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Treeman’s journey to Kibo Hut despite the challenges

27 June, 2020 05:06:26
Treeman’s journey to Kibo Hut despite the challenges

There are two bifurcating footways from the wall that lead to Kibo Hut. Two porters who were walking in front of me signalled me to take the route on the right as it would be easier to maneuver on bicycle. I said ‘Asante’ (‘Thank you’ in Swahili) and proceeded.  I paddled my cycle, but I could feel the strain as I rode. After a while, I realised the route gaining height vertically. After some time, 100 meters from the spot I was, I could spot a couple of small green huts. There was a round concrete signboard atop a pair of concrete poles with something inscribed on it. This would be something like the name of the place I guessed because I could not read the written words from such a distance. 

By now I was panting like a dog and could not continue any more on my bicycle. I got off and dragged the cycle for 100 meters for the last leg of the journey to reach Kibo Hut.  By the time I reached the signboard, it was 1.05 pm, Tanzania local time, on my wristwatch. I could not see any-one in the vicinity. There were a couple of tents nearby on my left side. Their flaps fluttered wildly in the sharp wind.  A little ahead was a long concrete room and a couple of porters sat there resting.  They were all having tea. I turned around but could not see Bruno or Jackson or any of my other companions.  I could not spot any other climber on the way. Was I the first one to make it to Kibo Hut today, I wondered.  

I would now have to wait for Bruno. I sat behind a boulder and finished my lunch pack. I peered below and saw my cook Martin dragging Bruno’s bicycle with the broken chain. He was carrying a huge backpack and an umbrella. He greeted me with a broad smile and addressed me as ‘Com-mander.’ Bruno and Jackson followed him. They reached 45 minutes after I had been there. We clicked a few photographs. Bruno spoke to the warden and completed my formalities. We were al-lotted a room after the entries were made. There were four cots and there were eight beds in Room No. 3. As soon as I dislodged my rucksack, Martin entered with a cup of steaming coffee. I thanked him and he reciprocated with ‘Karibu’ meaning ‘You are welcome.’

Bruno came and we had an elaborate discussion on our next course of action. We were asked to complete dinner by 5 pm and hit our shacks. We would have to wake up at 11 pm and after a light snacking, our march to the summit would begin. Bruno checked my garments and advised me to pick up the ones I would need on this trek. During our conversation, Jackson and Martin entered with a huge quantity of food. This was to be our lunch, they announced but the amount was enough to see us through for a couple of days. I nibbled a little and then requested Martin to give me a large bowl of salad. Soon, a couple entered our room. The gentleman was from Cape Town in South Af-rica and his companion was from Sweden. They met during the expedition and now they were in a relationship. I was wonderstruck to witness how easily bonding forms!

At around 4 pm, my Japanese friend Kiyoto finally arrived.  He looked quite unwell and wanted to go off to sleep immediately.  I advised him to stroll outside the camp for some time. I too, decided to venture out. By then the Indian team had reached Kibo Hut. There was a young girl in the group and she started throwing up immediately after arrival. I asked her and found that she had not eaten anything since morning and had consumed very little water as well. She had a terrible headache. A doctor attached to the camp was summoned. He checked her oxygen level and found it below 50. This was a symptom of altitude sickness. She was given medication to get over her discomfort. 

Bruno would not be able to take his bicycle for the trek and  he decided to station it at Kibu Hut but then we would require the bicycle on our way down and it would be too much of effort to drag it all the way to the foothill. So we struggled hard for a long time and finally succeeded in fixing the chain. I did a routine check- up of my Chetak and then strolled within the camp site. Gradually the other climbers trickled in. Jackson got our dinner sharp at 5 pm. It was a sumptuous spread. It was getting windy by the minute and freezing outside. After dinner, at 5.30 pm, I slid in my sleeping bag. I was too excited to sleep but still set the alarm for 11 o’ clock at night. 

Story Tag:
  • Sports in Bengal, Cyclist Ujjwal Pal

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