Mount Kilimanjaro, Day 6.5: Millenium Camp (3950m)

The Descent

I separated day 6 into ascent and descent. I knew that no one would read it if I put it at the end of the last post about the monumental moment of summiting (I wouldn’t either).

When we were told that the 7 hours it took us to get to the top could be done in 1.5-2 hours on the way down, I thought I was being lied to. I was also told that we could go straight down instead of taking the switchbacks, because of the loose stone “scree.” In reality, it turned out to be totally true. I’m not sure what inspired me, but going down was SO FUN! For the first 2/3 of the way down from the peak, we were really skiing on these loose rocks. After what were probably 15” steps on the way up, going back down speedily was incredibly fun. I was also very much looking forward to sleeping in the tent when I arrived. When we got close to the bottom I was able to see Barafu camp from above, and it’s so striking. The landscape is barren and it’s believable that the winds would be strong and cold at that elevation.

Barafu from above

At camp, I wasn’t able to sleep because now with the sun beating down, my tent became an oven that was more likely to cook me than offer me rest. So I organized me things, sat around, and peeled off the 3 layers of pants which kept me warm on the way up and became saturated with perspiration on the way down. Even at 15,000 feet the air was noticeably thicker than it had been at the top. After lunch we took the few hour hike to Millenium Camp. It’s not allowed to stay at the higher elevation for multiple nights because of the increased risk of altitude sickness, and I also suspect there would be an issue of space if capacity increased from groups staying multiple nights. It was a bit of a slog because we were tired and head already had a long day, but the views were beautiful. A lot of green was already coming back, as you'll see in the pictures below. It was a short evening once we got to camp, as we all just wanted sleep. Spending the night at 3950m felt like we were breathing easily in comparison to earlier.

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