Kilimanjaro Day 6: Barafu Hail And No Underwear?

Sunday, January 20, 2019
Start: Karanga Camp 3995m (13,106 ft.)
Stop: Barafu Hut Camp 4673m (15,331 ft.)
Distance: 5.2km (3.2 miles)
Gain: 678m (2,225 ft.)

Above Karanga Camp with Mt. Meru in the distance

It’s a short hike up to Barafu Hut Camp and there’s no rush to get there. The porters are still working on our tent setup when we arrive so they set out chairs for us. They have to wait for the people who are coming down from the summit to pack up and be on their way down the mountain. I’d rather jump in and help but nonetheless we sit there and watch as our tent city is erected. I’m sitting with Jesper, Toto and Mama Simba and we’re making guesses as to what the temperature might be. Jesper’s thermometer doesn’t seem right and then I get out mine. After setting it out for a while it’s registering 65F. Well, that’s not right either. Guess our cheapo thermometers don’t work at altitude. We call over to Katelyn and she thinks its just above freezing. Folks seem kinda tired but I’m feeling great and full of energy. The sun comes out momentarily and it feels amazing.

Guide Future takes a break against the backdrop of Kili (above) and porters work to set up our camp (below)
Our summit attempt will start with scaling this rock face

I’m the last one to my tent and then there’s just a short time before lunch. I’m super hungry and eat lots even though we’ll be having dinner in a few hours. After lunch the guides do summit gear check again to make sure we have our shit together. Two pairs of socks, waterproof boots, knee-high gaiters, thermal bottoms, fleece pants, rain pants, thermal top, patagonia hooded sunshirt, wool/fleece layer, down jacket, rain jacket, buff, beanie, headlamp. I make sure my electronics are all charged and then lay down with music in my ears. Hail intermittently pounds our tent all afternoon and maybe I fall asleep for a short time before we’re back up for dinner.

Stuck in the hail clouds

I’m not super hungry after the big lunch but manage to put away a decent amount of food. Gotta eat now because it’s going to be a long time before the next meal. And you could say that we have a bit of work ahead of us to get up the looming Kilimanjaro. We do one last health check and then Caspar recommends that us ladies don’t wear underwear under out thermals for the summit. It doesn’t sound like a good idea but when the boss tells you what to do, you do it. Pulse 93, Oxygen Sats 92, blood pressure slightly high, and a bit of a cough is developing from my post nasal drip. I feel like I always get a little cough at elevation.

Back in the tent I ready my pack for the climb and then put on as many layers of my summit clothes as possible. It’s time to try to get some sleep before our 11pm wake-up call. There’s a feeling in my gut but it’s hard to describe. Is it fear? Is it excitement? Is it like, holy shit what am I about to do? I think mostly, it’s disbelief that in a few hours I will see if I can make it over 19,000 feet to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. If I do sleep any, it’s intermittent.