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Kibo – The Huts in the Desert

Kibo – The Huts in the Desert
 
 

THE FRIGID cocoon of fog obscured our brief walk to the stone hut with corrugated iron roofing. It was the largest of several huts in the area. Above the hut were the toilets, which I noted. The upper side of the hut was set into the hill possibly as an attempt to insulate it. It must have been very challenging excavating and building this hut in such thin air.

Inside Kibo Hut
Inside Kibo Hut

A long wooden corridor met us inside the bitterly cold hut. The floor was solid concrete slab and the walls were dark timber. Along the walls were doors into the bunk rooms. They all had large bolts on them to keep them closed and locked when the occupants were up the mountain on their summit attempts.

We walked all the way down to the end and entered the last bunk room to the right. It had bunks all around with a wooden picnic table in the middle. The inside walls were all warm coloured timber and the outside walls were all white washed brick.

I set up in the lower bunk at the far right hand corner and everyone else set up their bunks. It was absolutely freezing in here. The one thousand metre altitude difference from Horombo to here made for a huge temperature drop. Although this should be the warmest part of the day, it must have been below freezing here. I wished the sun would come out to heat it up a bit, but that wasn’t going to happen today.

The bunkroom
The bunkroom

There were already four people in the bunkroom beside our group. They were all Japanese people. They all looked pretty young, but one of them was already in bed with a very severe hacking cough. None of us said anything but it was obvious we all thought he should even attempt to climb the mountain tonight, but his fellow travellers said he has already climbed to the summit Mount Fuji twice. Well that didn’t count as we were almost a kilometre higher than Mount Fuji, and the summit was another twelve hundred metres above us.

I hoped he wasn’t going to keep us awake tonight. If we ever needed a good sleep, it will have to be this evening as tomorrow was going to be a very long day indeed.

Tents at Kibo
Tents at Kibo

Our porters came in and gave us a quick afternoon tea. It was nice to get some hot tea. Being at over four thousand metres above sea level now, I felt obliged to have four sugars. That certainly gave me a buzz, but it also gave me the urge to use the toilet, so I put on my woolly hat and staggered out of the hut and up to the toilets.

There were two lots of toilets segregated by a green corrugated iron fence. Down the bottom were three tourist toilets, and at the top were two porter toilets. I didn’t know which ones would be better, but obviously I took the tourist ones.

Toilets at Kibo
Toilets at Kibo

Each toilet was a single cubicle, which I closed the door for privacy. The toilet room was tiled over the floor and up the walls to the ceiling. On the floor was a hole with a squat toilet nicely installed with a lot more craftsmanship than the last toilet I had seen. It certainly wasn’t gross like the one I had used at Jiwe La Ukoyo.

As I returned to the hut, the sun suddenly came out. This was the first sun I had seen since the low pass just above Zebra Cliffs. The sun was very bright and the sky a deep blue. Unfortunately the crisp wind was so cold that the sun did little to heat the air.

Kibo Hut set into the mountain
Kibo Hut set into the mountain

I returned inside just in time for dinner. Fortunately it was quite dark inside the hut, so I could start jet lagging and acclimatising myself for the night. We started off with a warm yellow vegetable soup with which I took another two gingko biloba tablets. I had taken two during breakfast and two at lunch, so hopefully they will keep me going. I pocketed another two in my anorak to have with breakfast before attempting the summit tonight.

We were then given a large plate of spaghetti bolognaise. That will give us heaps of protein and carbohydrate to digest. I also had some more of Dawn’s magnesium.

Soup and gingko biloba pills
Soup and gingko biloba pills

Once dinner was finished, we all went off to bed. The sun had gone behind the mountain and the temperature was plummeting. I quickly changed into my thermal long Lukes and put my thermal ski trousers on over top. I then put on a fresh thermal top, a tee shirt, and my polar fleece top. Then I put on a fresh set of woollen socks. Normally all of that would not be good bed wear, but it was so cold that I would have to wear it all of it just to stay alive tonight.

I then checked my daypack putting my two SLR cameras in it to make sure it would be fine. Then I got my anorak and put in one of the pockets my two gingko biloba pills. I found my little bottle of nausea pills. I had remembered that I really needed them for the final ascents of Mount Kinabalu, and to a lesser extent, Dead Woman Pass on the Inca Trail. On both of those trips I had misplaced the bottle of tablets. This time I definitely did not want to forget them. I also got my small camera and put it in the same pocket.

Spaghetti bolognaise for dinner
Spaghetti bolognaise for dinner

In the other pocket I put a couple of mars bars that I had bought at the shop at the Marangu Hotel. Amazingly I hadn’t eaten them yet. No doubt I will need them for the summit attempt.

Finally there was my water bottle. Jaseri had filled it during dinner time. I placed my anorak over my day pack and my water bottle on top of that, hoping it wouldn’t freeze in the bunk room. Then I put it under the anorak to reduce the chances of the water freezing.

Now I was ready for the summit attempt in a few hours time. I crawled into my cold sleeping bag to get as much sleep as possible.

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Latitude: Longitude: Altitude:

16 August 2011

 

Mount Kilimanjaro

Tanzania

 

3°04'53"S
37°23'20"E
4700m ASL

 

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