Top of the World
Point Lenana Travel Blog› entry 53 of 81 › view all entries
Rising at 7:15 we discovered ice on the tent. Our plastic water bottles were partially frozen and our toes painfully numb. One of the soldiers had become ill prompting the Brits to retreat to the met station. By 8:00, Scott and I were traipsing further up the valley traveling light, toting only our shoulder bags and slushy water bottles.
Teliki Valley terminated three quarters of a mile beyond the camp and our steep climb began. We inched our way up the backside of Shipton Peak through loose black scree. With each three feet trudged upward, we slid back down one or two. The going was dreadfully slow and treacherous in ever-thinning air. A fall there would result in a thousand foot tumbling slide back to the valley floor. Encouraging one another, we struggled on while cursing ourselves between gasping breaths.
We finally reached a ridge-line which yielded more tolerant hiking and led us higher yet along a gray and desolate moon-like landscape to Fermin Hut at 15,750 feet. We rested there awhile munching raisins and chocolate and sipping ice water. Continuing to starve for oxygen, I wondered if we need go further but the rougher the going got, the more determined Scott became - a common trait among the Finns of Upper Michigan.
The ridge lead us to the edge of Lewis Glacier. Its snow and ice radiated cool air which felt refreshing. We persisted upward on hard-packed snow negotiating crevasses and ice caves. An hour from Fermin Hut we approached the steep and stubby, forty or fifty foot-tall rocky outcrop which was Point Lenana.
We inched our way to the top on all fours. Crosses marked the peak, immortalizing previous climbers from all over the world. Scott and I sat there in grinning silence at 16,355 feet above sea level - conquerors of the world. We savored both our triumph and spectacular views. Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest, beckoned gracefully from 200 miles to the south in Tanzania but we laughed assurance that we had just agonized enough mountain climbing for one lifetime. The snow-capped peaks of Batian and Nelion didn't appear so majestic from near eye-level. Point Lenana was our mountain.