DAY 4 scramble

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:

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