I made it up there, but good lord did it ever take everything I had.
On the 6 day trip up Kilimanjaro, there's really only one little chunk of time to speak of. For the first 4 days, we walked about 2 hours a day, and wait at a campsite in an empty field for about 22. Just enough to soften us up. Then, at 5pm on Day 4, we were told to go to bed, because at midnight, we had a 7 hour march through the pitch black freezing cold to look forward to.
I didn't get even a second of sleep. But up we went. My sister had a migrane and dropped out only about 15 minutes in, but I kept going. About an hour in, the altitude sickness was hitting me pretty hard. About 2 hours in,I started being able to take only 3 or 4 steps before needing a breather. Every 2 or 3 brethers, I'd need to sit down. Every 2 or 3 sit downs I'd need to throw up. Then the fainting started.
About 3 hours in, my guide was trying to get me to turn back. All over the mountain are signs that say if you get altitude sickness, turn the hell around. But I let out a wheezy grunt (my throat had closed up, so I couldn't speak) that implied I was gonna make it, and I shuffled ahead. My throat was swollen, my head was spinning, my foot was blistered, my leg muscles were sprained, I had a fever, I was throwing up, and there were periods that I just couldn't move. At one point, I used my last little bit of energy to take a drink of water, and didn't have enough energy to swallow, so I just had to let it dribble out of my mouth.
After about 8 hours, everyone else had already made it up to the first peak, then the second peak, and back down to camp. Some were already packing up to go to their next camp. I was still shuffling. I could see the first peak. It should have taken me minutes to get there. But I could only take a few steps at a time.
I made it to the first peak at 8:30. I was the last one on the mountain. There is another peak that the hardcore people walk to, (it's down a little, across the top, then up a little bit higher) but there's only a short window that you can climb it, because once the sun comes up, the snow starts melting. I would have gotten there around noon.
I had spent the entire week making fun of people who reached the first peak, but didn't go to the second. But now I understood.
I lay there at the peak, having given every ounce of everything I had. Then, said my guide, "It's time to go back down."
I got back to camp at about 1:30pm. I collapsed, only to be told a couple hours later that it was time to walk 3 hours to the next camp.
I am in so much pain right now. But god darned if I didn't climb up that mountain.