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The Wilderness Society

Sumitting Tanzania’s Mt Meru

Written by: Simon OChen

I can’t feel my toes. I clench my teeth. Layered with two pairs of socks, shorts, long pants, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a thermal shirt, a waterproof fleece jacket, a neck warmer, a beanie and a pair of thermal gloves lacking in the thermal department, I am waiting near the top of Mt Meru, 4,561 metres above Arusha National Park, for the sun to thaw out the icicles.

mt-meru-sunrise

I am an hour early for the sun and just have to wait, sitting on stone-cold rocks, hands shoved deep into my pockets, chin tucked in, hiding away from the cutting breeze.

Below me a couple appears, their flashlights bobbing through the bluish light of the ¾ moon that had escorted us for the last one thousand metres from Saddle Hut.

I had hiked for three days passing buffalo, zebra, warthog and giraffe. For our protection, an obligatory armed ranger led us up the mountain. Up through shady forests. Up through a big-enough-for-a-car-to-drive-through arched base of a giant fig tree, climbing higher into painfully fresh air. I had spent 4½ zigzagging hours of trudging higher, past Spanish moss hanging down from the branches of tall, skinny trees, resembling Colobus monkey tails, until I reached Saddle Hut.

mount-meru mt-meru

After lunch I rested for my afternoon ascent of Little Meru, a half-hour climb to the 3,800 meter peak. And at 2am I began the gruelling five-hour, 5-kilometre summit of Big Meru’s peak along a a rim-hugging track hidden in the clouds.

little-meru

Traversing the last five metres, light-headed from the lack of oxygen, I staggered over the rocks as a deep blood-orange coloured in the horizon, silhouetting Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain (and the world’s highest free-standing mountain at 5,895 meters), a third of its peak covered with snow.

tanzania-sunrise mount-meru-sunrise kilimanjaro mt-meru-tanzania mount-meru-tanzania

A cliff-edge dropped towards Ash Crater, an almost perfect cylindrical cone rising from Meru’s demolished crater, caused by its last explosion in 1910, bringing an end to its volcanic life.

mt-meru-crater

The sun tinted Kilimanjaro with a warm golden light; a warmth that was taking far too long to reach us. Behind us, Meru cast a long, dark, perfect triangular shadow across the Great Rift Valley and the low-lying clouds covering the earth.

mt-meru-views-tanzania mt-meru-views

It took three days to climb uphill to reach the peak of this majestic rock.

Now to do it all downhill – in just one day.

Leupold

The whole 'life is too short' cliche is real and I'm out to take advantage of it. I don't like money and I have no aspiration to be financially wealthy so I'm bartering and hitch-hiking my way around the world, offering any help needed, writing articles and guitar-gigging for food and lodgings as well as volunteering with wildlife\marine conservation organisations where I can to raise vital awareness. Life is one shot. No more. No less. Go live it. Follow my journey on Facebook or on my website.

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