Days 4-6 of the climb, the summit and decent.
It began fairly early on day 4 of the climb, we had just had our acclimatization day the day previous, we started at 8 am so we could reach the Kibo hut with plenty of time for food and sleeping before our attempt at the summit, the trek to Kibo started out as a rocky track which twisted quite frequently, but it changed into more of a gravel track similar to those found in parks quite quickly and our surroundings changed from an alpine moorland with an abundance of shrubs and rocks to a flat open desert with a few very small little shrubs dotted around, it was three quarters of the way through the walk to Kibo that sadly we said goodbye to Paul, he had almost fainted and so was taken back down to Horombo hut as it would have been dangerous for him to continue, this was a sad moment for the whole group as we had spent the previous days talking about how we would be the first year with a 100% success rate, however this wouldn’t happen. Never the less we carried on and the rest of the group made it to Kibo hut for about 5 pm where we had biscuits and black tea with as much sugar as was tolerable. We then had a small meal and a brief from Charlie the head guide in which he said not to worry as the guides would do anything to get us up to the top including if it came to it pushing us up there. I laughed at the thought of someone being pushed up the mountain if only I had known. We went to bed with all bar 4 of the group in one room and myself, Elliot, Sam V and Dominic rooming with a group consisting of 2 Canadians and 2 Belgians who were going to be summiting a little earlier than us the same night. We spent a good half an hour laughing at the inscriptions drawn and carved into the bunk room walls, some jokes some sappy and a very entertaining tale from a man who claimed while summiting with his parents that the guides had turned on him and proceeded to push his mother off the side of the mountain and shoot his father, before warning not to summit and claiming it was safe at Horombo. I went to sleep nervous about the following day’s climb and decent ahead of me.
We all Awoke Promptly at 11pm (not) and donned our 5 layers on top and 3 layers on our legs as shamus had suggested before meeting at half past for tea and a biscuit before beginning our final ascent shortly after midnight, using the varying lights of our headlamps like a glow worm we began to work our way up the final climb of 1200m, just before we had trudged a quarter of the way up the mountain Mrs Sly was feeling rather ill from the altitude and chose to turn back, making her the second and only other person to not reach a peak. We carried on further up the mountain and by the next water break I was feeling quite ill, I turned to Charlie our head guide and managed to utter “Charlie I don’t feel….” before turning around and vomiting. As a result a guide took my bag and one of my jackets to try and cool me off. We had short breaks of five or ten minutes which led to me vomiting at each one and so shortly before the halfway mark I believed I was going down, I began to sob at the thought of leaving the group this late after everything we had done and how far we had come, luckily max gave me a shoulder to cry on, then much to my surprise Charlie said he would see how I was further on. I was flooded with joy that I would continue. So when we reached the halfway point at 5100m above sea level with the temperature now plummeting before dawn we had a quick cup of tea and hoped our camel packs would stay liquid a little longer and our bottles began to get frosty on top, we had wrapped them in socks prior to the ascent so the water would stay liquid at the subzero temperatures of the peak. We continued on hiking up the mountain getting more and more annoyed by Matt S and Freya singing 100 green bottles sat on a wall for what seemed like hours. By the time we reached the final part of the ascent the last hundred meters which consisted of jagged stone steps of volcanic rock the temperature was approaching -20 degrees c and all our camel packs had frozen, the wind was approaching 40 mph and it had reached the point that guides and us alike were being sent off balance by these gusts, by this point i had fully succumb to the altitude sickness, I had a guide pushing me up the mountain and feeding me my chocolate and holding my bottle for me to drink out of as I had reached a point where i had no balance and very little feeling or movement in my extremities, luckily i had stopped vomiting at this point. It took two guides one in front grabbing me by the forearms and another behind to push me for me to make it up the steps towards Gilman’s point with Sam V and Dom also feeling the effects of the altitude quite acutely. But eventually by 7:40 am all bar Mrs Sly and Paul had reached Gillman’s point. I was ecstatic to have reached this point in the climb as merely hours ago I had cried thinking I would be going back down. But now along with my friends (minus Paul sadly) we were at one of the three summits. Quickly the guides asked who was going further and all bar myself, Sam V and Dom decided to continue on. I watched as they streamed around the side of a rock and away before the three of us with a single guide hoisted ourselves up to begin the descent. I’m going down was the easy part really any symptoms we had had of altitude sickness quickly faded and so a huge weight felt as though it had been lifted, sliding down the scree on the side of the mountain was easy, you just dig a heal in and let yourself slide along, Dom however was still feeling quite ill so while me and Sam V glided down the slope Dom hobbled along with the help of the guide. When we reached Kibo hut we expected a little sleep waiting for the others some food and then to complete the rest of the descent to Horombo camp but Dom didn’t look to good so Mrs Sly, Dom, Sam V and myself carried on down the mountain with a light snack and little else. About 4 hours ahead of the others, we arrived at Horombo, we had a chance to sit and chat with Paul for an hour before he was taken the rest of the way down by medical car as he was still ill. following his departure Dom, Sam V and Myself went to sleep. I awoke briefly when Elliot arrived into our little hut but then quickly went back to sleep missing the rest of the group and then dinner, but when our 15 hour power nap had finished at 7 am ready for breakfast we knew we only had to make it to the bottom which at the quick pace we had been going downhill wouldn’t be too difficult. So at about 3 pm on day 6 the group had made it to the end, and we were all better for it, we were without Ethan and Paul as they had been taken to the hotel via the medical car earlier on. But when we arrived at the hotel at roughly 3:30pm we were reunited. We quickly gave our borrowed items back and collected our own and said a huge thank you and goodbye to the guides before dashing for one of the most needed showers in most of our lives.