understand the joy and exhilaration of being almost beyond yourself but refusing to turn back.

In total, today we have had:
21 hrs of hiking, 4 hrs of sleep, at an altitude of: 19340 feet, and it's day 6.

Read part two of Kelsey's post, where she learns about volunteering.

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Posted on January 08, 2011