Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ellen's Summit.

Time stopped when Sarah's crutch broke...a new plan had to be formed. Kerith headed down the mountain to fix Sarah's crutch. We had previously made a pact that whoever could go on would, without guilt. The cold leaves no time for long goodbyes, Susan and I hugged Sarah and started our climb upward.
Surreal does not begin to describe the emotions. Sadness, fatigue, altitude and the physical demands of the climb all came into play. Susan feeling no effects from altitude was climbing strong. The pace was too fast for me, my heart was racing and I was getting short of breath, I needed our 'pole, pole' pace. I was not sure I could summit. Susan reminded me of all the people who we were climbing helped me focus and get back into the trance of climbing. We thought of our patients how each step in the beginning was an effort. As the climb got steeper Susan said “It's all mental Ellen”, I replied, a little unkindly “It's physical too Susan”. Little talk, we were each lost in our thoughts.
Coming to the rocks spared us from the miserable scree however gave us a new challenge. Our guides Simon and Ernest mercifully took our backpacks allowing us to be able to climb over and scramble the rocks. For me it seemed like we would never get there. Almost at the top I felt little energy left. Susan saw climbers at the top, “We are almost there!!”.
Reaching Gillman's Point gave us a sense of elation and surprisingly a burst of energy. We greeted the climbers already there, took a couple photos and looked down below. Almost like looking from an airplane you could see Kenya to your left and Moshi to your right. We were higher than the clouds. A snack of hot tea brought to us by our attentive guides along with digestive biscuits restored us. I ate a package of chocolate energy goo and with Uhuru Peak in sight from our perch at Gilman's, Susan and I started the trek along the ridge.
Finding it a bit easier than the trudge up to Gilman's, fatigue and cold were the current concerns. Looking into the crater to the right and the glaciers to the left, it was glorious!! FINALLY we reached Uhuru Peak!!! Windy, cold but it afforded an amazing view! Genuine hugs of congratulations along with a sense of true joy, we had reached our goal; it was yet another emotional moment.
Quick photos, a few tributes and we were off on our descent. Mostly downward now we were able to appreciate the beauty. Susan and I, with Sarah often in our thoughts, felt 'Team SideStix' finished. Little did we know of Kerith and Sarah's ordeal. We had left Sarah devastated by her broken crutch.
Almost at Gilman's, to our surprise we meet Sosta and Kerith! “No time to talk but Sarah is just around the corner at Gilman's!!” More tears, unbelievable elation...we hurry to see Sarah.
There she sat, on a rock at Gillman's Point. The emotions of the moment cannot be captured in text but is one I and my friends will ever forget.
After hugs, congratulations and a few photos we girls headed down to Kibo Hut.
My best to all,

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