Day 2 - Machame Hut to Shira Hut (3800m)
It is a bitterly cold morning. I think Charles is feeling it a little more than I am because he only has a regular 'run of the mill' sleeping bag. Mine is good to minus 18 degrees so I haven't been too bothered. Thank God sunrise is on the way though. Now we can see the Western Breach without any clouds. Sunrise comes, and with it comes the heat we require. Off come the gloves and balaclavas and big jumpers, it's time for t-shirts again. We head off for Shira camp at 8:30am travelling up steep woodland hills. The climb becomes steep for a couple of hours but we pass the time by singing songs to amuse ourselves.
As always we take our three mouthfuls every 15 minutes - gives us something to look forward to. We stop at a great viewpoint to get a proper picture of Kibo (and to rest) then up we go along another incline. Although the path is in okay condition we require the occasional scramble before we reach the lunch stop at 3600m at the top of a small cliff. We only stop for ten minutes, perhaps we're just a little too eager to keep going. Some people have been sitting down for 30 minutes, some for 45 minutes but we just take off as soon as we've eaten. Probably not the best idea in the world.
Once again Graham takes off at perhaps a faster pace than he should and myself and Charles end up walking faster up the steep incline to Shira than we should, trying to keep up. In a momentary lapse of concentration we forget the pole-pole advice and, although we are walking at a reasonably leisurely pace, our bodies don't quite get a chance to adjust. So when we get to the top of the rocky ridge leadingto Shira I suddenly get a dull pain in my temples. 'Surely not already! The climb up to now was fine but we're nowhere near the top!' We are at about 3900m. We pass through a small exposed valley. In the distance we can see one of the toilet huts of Machame Camp. It seems so far away. It's hard to believe that we have walked so far in one day. All told, we will have covered 60 to 70 kilometres in 6 days of climbing (including the trip down). Onward across a small ridge and into another small valley. There is a sudden gale and clouds shoot past us through this small, narrow gulley. We quickly cross to the other side. We can now see the campsite. Once again, the porters have made it ahead of the travellers to set up camp with extraordinary efficiency. These guys are extremely hard workers and actually seem to enjoy hauling all this gear - that or they just keep a brave face up. Either way, they are always cheerful and pleasant.
We descend to Shira hut at 3840m in altitude and once we sit down my headache fades. I take one paracetamol tablet to help me out. It is quite cool, even at 4pm so I pile on a couple of layers and go for a quick stroll. I find a quiet place off to the west and lie down for a half an hour until my headache clears. It's very peaceful away from the camp. To the west we can now see the Shira Needle, Shira Cathedral and East Shira Hill. To the east, the Western Breach is once again obscured by cloud. However, by sunset it comes into view, as does Mount Meru in the west. We take some photographs of the spectacular views and settle down to dinner at about 5:30pm.
Sunset brings with it a fierce chill so, once again we hit the sack early at around 7:30pm. This time round I'm praying I don't have to get up in the middle of the night as we are told to expect frost. The night at this exposed camp is very cold with the temperature dropping below freezing. My headache is gone but sleeping in the tent becomes quite uncomfortable and difficult, perhaps due to excitement, but almost certainly due to the acclimatisation process.
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The Morning After
Heigh ho! Heigh ho!
A Long Way Above The Clouds
Excellent View Of The Western Breach
The Path Steepens
Charles (guide) And Graham Lead The Way