• Flickr Recent Photos

    Black and white icebergPenguins jumpingIMG_6226.jpgIMG_6221.jpgIMG_6213.jpgIMG_6208.jpgIceberg emerging from the mistIMG_6149.jpgIMG_6141.jpgIMG_1193.jpg
More photos »

The Dusts of Kilimanjaro Part III

Posted by Jason del Sur in Kilimanjaro 2010
November 3rd, 2010

Read Part I

Read Part II

Part III of III

While it felt like we, having achieved our apotheosis as lords of Africa, were standing on Mount Olympus, the frigid air and the fatigue spurred us to begin our descent poste haste. The way back to Barafu camp was long, but not nearly as arduous as the ascent. Instead of sucking you down and impeding your upward progress, the dust now allowed for something less ambulatory and more akin to skiing. We kicked up the dust behind us, leaving the snows and the summit in our wake.

Dust-skiing down Kilimanjaro

About three hours after reaching the summit, we arrived back to camp to be greeted by hot tea and a warm breakfast. A short nap, and it was time to get packed up and descend even further to our final camp.

It’s this segment of the trek that I had the worst time. I originally believed we only had an hour and a half to the next camp. It distressed me to discover about 45 minutes in that we actually had about four hours left to go. I do not believe I have ever been that exhausted in my life. Even though we had the goal of camp, but had already achieved our primary goal, leaving little excitement for what lied ahead.

On the way down we discovered what happens if you get sick or hurt on the mountain. They have these “stretchers” they wheel you out on. It’s a metal frame, you’re tucked in with sleeping backs and strapped in tightly. There’s only one wheel on the stretcher, but it’s a heavy-duty off-roading wheel on shocks. Once you’re strapped in, it then takes six people to steer this vessel. Going over the rocks and drops did not appear to be my idea of fun. You already have mountain sickness, now it’s time to add motion sickness to the mix.

This is how they bring you down Kili if you get hurt

Four hours later, we entered the final camp. It was probably the nicest camp we stayed at. They even sold beer and Coke at the hut. I believe if you take the Marangu Rough (also known as the Coca-Cola Route; ours, the Marangu route is also known as the Whiskey Route), most of the camps are closer in style to this on. Oddly enough for me, I had no desire for a celebratory beer. I did, however, crave a Coca-Cola. And let me tell you, it was the best $3 Coke I’ve ever had. Pure cane sugar, glass bottle: Coke the way it was made to be imbibed (you can sometimes find Mexican Coke at the grocery store, which is the same style, but lacking the “I just climbed the highest fucking mountain in Africa” feeling).

The best $3 coke ever

Epilogue

The next morning we awoke, feeling reborn. It was time to return home from our adventure, the Masters of Two Worlds. We celebrated with a rousing song by our crew, and walked under Machame gate one final time.

Us and our Crew

We spent the next day exploring the city of Moshi a little more, collecting souvenirs, and enjoying our final Tusker beers (named after the elephant who killed one of its founders).

Moshi Town Moshi Town

Delicious Delicious Tusker Tusker Beer

And finally, that evening, we boarded the airplane, departing out of Africa with a newfound Freedom to Live, this hero’s journey at its end. There will of course, be many adventures yet to come.

“The hero is the champion of things becoming, not of things become, because he is. ‘Before Abraham was, I AM.’ He does not mistake apparent changelessness in time for the permanence of Being, nor is he fearful of the next moment (or of the ‘other thing’), as destroying the permanent with its change. ‘Nothing retains its own form; but Nature, the greater renewer, ever makes up forms from forms. Be sure there’s nothing perishes in the whole universe; it does but vary and renew its form.’ Thus the next moment is permitted to come to pass.” – Joseph Campell

The Dusts of Kilimanjaro Part II

Posted by Jason del Sur in Kilimanjaro 2010
October 29th, 2010

Read Part I

Part II of III

Unlike Dante’s ascent up Mount Purgatory, this didn’t get easier as we climbed closer to the peak. As we climbed higher and higher, the terra firma beneath our feet became less and less solid. Hemingway and others always remarked on the snows of Kilimanjaro, but they had obviously never climbed it, otherwise they would have known there was more dust than snow on the slopes. As we reached closer to Gillman’s point 5685 meters above sea level (18,651ft), our feet began to sink into the dirt. Each step forward was like walking on sand, sliding you half a step back down. It was near this point that I last checked my thermometer. 10ºF it read still nearly 1,000 ft below the summit (still a couple miles horizontally from our goal).

I had been carrying a down coat in my bag thinking I would need it, but my many layers of Polartec, Smartwool, fleece, and Gortex (product placement: REI and 3M, where’s my money?) were thankfully keeping me adequately warm. I can’t say the same for my chemical hand warmers, which apparently don’t work well in low oxygen. But my coat did come in handy for my less warm-blooded companion, so I am happy I didn’t carry it for nothing.

Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)

We reached Gillman’s Point around 5:30 or 6am. I had no watch the entire trip, so unlike (or like, depending on your interpretation) Dean Moriarty, I did not know time. Regardless of our human chronology, it was the hour Diana’s brother mounted his chariot for his diurnal expedition across the sky. While it was a spectacular sunrise, our enjoyment was tempered by the arduous trail still ahead of us.

Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5) Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)

Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)

Shortly thereafter we finally found the Snows of Kilimanjaro. While it might have been easier walking than the shale and dust of lower elevations, trekking through snow is no easy task. The snow on the path was tightly packed and worn from years of explorers like us and the temperature rarely rising above freezing. Up ahead of us we could see a crowd of people gathered around a sign most people have only seen in pictures. “Congratulations / You are now at / Uhuru Peak Tanzania 5,895 M. AMSL / Africa’s Highest Point / World’s Highest Freestanding Mountain.” The five of us, with the help our our guides had made it to the summit.

Our group at Uhuru Peak

Here at the glory of the summit, Willem revealed his cupcake, frosting, candle, and all. However, much to our disappointment, there was too little oxygen to light the candle. We would have to wait until we reached lower elevation to properly celebrate his 45th birthday.

Willem celebrates at Uhuru peak with his birthday cake

To be concluded…

The Dusts of Kilimanjaro

Posted by Jason del Sur in Kilimanjaro 2010
October 26th, 2010

Part I of III

“I just want to take off these pants and take a nap,” I was thinking. Oh, it’s 10am. Yes, 10am is in media res of the longest day of my life (well, technically two days, but since there was never more than an hour of sleep, for the sake of the story I’m counting it as one).

The camp to which we returned, even more so now than the previous day, greeted our exhaustion with the face of a refugee camp. The shale beneath our feet clattered together like broken glass. The fog weighed on our bodies much the same way the delirium of the past 12 hours clouded our souls. The only deus ex machina I craved was the appearance of my sleeping bag and breakfast.

Kilimanjaro Day 5

The previous day had begun much like the prior four days. At six we were awakened for morning tea in our tents followed by breakfast. We packed up our gear and began ascending the mountain once again. After about four hours of hiking we reached Barafu camp, which, as I mentioned earlier, resembled a refugee camp. We took our lunch and relaxed for a while.

Fortunately for us, today’s and the previous day’s treks were broken up, unlike the trek of our friends Brian and Alex, who were taking the six day Machame route. (The seven day trip gives you slightly more reprieve on these two days.) We had met them the first day, and they had continued to appear from time to time to provide us our comic relief. This particular Rosencrantz and Guildensternian (or if you are more geekily inclined, C3-P0 and R2-D2ian) duo hailed from Ireland.

Kilimanjaro Day 3

As many an Irishman is wont to do, they enjoy their whiskey. They had brought with them a small bottle of whiskey with which they planned to toast their success. Our paths once again crossed as they were coming down from the summit. They informed us that, although they had both successfully reached Uhuru Peak, their fatigue had prevented them from imbibing at the top.

We hoped our plans for the top would be more successful. Willem, our favourite South African, was 44 at the beginning of the trip. He had planned it so summit day would fall on his 45th birthday. To celebrate he was carrying a cupcake in a small tupperware tin to enjoy at the peak.

After a light dinner, we all retired tour our tents for a short nap. Around 11pm our guides roused us from our slumber. By midnight we had donned our gear, and we were on the trail again.

Kilimanaro Night 2

We ascended in the dark with nothing but our headlamps to guide us. Anything further away than a few feat became obscured in the darkness. When we looked up the mountain, other than the slight movement of the lights, it was difficult to tell in the firmament above where the headlamps of the hikers ahead of us stopped and where the stars began.

To be continued…

Kilimanjaro Photos

Posted by Jason del Sur in Kilimanjaro 2010, Photo Albums
September 25th, 2010

I am almost done with my final blog post about my Kilimanjaro expedition. It’s an epic one that I’ll probably split up into two or three parts. In the meantime, here is the full set of photos:

Kenya Airways - The Pride of AfricaThat's Africa down there!View of Kilimanjaro from MoshiKondomGod Hates Corruption Join HimThey love Obama in TanzaniaTusker BeerDelicious Delicious TuskerJulienne's a badassPorters getting readyKilimanjaro RulesKilimanjaro RulesJulienne and I at Machame GateNight 1 - Machame HutsNight 1 - Machame HutsDay 2 MorningAthman looks confused going upFlora of KilimanjaroFlora of KilimanjaroKilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Shira CavesKilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 26 Hours to BarrancoKilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Day 2Kilimanaro Night 2Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 3Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Porter with Eskimo Joe's ShirtKilimanjaro Day 4 - Barranco WallKilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4 - Julienne scrambles up Barranco WallKilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4This trail is prohibitedKilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Day 4Kilimanjaro Night SkyKilimanjaro Night SkyKilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Day 5Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Uhuru PeakWillem celebrates at Uhuru peak with his birthday cakeOur group at Uhuru PeakKilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)Kilimanjaro Summit Night (Night 5)This is how they bring you down Kili if you get hurtWillem finally gets to light his candlesOur teamUs and our CrewMoshi BreweryMoshi TownMoshi TownMoshi TownMoshi TownJulienne goes emo.Texting and driving - a problem even in Africa. Watch out for the cows!African Last Supperto sort 1230to sort 1088to sort 1110to sort 1234The best $3 coke everJumping at Lava TowerDust-skiing down Kilimanjaro

Africa’s Jumpin’ Little Juke Joint

Posted by Jason del Sur in Kilimanjaro 2010
August 18th, 2010

This one’s mainly for the family. Both of my parents and several of my aunts, uncles, and cousins, went to Oklahoma State in Stillwater, OK. The few times I’ve been to Stillwater we would always go and stop by Eskimo Joe’s, a hip little restaurant (formerly bar) that’s been there since the 70’s, for some grub. Their cheese fries are something magical (I believe the Inuits have 72 different words for french fry[citation needed]).

The Eskimo Joe’s t-shirt is one of the most widely purchased t-shirts in the world. You can’t go anywhere in the Oklahoma/Texas/Great Plains area without seeing someone wearing the shirt. At one point it was reported that it was the most widely purchased t-shirt behind Hard Rock Cafe. That’s pretty impressive considering there’s only one of them (they have expanded to a second restaurant Mexico Joe’s).

Now, as Julienne has noted on her blog, Tanzania is where t-shirts go to die. They wear the shirts, but don’t really know what they mean. She saw a guy wearing a Curves (yes, the women’s gym) shirt. Even more serendipitously, she saw someone wearing a shirt from Schoolyard Tavern, a bar just half a mile from me and less than a block from an old apartment.

So it should have been no surprise that Eskimo Joe’s had made it’s way to Africa:

Kilimanjaro Porter with Eskimo Joe's Shirt

When I complimented him on it, he simply gave me the thumbs up, but smiled as large as Joe himself.

  • Kilimanjaro 2010

  • Subscribe to My Feeds

    Subscribe to my RSS feed Jason's Twitter

  • Friends’ Adventures