We finally set out to climb the mountain thats been peering over us for days now. Bizarely we all opted for the longer but more scenic route called the mesilau track. We had a mammoth breakfast before we set of. The first 1km was really difficult, steep uphill up uneven steps which we difficult to negotiate. After that i settled into my pace and it became slightly easier. we found our rhythm seemed to match that of the two doctors on the tour so we stuck with them and chatted our was up to take our minds off the task ahead.
We were stuck in thick cloud for the whole of the climb on day one, so the views would remain unrevealed until tomorrow. Each 1/2km was marked by a rest area and it was just a case of clocking these off one by one although some of them took a long time coming. We completed that days walking to the lodge in 6hrs, which was a pretty respectable time. then it was time to eat and rest before the 2.00am start the next day. Cue the UNO championships.
The alarms were ringing at 2.00am. Today we would need our warm clothing. At this altitude it is pretty cold. We set out with our headtorches. We only had 3kms to climb but at this hight the eefects of altitude were really kicking in and the air was thin. Going got much tougher too. We were now climbing on sheer Granite slabs, with only a rope to aid us. I seemed to find my strength in the later stages and in fact Tom and I were the first of our tour group to the top. As word spread we found out that only 5 of the 12 of us had made it to the summit. (The others were ok, they just got altitude sickness)
As soon as we stopped moving the cold hit us, but as soon as the sun rose it warmed up. As you'll see from the photos we were on top of the world, way above the clouds and the view was staggering. We took it in for a while before fighting the Japanese tourists for a picture with 'the' sign. Then everyhing we had done over the last 2 days, had to be done backwards in a matter of hours. For me that was the hardest part - down steps for 5 hours. My knees were killing. Tom and I looked like a couple of pensioners by the end. Tom hobbling with one stick, me with two. It was comical and we cursed every minute of it. Its only now that we can enjoy the achievement.