Machame

7-09-07

the kili climb is fast approaching. Machame route. July 11th- July 16th

Mount Kilimanjaro.

19,336 feet - the tallest free standing mountain in the world.

It is a world unto itself, with five different ecological zones: bushland, rain forest, heath, alpine desert, and arctic. We live on the edge of the bushland, our daily runs taking us up into the coffee fields. Though  there are painfully steep bits, jogging about for a couple hours is not the preparation one might hope for the true trek.

The climb begins within the rain forest, where the air is thick with moisture, with animal cries, with oxygen.  Each zone falls back with a surprising suddenness, stripping the world away till it is just you, and the ice, and the rock, and 50% less breathable air.

There are many routes to the top, including ours. And while the experienced rock climber could choose a direct path with picks and rope, with others all you need is your own two feet and luck. Yet, Kili is proportionately one of the dangerous climbs in the world. The official death rate of 10-12 victims a year is openly acknowledged by locals as completely inaccurate. The number instead hovers somewhere around 50, though even that is nearly impossible to verify as deaths, especially of porters often go unreported.

IT BEGINS

7/10/07
who would you trust with your life?
seamus:


seamus and his brother and sister run the Marangu Hotel, an "old world style" 12-acre retreat, from which our Kili climb is organized. funny little british men, both seamus and his brother look and sound like hobbits- seamus lean where his brother is round and fidgety.


we visited the Marangu a few days in advance for some prep. luckily for us, it is just a short drive from the Doctors Compound at KCMC at which we live. seamus's "orientation" lecture for the climb was the first time it sunk in that we are actually doing this.

ernest, our lead guide:

THE WEIGHING

7/10/07

before heading out to kili's official national park boundary, the group's belongings must be weighed and distributed. we had three in our climbing party--myself, julia, and john.  as such, we had to have 1 lead guide and 2 assistant guides. the lead guide acts as the main path blazer, especially on the final ascent day. the assistant guides are primarily needed as a fail safe if anyone becomes hurt or too ill to continue. if one of us quit, an assistant guide could trek down the mountain with us while the others continue on.

in addition to the 3 guides, a reputable climbing crew will also have a cook who oversees all meals for us, the guides, and porters. with a party of now 7, you have to have a whole slew of porters to carry clothes, tenting, and food and water, etc.

kilimanjaro law has restrictions on how much weight each porter can carry. if a porter is forced to carry too much he can become exhausted and literally die from a whole host of accidents. all the porters' bags must be weighed, though you might not be aware of it. by comparison, john, juls and i were each carrying very little. and then there were the moments when you just thought you would die, and one of the guides would relieve you of your one tiny bag or camera to make you just that much lighter.


reminds me a bit of the weighing of souls. the whole "21 grams" theory-- that when we die, we loose 21 grams of weight, presumably, our soul.



we met all our porters and guides before we started. here john, as our leader, the baba (father/man) meets Ernest, our head guide, who will ultimately be responsible for our safety. he is responsible for evaluating our ability to continue up the mountain, an under appreciated skill. the symptoms of high altitude pulmonary edema can be very difficult to spot. what stands between you and that endless sleep is only an experienced guide.




as all this continues... i begin to have second thoughts... and third... and fourth...


DAY 1 hypoxic pulmonary vasoconstriction

7/11/07

obviously we made it back, though internet is so slow in moshi, i suppose i could still be posting from beyond the grave. in fact-to cut the suspense- we made it to Uhuru Peak, the highest point on the continent of Africa-which only about 50% of climbers succeed.

there is much to say about our adventure up the mountain... up the highest peak one is allowed to climb without technical skill... they gloss over the danger.

AMS- acute mountain sickness, causing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue or weakness, insomnia. Can worsen to High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and cerebral edema (HACE).
cerebral edema (swelling of the brain) is marked by sudden change in personality, drunken/unbalanced walking and a gradual loss of consciousness. pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), is marked by shortness of breath even when resting, extreme weakness, and confusion.

as seamus described: you just want to sit down and rest, and it seems perfectly reasonable to do so, though "The only real cure once symptoms appear is for the sufferer to move to a lower altitude as quickly as possible" there are no characteristics, genetic or physical, that will predispose one to AMS or HAPE/HACE. it strikes indiscriminately.  it doesn't matter how strong or healthy you are, how much you train. it just happens.

well. me, i guess i'm not made for the Roof, especially the hour and half spent walking from the ascent point, Stella (18,652 ft) to Uhuru. thankfully, my stepfather is a doctor and our guides were good.



sitting up there, i wanted to do nothing. i couldn't breathe. i couldn't move. mentally, the very best action, seemed to be no action at all. 


climbing the last day i could think of little, but i used the iambic pentameter of some of my old speeches to try and trudge through. on the way up, the phrase "to be or not to be" was just enough to step to.  running down the mountain would save me from hemorrhaging,  but the choice to act seemed much more complicated up there. 


breathing, dreaming... well, that seemed good.

if shakespeare were to write of my state of being at 19,340 ft- though my mind could only put together: "water. sit" -

To be or not to be, that is the question;
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to — 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th'oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action.


it would have been a peaceful way to die, at least.

but i jump ahead.

RAINFOREST

7/11/07

we gear up to begin

i'd just like to point out this porter's awesome pants.

there were a fair amount of people climbing the mountain. at various stops we'd catch up to them, especially at the campsites.

we quickly realized that we fit in better with the porters than the other mzungu (white/euro) climbers, the majority of whom wore fancy climbing outfits and carried high tech gear. we were equipped with old jeans, sweat pants, borrowed long johns and snow jackets. but really, we've always been the 2nd-hand group in every country, on every safari. no big whoop.


the path on the first day was quite beautiful. it reminds me some of climbing in ireland and the old celtic forests.



day one is rainforest, though we were lucky to miss the rain on the way up. you have to hit it at the right time of day, and you can usually miss it. i don't really understand that, but the porters did.





the first time we climbed kili back in 2001, we only climbed to the "First Hut" which is the "Coco Cola" trail's first campsite. that time, not just Julia, John, and I, but also mother and Isaiah climbed. the first day's climb (on both that trail and this one) is only supposed to take a few hours up and an hour or so down. back in 2001, however, we went VERY slow.

by the time we returned , we were "too late". that is, our guide on that long ago day, knew that we had missed the window of no rain in the rain forest. that time, on our way down we were caught in the deluge that gives the forest its name.

on this trip, however, we made good time. we could have gone faster and indeed saw many people speed past us. but we were advised to go pole pole (slowly) even on the first day. and really, why not? we could only go as far as our first camp regardless.

better to reserve and enjoy. julia was very good at this, though john had trouble slowing down. julia and i tried to use the "picture excuse" to keep the pace slower. we both have hundreds of pictures through the rain forest.


our first campsite gave us a view of the mountain far away in the fog. it was also freezing, we thought. which didn't bode well for when it would truly be freezing.














the dinner tent with tastiness, i'm rockin a hot hat, thanks to my friend meghan



DAY 2 Machame is not so nice

7/12/07


We chose the Machame route, the "whiskey trail" up kili because it is one day longer than the "coca cola" Marangu route and supposedly gives you more time to acclimate.

it only took the first day to understand the nicknames- whiskey: hard, coca cola: soft.

the first day is a good 5/6 hours through steep rain forest. we were lucky, we missed the rain and just got all the mud. our first campsite was cold, but charming, hidden among the trees. in the morning we were even granted with a view of kili before the clouds descended.


then came the second night. well, first the second day- we immediately left the protection of the trees going straight up into the brush of the Alpine terrain.

 it was again a steep walk and occasionally climbing up rocks. i didn't mind so much, but the altitude began to attack julia. nausea and weakness kept her pace very slow -pole pole - and eventually we were resting every 15 minutes.

i felt very bad for julia, though i was to feel worse for both of them by the end of the night. but, this was a great day for me.





while she felt like dying, i was enjoying a leisurely, if very steep, pace through the most bizarre fog and creeping vines. throughout the climb, again and again, i was reminded of the vistas from lord of the rings. though the film was shot in new zealand, when i watch them or reread those books, i can't help but think of all the sites of kili.




it is nearly impossible for an amateur to really capture it on film. the constant mist, fogs cameras, leaving shots with an ethereal glow. however, that is not far off from the truth. it was often hard to see more than a few feet into the distance and the various shades of green vines were like a curtain dividing this world from the next.



















second camp

julia revived at camp- a beautiful expanse looking over the valley. luckily, we arrived in the afternoon and had the whole rest of the day to relax. she even felt up to eating a bit a dinner. pole (sorry).

i woke from a fitful sleep in our watoto (children's) tent to see Juls projectile vomiting into a gallon sized ziplock bag.

now that is talent.

 the rest of the night both she and john lost every possible thing they could have ingested for at least the last month from, well... both ends.

 totally unhelpful, i laid in my sleeping bag listening to the constant zip and unzip of john's tent and ours as they tried to make it to the latrines. -- the latrines being a hole in the ground enclosed by 3 wooden walls, only sometimes with a door. i imagine this might be a reason people don't make it up the mountain. at 3 or 4 am, juls lost her flashlight when she got sick in the middle of the campsite and turned it off so no one would notice her.


john lost himself when he wandered weak from the latrine and couldn't identify his tent in the dark.

 the next morning was the one real time i thought we might not make it- when john came to our tent at dawn and said maybe we should turn back. i watched the beautiful african crows fighting over the frozen ziplocked vomit, while another attacked the frozen soiled long underwear and waited for a decision. but juls is mighty strong and it takes a lot to knock out john, so on we went.




well it was a beautiful campsite when we arrived, if not so much when we left.



BARTLETTS REVIVE

DAY 3 pole

7/13/07


the third day, john and julia rallied amazingly well considering the night before. for me, the day foreshadowed the pain to come- or at least should have.

Machame 3rd day of a 6 day climb you walk straight up to the Lava Towers. these are the huge remnants of the volcano eruption.








from this point you are only 3 kilometers from the top "as the crow flies." as we were ascending to towers, i realized i was suddenly going at a snail's pace and julia and john had bounded ahead of me. true, the climb was very steep, but not so much steeper than areas before. i couldn't understand why the top was not getting any closer, but my breathing was getting more and more labored.



pole pole sane
(very slowly) i finally arrived at the towers. it was freezing cold at the top. so cold that my hands were burning. julia and john chatted and enjoyed lunch, but i could do little more than sit in a tight ball, shielded from the wind by the rock.

i was so nauseous from the altitude i couldn't look at my lunch, but stuck to chai. stanley encouraged me to eat a boiled egg, though after one bite i fed the rest to a lone chipmunk that appeared at my feet. who knew chipmunks would be in such a cold, high place?

at the time i was glad it wasn't snowing, but it is quite sad to think barely 7 years ago it was covered with ice and now it is barren. it is might be hard to see qualitative evidence of global warming, but here on the mountain, it is undeniable.




almost worse than climbing to the lava towers was descending from them. to have come so far up only to go down!!! oh it was terrible. you work and work for your goal, only to back track all over...



this was the day we climbed up then down, then up and down through the ridges to get to the opposite side of the mountain. then, on the way down into the valley in which we would spend the night, we had to climb along a frozen stream full of loose rocks.





in the middle of this we came upon a large boulder with kiswahili graffiti as well as the line "jesus lives" scrawled across it. here we are in the middle of one of the most beautiful places in the world, one of the few places nature can still be glimpsed as feral, raw power, and man has to find a way to mark it, demean it as just another spot for human waste!






as i shook my head in disgust, i slipped and twisted my ankle. typical. pole.


our 3rd campsite










hobbling along over the treacherously insecure rocks, the last 20 minutes stretched into over an hour as we tried to preserve my foot. at camp, i immediately took some meds and elevated it, hoping for enough recovery to continue.

DAY 4 scramble

7/14/07
the path winds forever. down is so unfair.
the fourth day of the machame route began quite early on the "breakfast trail" which is up the Barranco Wall. the trail is considered a "scramble" in rock climbing terms, that is, you have to use your hands and feet to scale the rocky wall, though we didn't need ropes. 


 it is very steep and perhaps would have made me nervous if i had bothered to look down. i don't know why you are meant to do it early in the morning, other than it is a very long day of climbing to get to the final ascent campsite. trying to be clever, i had worn 3 socks on my twisted foot to stabilize it without a wrapping. STUPID. SHANGALABANGALA.

we climbed we the first light but without the risen sun, the route was so incredibly cold i felt like i was crawling up the wall with bloody stumps for feet. 



 to make matters worse, thinking i was stepping on solid ground, with my good foot, i stepped through ice into foot deep mud that oozed into my shoe. finally, i could go no further on my excruciatingly cold stubby feet. 


we wedged against a rock while john and julia removed my shoes. they stripped my sodden boots and socks and held my bare feet in their hands - thawing them as best they could. i put away the extra socks, replacing the mud-drenched ones. i had known extra socks only make you colder, but i pathetically had forgotten. i can't imagine what our guides must have thought of us, huddled and shoeless at that point.

luckily, soon after that sad sight, the sun crested the ridge and began to warm things up.


  with a 6 day hike, you have to walk through the Karanga campsite on to Barafu. our porters had paused at Karanga and set up our foldable table for a "proper" lunch of wonderful rehydrated soup. a nice change and something we could force down even with queasy stomachs. 


after many hours, we finally made it to Barafu - "snow" - camp. perhaps because we had gotten their so late, our Camp Master, Amani, had little options where our tents would go. even though the amount of climbers that can be on the mountain is limited to a select number every day, the smaller camp sites get crowded.  


the sooner your porters arrive at a sight, the sooner they can set up your group's camp.  again, it takes an experienced crew to pick the best spot for your tents. there are many things to consider; the size of your group, the closeness of other campers, the distance to the latrines, the views. on your last night before ascent location is even more important as you will be climbing in the pitch black. would your group rather be as close to the start of the climb as you can, there by reducing the amount you climb in the dark, or would you trade for easier breathing and thus sleeping slightly lower? most probably pick something in between, not sacrificing too much oxygen, but keeping you from crawling through too much of the campsite at night. 


after some kiswahili argument, our tents were placed precariously on a ledge. literally about 2 feet seperated us from the abyss. john looks out from his tent:

this night we would be able to sleep from 8pm till the wake up at 11:30pm. 11:30pm for chai and then the ascent to the top, or at least a try. Ernest came to give Julia and I a pep talk. o, how i wish i had a recording of the speech, which was all the more fabulous for our understanding only about every 4th word of his english.


peeing is a dangerous venture, especially in the dark
one last picture before the sun sets and we try to sleep:

DAY 5 ascent

7/17/07

Stella Ascent Point 18,652 ft/5,685 m. the crater rim:

the fifth day of the machame route begins at 11:30pm the night before.

Bariki, the cook, pressed chai and cookies upon us.

we got out the ski suits and, for extra measure, beneath the ski suit i wore 3 pairs of pants, 3 shirts, a fleece, thin and thick socks, a neck warmer, an ear warmer, a turtle (a ski mask that covers your whole head), and 2 pairs of gloves- the last pair so large that my hands rested in the palms like mittens. this perhaps sounds like overkill, but i cannot take the cold. i would rather look absolutely ridiculous than give up because i am freezing.


 my backpack carried my camera, 2 canteens of water, my "despair chocolate," and hand and feet warmers- chemical miracles that when subjected to air, emit heat, though only for a good 20 minutes instead of the promised 7 hours.

we climbed barely 20 minutes before my doom set in.



all of my american stair climbers, my daily training running along the base of killi, not to mention swimming and weight lifting and hours of fitness at school... all for naught.

scrambling up the rock wall in the pitch black, the pitiful glow from my headlamp allowed only the smallest beam. 
the ascents are always attempted at midnight supposedly so you can see the sun rise from the mountain peak. 


but in truth, i think if you could see where you were being led,  the climb would be much harder. scaling cliffs is easier when you can't see the drop to either side. and the fact that there is not a clear path up, just your guide's chosen rock, well that is hidden when all you can see are his feet in front of you.

i could've cared less about any of that. 


 a step in the wrong direction meant little to me when i could barely bring one foot in front of the other.


 i couldn't breath. my layers rendered me a moon man, adrift on an inhospitable moon, my space suit weighing me down. 


i struggled for breath, sweating even while my toes froze. i thought nothing could be more horrible- if only i could take one good deep breath. 


my book bag was quickly taken from me- only my walking stick and a single canteen left to manage. 


i had been told to bring "despair chocolate" - chocolate carefully broken into bite sized pieces so as not to break your teeth when frozen, that you could pop in your mouth when it seemed you could go no further. the chocolate was to give you a spurt of sugar induced energy.  the idea had delighted me, sparking my Harry Potter/dementor fantasies. but up there, the chocolate immediately turned my stomach, threatening to come right back up. i abandoned my despair chocolate. worse, our canteens froze quickly, leaving us only ice to suck.

i had also been told to think of your "happy place" but forgot all about any happiness in my life.  and when Julia kept announcing "i'm thinking of eating NeoChina with Allison" i thought she had lost her mind. 


i was living solely in the present. no past, no future. nothing outside this moment. before long, i could only manage a handful of thoughts at all and none of it was inspiring "get-me-up-this-freakin-thing"-- only a bit of iambic pentameter, then finally just counting my steps: 1, 2, 3, 4... 1, 2... 1... 1,2,3,4,5,6... 1... 1... 1...

i hardly noticed when we reached the dreaded scree- the loose volcanic rock that slides you back for every step forward. 


 it is hard to describe just what it was like. the burning cold, the nearly vertical path, the ground that slipped away so you never seemed to get any closer- the unbearable weight of someone sitting on my chest refusing me any air. 


my mind lit upon the image of Frodo, making his final ascent to Mount Doom to toss the One Ring- sweating, sick, crawling forward with agonizing slowness, too burdened to even claim failure. and Sam, at his side urging him forward, promising, 'just one more step.' like Sam, who picked Frodo up and carried him the last steps- our assistant guide Abde, wrapped his arm through mine and urged my pace forward.

hours earlier I had stopped talking and it didn't occur to me to tell anyone when i began seeing stars or when the snow seemed to be green, then purple. 



i didn't notice the sun rising, or julia and john posing, blessfully unharmed by the altitude. 


there was nothing left in me, no where to draw from, no reserve untapped. i was haunted by the empty void inside, but had nothing left even to beg for relief- easier to keep going then to quit. I do remember Abde suggesting they leave me behind, go on to the top while he and i continued. but Julia tells me now she would have drug me up herself, that she could see the top and by god we were going to make it somehow.

brainless yet? reviving with chai, the monster rests:

and she was right. 8 and a 1/2 hours from when we began, we made Stella Point. 


it was beautiful and cold and i sat right down in the lee of a rock. i pulled my gloves off and shoved my hands through my clothes to my belly. someone handed me chai and tried to give me a cookie. i took a picture through people's legs and began to feel normal.

But Stella is not technically the top. the top is Uhuru Peak, the tallest point on the African continent. 



 it appeared deceptively close, and Julia and John-they tell me now- were experiencing the opposite of me- a rush of adrenaline, the feeling of flying, they would run to the peak! 


we waited too long for my breathing to slow, 20 minutes, a severe error. then began the walk to the top. i started a few paces ahead, even cheered enough to congratulate a man coming back from Uhuru whom we had crossed many times in the last few days. 


 but the cheer was short lived. julia and john quickly overcame me and went on, while Stanley and Abde kept watch. there was no pain in this step though. slow and breathless, my brain turned off. the sun was blinding on the snow, my goggles gave everything a pretty golden hue. within an hour, moving one foot then the next brought me to Uhuru and i was allowed to rest.

success! swollen in sweatshirts, fleece, turtlenecks, long underwear, sweatpants, yoga pants, and skisuit, looking totally shangalabangala next to the rest:

from here, reality and my memory do not seem to mesh. 



 i know we took pictures. i know i had to pee and Ernest scouted out a spot from which we wouldn't fall, but was just over the other side of the peak for a bit of modesty. i had to take off my jacket and wrestle with layers to bare my ass to the mountain. yes, i took my clothes off on the highest point in Africa.


as i struggled, exhausted, to pull them back up, i remember julia sitting on an ice "toilet." i remember being told we must leave, that "the altitude is not good." i remember thinking over and over "just a little bit of water."

if left to me i would have just stayed up there, as demonstrated when i sat down on the ice, unconvinced that moving would do any good. 



 Julia, overcome with sudden nausea and threatening to pass out, was brilliant- she rushed back to Stella point and, with Stanley, ran down the mountain. John suddenly felt the same urge but when i pulled back my layers to breathe easier, he saw my dark blue lips and my spacey eyes. he says he asked me questions and at first i responded that i should like to lay down and brush my hair. he yelled at me to get moving, but the ice had melted and refrozen during our long stay at Uhuru, making the climb back to Stella unbearably slippery and difficult.

i wished to slide down the ice, but john, envisioning me flying off the side of the tallest African peak refused.


finally, making no head way, i ignored him and sat on the ice, slowly sliding from one level to the next. by the time we made it back to Stella, he says i had stopped responding at all, though i seem to have memory of responding, perhaps only in my head. 


 after confirming that Ernest would get me down quickly, he took off alone.

there is no time for "rescue" off the mountain for altitude sickness. no sudden helicopters to bring you down quickly, not even stretchers. 


you must get yourself down on your own feet. for the able bodied, the scree is like skiing. the 8 hours up should take barely 2 on return. Abde wrapped his arm through mine again and began to run. i tried to help. my feet slid through the scree, and i tried hopelessly not to fall. Ernest took all Abde's things and my jacket and layers- i contemplated stripping off my 3 shirts, but thankfully didn't.

I left my goggles on, fiercely protective of my eyes if nothing else. 



 at one point i rested on a rock, but slid off to the ground, unknowingly ripping a long tear through the whole backside of my skipants. Julia says she looked up and it appeared Abde was pulling a crazy blind person, as I gazed through my dark goggles into the distance and he jerked me from side to side, my clothes falling off. 


Permanent brain damage, she thought.

DAY 6 fini

7/18/07
11 africans to drag 3 wazungu up the mountain:

 


permanent brain damage.
hmm. well, hard to tell. Julia says John asked her if i was "acting weird" up at the top and she thought- 'she was just acting like Chrissy.'

after they managed to drag me to the Barafu camp, i was allowed to rest for a moment while we packed up the campsite. julia and i burst into tears. why? don't really know. we were exhausted and -in truth- once my brain began to work, it was quite frightening to recall how easily i could've stayed up top in a frozen slumber. we shoved our things in our bags and continued on a terribly long descent all the way to Mweka camp, at only 10204 ft/3102 m. 5 days of climbing up to descend almost the whole way in one day. that was a freaking long day. 11:30pm to 12am to 7pm with barely a half hour rest. my brain "recovered" rather quickly, though my nausea stayed with me for quite a while. wrenching off my boots, i found both my big toenails were already filled with blood and the toenails are surely kufa (dead)- the result of being dragged instead of running appropriately down the scree. but as juls said, better toenails than half a brain. exhausted, i found it hard to sleep and for the first time had to creep my way to the latrine in the pitch dark.

our last day on the mountain was a relatively brief walk through incredibly muddy rain forest down to the Mweka gate. a record is kept by Tanzania of everyone that has climbed, their highest point, and their guide. you are issued a certificate if you reach any of the 3 highest points of kili. this certificate is extremely important and the first thing asked after by the locals- the certified proof of your climb: did you get your certificate? let me see it. you must bring it.

the proof of uhuru:
i was surprised as we descended to come across so many that did not make it. those that quit days ahead, those that made Barafu but did not even attempt the ascent, those forced back part way to Stella, or those who only gazed at Uhuru from a distance and returned.

why did i make it-twisted ankles, frozen extremities, sick, with bleeding feet? as Stanely said to John "Your Son [meaning me] is very strong." I guess so.


The question for me was never to turn back. I was never obviously sick, like juls and john. my nausea, my weakness, and eventually my brain, were all internal. i remembered something i believe Robin told me once or had me read- the effort to complain, or even grimace is better put to the struggle. and though it was slow, much slower than many, and though it nearly killed me, i made it.


Can i hold on to the metaphor of the mountain? it is impossible not to see the implications of it in my own life. simply jogging, i am reminded- how can i quit now, this is not as hard as Kili, not as cold or hot, i can breathe, i am not empty. but of course even further the comparison is unavoidable. i am an actress- unemployed for quite a while, frustrated and more often depressed by my comparative successes to my friends and colleagues and family.

i see around me what i have sacrificed, the relationships, the security. but am i yet empty? and even when i have given everything, does that mean my feet stop? do i turn back, beaten, or do i go on? reaching my highest peak, battered physically, mentally, and perhaps only half brained, but reaching it some day all the same...

better words than mine: Matthew Parris covered his trip up kilimanjaro for The Spectator.

try to remember




is chrissy being weird?