Kilimanjaro - Day 2 (Sept. 15, 2005)

Overview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7

Begin hike (8:30 am) at 3100m/10,200 ft.
End hike (2:10 pm) at 3840m/12,600 ft. arriving at Shira Camp
Distance: 6 km

Our first look at Kibo (sideways from the southwest)

The sky was clear in the morning and we got our first glimpse of Kibo - from a westerly sideways profile, complete with glacial cover. Soon it was obscured by clouds in what would be a repeating pattern every morning.  Breakfast was served in the mess tent at 7:30 (eggs, toast, cheese, oat porridge, beverages, papaya). Gil was making enquiries about the Western Breach with serious intent looking to cut short his trip by a day. If he did decide to go that way, he would go his own way halfway through Day 3.

  A common sight on Kilimanjaro - the white-naped raven

The first part of Day 2 featured a steep climb through open moorland with the route proceeding in a northerly direction towards Shira and not making any change in direction towards Kibo. We set off at 8:30 am making sure we put on our gaiters to keep the fine dust away from our socks and shoes. We got lunch packets (boiled egg, sandwich, orange, muffin, potato chips, fruit juice, peanuts) to carry with us to eat half-way, which was at around noon time as we reached the high point of the steep section. Besides being steep, it had several sections that required clambering over boulders and the use of hands. Kibo was in full sight for most of the climb but was mostly covered with clouds so we could barely see some of the glaciers every now and then. The vegetation was mostly moorland with short trees mostly covered with lichen. While approaching Shira plateau, the clouds formed a thick blanket below us over the surrounding plains. Senecia began appearing in abundance on the latter part of the climb often with fog rolling in and obscuring them.

Looking back at Machame camp soon after leaving camp...

...and zooming in for a closer look at the campsite

A closer look at what thrives at 10000 ft.

Kibo about to disappear from view 

Looking straight ahead in the direction we were headed - Shira Needles


Video of surrounding landscape near Shira. 







The following series of pictures were taken on the morning of Day 2 along the was quiet and purposeful. Nothing much was said.

Taking a load off for brief 10 minute rest stops

A look at the steep sections dotted with climbers

White-naped Raven at the top of the steep section - the standard lunch stop

After lunch, the track leveled off but got tougher as the landscape changed to a very rocky desert. Some sections were twisty and windy and required the use of hands to thread our way through the rocks. 

More pictures after the lunch break, on less steep and increasingly rocky terrain...

Maiko, V and Gil make their way through the trail. M has a nice lead over the rest of the group and shot this from a vantage point above. V is clearly struggling and even the mildest down step brings a wince and a curse out of him. Maiko turns around and asks if he is alright. Maiko assumed that V was suffering from altitude sickness, but it was actually something else.






After 5:30 hours of climbing in foggy conditions, we reached the Shira Camp at 2:15 pm. Strong winds were blowing the fine sandy dust everywhere and into our tent too. We did our best to clean the tent floor with tissue paper but gave up after a while. Over the next few days, we would slowly accept the mountain for what it is and forget about our usual restless housekeeping. 

Right from the start of the climb, the trail was covered in fine sandy dust so insidious that it got into every nook, (not sure about crannies) under our fingers, on our clothes and bags and every single pore in our skins. Yet another thing that we slowly learnt to live with and not fuss too much.

Almost at Shira Camp with Shira Needles in the background

Day 2 was much more exhausting than the first day and despite the urge to zip ourselves in our sleeping bags and doze off, we had to stay awake for tea (and popcorn) first and dinner later. The walk from our tent to the mess tent was made more difficult due to the wind and the exhaustion. Each trip out of the tent was a mini expedition as putting on and taking off hiking boots can take a lot more out of you than a few hours of strenuous climbing. We noticed that the pit toilet was a bit too far from the tent and at a different level and required navigation through other groups' tents. M wasn't looking forward to this as she would not be wearing contact lenses at night.

For now, The wind lifted the fog and revealed Kibo directly in front of our tent. The Shira needles were behind us, now much closer and level with our eyes.

Kibo under cloud cover as seen from the tent

Windy but not too cold

Once again, early to sleep at 8 pm. The nightly trips to the toilet were much more challenging on this day than the previous day, requiring alert navigation, not the easiest of things to do when half-asleep, in the cold, in the dark and on a strange, eerie, desert landscape.

V adds: On the top of Shira plateau, I did lose my balance on a couple of occasions while negotiating some of the boulders. This was due to a bout of dizziness caused by BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo), a problem with my ear that I had first experienced earlier this month at home. It had almost led us to canceling the trip, but I learnt to deal with the condition and felt confident enough to go ahead. While I did not experience the nauseating sensation of everything spinning around, the tricky boulder sections did test me and I am glad that I was able to cope. Maiko thought that this was altitude sickness and I did not think I needed to correct this impression. I did have my work cut out for me in the form Epley's exercises that I religiously did twice a day for the rest of the trek.

M adds: The pit toilet is a little too far from the tent and going up to it is a bit exhausting. Due to the Diamox I had to make a few more trips than I would have like to. In the moonlight, sure, but without my contact lenses, it is not much of a help. Hoping that our subsequent locations are more comfortable. On the top of Shira plateau, V revealed that he had some symptoms of BPPV mostly when scrambling over boulders. At one point he lost his footing, causing a mini scramble to safety. This affected his confidence somewhat and the rest of the climb was at a slower pace than usual. Hopefully he feels better tomorrow. He has been faithfully doing the Epley routine in the tent, so hope that helps.

Overview Day 1 Day 2 Day 3 Day 4 Day 5 Day 6 Day 7