After a liesurely departure from camp we made our way from Karanga to Base Camp under pleasant temperatures. The short, 4-hour hike consisted of a steady march up a boulder-strewn slope, down one valley and then up the other side to camp. Base Camp is a motley collection of tents scattered among lava boulders on a steeply-sloped ridge. While it is reasonably sheltered from the wind, it is generally crowded, especially at midday with the crossover of trekkers preparing to ascend later that night and those who have descended from the summit that morning and are now resting up before continuing further down the mountain.
With flat space on Barafu’s narrow ridge at a premium, we had to wait for a group to leave before our porters could set up our tents in the spot they vacated. We took advantage of the pleasant afternoon temperatures to relax outside of our tents, and we passed our time congratulating the hikers who had made it to Uhuru Peak earlier that morning and were now on their way down. On the whole, they appeared to be more exhausted than elated, which was a bit unnerving. We decided not to press them for too much information about the trail ahead—with our summit attempt less than twelve hours away, we adopted the philosophy that ignorance is bliss and tried as hard as we could to dismiss the pained expressions we saw plastered on so many of their faces.
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Before dinner, we did a little packing to prepare for the summit attempt.
Now begins the long wait before our midnight departure…