The following is an excerpt from my Kilimanjaro travel journal, written June 10, 2010
It’s Thursday afternoon, and we are relaxing in our tents at high camp Barafu.
This is our home for about 11 hours. During this time we are expected to rest, rehydrate and — if at all possible — try to get a few hours of sleep. Ultimately, the goal is to conserve every ounce of energy we can.
We will need it tonight.
We face a six-hour climb to the crater rim, beginning at midnight, followed by another hour to Uhuru Peak. It is expected to be cold and exhausting … and the air will grow thinner with every step we take while gaining about 4,000 more feet of elevation.
Of course, saving energy isn’t easy at altitude, and we expended quite a bit just to get here.
We awoke at 5:30 this morning, and by the time breakfast was served at 6 a.m. everyone in our group was buzzing with excitement. We had a nine-kilometer hike and 3,000-foot elevation gain ahead of us, but we all were anxious about one thing — the summit assault that would commence 18 hours later.
Today’s hike was exhaustive with a few steep inclines, but we arrived at Barafu (4,662 meters/15,295 feet) at 1 p.m. ready to relax and harness our energy for the big night tonight.
Joshua will let us know at our 5 p.m. dinner what time we will be awoken for a late-night breakfast. First, he will ask around and find out when other groups plan to depart and then determine when we should begin in order to avoid a logjam on the trail.
At the moment, the weather seems calm at the summit. All of us are hopeful it will stay that way for the next 16 hours.