Hal Streckert Kilimanjaro Adventure

ISBN 13: 9780966812350

Kilimanjaro Adventure

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9780966812350: Kilimanjaro Adventure
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This book is a fascinating personal account of climbing the highest mountain on the African continent as a family. The struggle and decision process to start organizing a trip to the depths of Africa are revealed. Meeting up with other climbers and trekking the lower flanks of the mountain is detailed. The difficulty of reaching the crater rim and continuing to the summit in the thin atmosphere is vividly described. At different phases of the climb, the thoughts and feelings of the various family members are exposed. After the strenuous climb, there is time to relax and enjoy the untamed nature on a safari to one of the big game parks. A wealth of information on the climbing routes, equipment, contacts, climate, history is contained in the appendixes. All the information required to organize your own expedition step by step is provided in a concise and easy to use format.

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About the Author:

The author has over 12 years of mountaineering experience. He has climbed over 200 peaks in the Sierra Nevada and Cascade Mountains of California, Arizona, Mexico, Alps (Europe), Cordillera (South America), and Africa. He has published over 30 articles and authored or co-authored 4 books.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One. It was shortly after midnight and freezing cold in the stone hut, when our guide, Fred, yanked us from our peaceful slumber. By the time Diane, Kyle, and I got dressed and forced down some breakfast, most of the other climbers were already ascending the steep slope toward the crater rim. We rushed onto the trail, which was lit up by bright moonlight. We set a steady pace and in short order passed the other groups of climbers and progressed to the front of the line.

The trail meandered up the barren, steep face of the crater pyramid. Our hiking boots dug into firm ground until we traversed the notorious switchbacks above the Hans Meyer cave. There we encountered wide swatches of loose sand and scree, and we would slip and slide down more than we proceeded up. It seemed like we were taking two steps forward and three back. It was a breath-robbing way to climb in the thin air and the darkness of the night. My lungs were pumping like a two-stroke engine trying to suck in enough air to supply my tired muscles with much needed oxygen. The scree field kept punishing us and did not seem to want to end.

We had been climbing for several hours and feeling the effects of the steep slope and the rarefied atmosphere. Diane was behind me and I overheard her asking Fred, "Is this scree field ever going to end, or does it go on forever?" He chuckled, "You doing great. Not too much longer." Then she fell back into an almost trance-like state and continued to thrust one foot in front of the other.

Plodding along in the still of the night I was in a similar trance, concentrating on taking one step at a time. In this state of mind it occurred to me that living in the city, with cushy office jobs, we spend a great deal of time and effort keeping our bodies in a narrow "comfort zone." We let our bodies dictate to us. We eat when we're hungry. We go to sleep when we're tired. We have coffee to keep us awake. We don't let the climate control in our cars or houses vary more than a few degrees from a pre-set temperature.

All this is different in the mountains. When you go high in the mountains, it becomes obvious that your body doesn't want to be there. The higher you go, the more it rebels. The air is too thin to breathe and supply the muscles with enough oxygen for proper movement. The food tastes bad and is difficult to digest. Headaches and light-headedness develop caused by lack of oxygen. The symptoms get worse with altitude, including leakage of fluids into the lungs and swelling of the brain.

If you listened to your body, you'd never go higher. This is where the mind comes in and forces the body to continue. It's almost pure willpower that gets you to the top of big mountains. It is definitely mind over matter. You have to push your body out of the comfort zone and force it to cooperate, even if it hurts and tells you to stop. The mountain thrusts out a challenge and it's extremely satisfying to accept it and to win.

The angle of ascent increased to a debilitating forty degrees and the ground was as loose and slippery as a big pile of ice cubes. The trail snaked through a field of massive boulders, which occasionally rocket down the crater pyramid, smashing anything and anybody in their path. Kyle was becoming exhausted. His legs were starting to feel wobbly and it became hard for him to stand, much less climb up the slippery scree. He looked ahead and saw me slip on the loose scree and slide into the volcanic sand.

I had no trouble catching my balance, but Kyle glanced down the mountain. Even in the moonlight, he could tell that the slope quickly dropped away. It was a scary thought and he felt a slight faintness imagining a fall down the steep slope. He decided it was better not to look down. I noticed that he set his sights on climbing up and ignored the negative thoughts of tumbling down the mountain. Then he wondered out loud, "If we don't reach the crater rim soon, I won't be able to go much further."

And after what seemed like too many hours, we fought the last difficult steps up the infamous scree field and, suddenly, we were standing on the crater rim of the dormant volcano. In front of us was a large plateau covered with ice and snow that shimmered in the bright moonlight. We gazed in awe at the snows of Kilimanjaro, made famous by Ernest Hemingway in his gripping short story. It was a beautiful winter wonderland, amazingly not on the North Pole, but on the equator.

We continued hiking along the exposed crater rim, desperately trying to suck enough air into our freezing lungs to propel our tired legs upward to the summit. The wind was ripping across the rocky terrain causing a ferocious wind chill and I had to bury my face deep inside the hood of my jacket. Kyle, exhausted, was relieved to be on level ground. He quickly got a second wind and was able to continue at a strong pace. "Be careful that you don't burn out before we reach the summit," I warned. He pretended not to hear me.

We skirted past tall glaciers, which made their presence known with eerie creaking and groaning noises. The trail was mostly clear of snow and ice due to the volcanic heat conducted through vents from deep within the interior of the earth. The trail was clear until we walked into a field of sharp, wind-swept pinnacles of ice, which resembled giant inverted shark's teeth. They were waist high and shattered as we plodded through them in our rigid hiking boots.

The air was so devoid of oxygen, we had to stop again and again and take five or six deep breaths before continuing. We had traveled halfway around the world to get to this mountain. We had been hiking and climbing for over four days and now were finally approaching the ultimate goal of this long, arduous trek(the summit of Kilimanjaro.

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