This day was probably the hardest in terms of tiredness – sleeping on pretty much the floor for the past 3 nights and walking almost nonstop for the previous 3 days, in the heat, had really stared to take its toll. The first part of the day was really positive. We knew today’s part of the climb was shorter than previous ones as the guides wanted to get us to camp, fed and early to bed in preparation for our midnight climb to the summit.
I’ll be totally honest, although some bits were steep, I quite enjoyed the morning walk – I chatted to a few people that I hadn’t spoken too much and it was nice to be so close to the end of the challenge. I think I had almost brain-washed myself in to believing that the hardest part was over and now it was just a case of getting to the top, taking a photo and coming back down to a nice hot shower. Ha! How wrong I was.
Day four started with scaling the Barranco Wall. This was the part of the climb that everyone had been going on about as it was infamous. I was a bit nervous, but I have to say it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. We climbed pretty much as a whole group and although you had to watch your footing – and there was definitely a bit when there wasn’t a single part of me actually touching land – thank god the guide didn’t let go that’s all I can say! Reaching the top was great for morale and we continued the rest of the way up and down the hills of the mountain in good spirits (even when a couple of us slipped and landed on our ass’)
Stopping for lunch was a nice welcomed break and we all couldn’t believe our luck when we realise that not only were we a million miles above the clouds, but we would be eating chicken and chips at such high altitude. I literally devoured mine in about 5 mouthfuls – it was the first time I had felt properly hungry and really enjoyed the meal. I don’t even like tomato sauce, but hand me the bottle, these bad boys were getting salted and sauced and I didn’t even care.
Problem was, after lunch, it was a pretty steep climb to our camp. Certainly not the most ridiculous of all the climbs to date, but not what you wanted after what felt like a good hearty meal. Hmm maybe the ketchup hadn’t been such a good idea after all.
Taking it pole-pole (slowly-slowly) myself and a couple of the others made it to what we thought was the top and the ground started to flatten out. A few miles later though, one final hurdle…a mahousive bloody hill, (well by that point, for me it felt like another mountain in itself.) Taking it slow myself and another of the girls in the group finally made it to the top, with the help of our guide, and boy was I glad to see my tent and tent buddy.
Chatting in the tent before dinner, I could feel the nerves building. We had all come so far now; the end was literally in sight. But feeling as crap as I did, I knew this last part of the climb was going to be the hardest.
It got cold pretty quick, so we layered up and went for dinner. No one really ate much; all our appetites had gone. 8pm came and we all settled down in our tents to grab what little sleep we could before the guides woke us up again. I felt sick, partly because I was definitely feeling ill and partly because I was so nervous. I did fall asleep surprising quickly though, once id gotten over how bloody cold it was. Typically though, after what felt like minutes, the sound of the guides waking each of the tents up came, and there it was, the moment we had all been waiting for…summit night was here… OH GOD.