4.5 hours walking. 10.91km (6.78 miles) Final elevation 3016m (9896 ft) total gain 1122m (4689 feet).
Day one has been surprisingly easy. I’d expected (and would have been happy) to have gone another two or three hours. My climbing partner is a good guy named Imed, a model agent from New York City. He’s a few years older than I am, but we’re both in better than average shape for this mountain. We kept up a fairly fast pace despite being told by the porters and guides to slow down constantly. The Swahili word for slowly is pole, pronounced “POL-ee”, and we’re hearing it all together too much. I’ve been told that the people who have the worst time adjusting to the altitude are those who try to take the mountain too quickly, but I don’t think we’re going nearly fast enough to worry about that particular scenario.
We did slow down naturally as the altitude increased, so there seems to be a built in speed regulator to this mountain…as the oxygen decreases so does your speed! I’m feeling pretty good about this elevation though. At the South Pole, we’re nearly always at least a good thousand feet higher than we are today.
One thing that I haven’t gotten used to is the fact that we’ve got people to do just about everything for us. Besides our porters and guides, we’ve got an entire camp crew doing everything for us, from erecting and taking down our tents to having hot water waiting for us when we arrive in camp so we can have a cup of tea. I’m quite used to doing my share of camp chores and am feeling a bit decadent being waited on like this.
Today’s hike was beautiful. The first 10 kilometers went thru heavy rain forest. It was very humid with the occasional rain shower, but nothing too bad. The temperature was really pleasant, perfect short and t-shirt weather. I’m a bit concerned about a spot on my right ankle that could become a blister, but tightening up my laces seems to have solved the problem for now. I am glad that I brought my Tevas to wear in camp though.
The summit has been clouded over except for about a minutes visibility on the drive from our hotel to the trail head, and then again in camp itself. Looking up at it, it doesn’t seem another 10,000 feet above us!