31/12/04 New Years Eve
Managed to get a few hours sleep but we were up at 7 a.m.. and had breakfasted and packed by 8:30. I was cloudy but warm and when the sun came through it was very hot and intense. Put on lots of sun cream. We walked along the route we had already gone along the day before . There were lots of small plants (thigh high) including Rosmarin and many small boulders (see picture to left). Shortly before we reached Lava Tower we came across our first snow on the gently sloping trail (above and left - note left there seems to be some disagreement on which direction to go - rule of thumb is; if in doubt always up).
Lava Tower at 4700 metres is a very impressive volcanic rock tower approximately 30 metres high.. From here we had a view towards Arrow glacier and the Western Breach. This is the route we would like to take to the summit starting from the Arrow hut campsite (4900m) to Uhuru Peak (5886m). It would depend on the weather. If it were to rain/snow this New Years Eve the route would be to difficult and dangerous. At Lava Tower it is 2.5 km to Uhuru Peak.
After eating our packed lunch of chicken, vegetable samosa, boiled egg, cake (did not eat this), + drink we descended in rain to Barranco camp at 3950 metres. The route down was alpine over rocks with lots of Senecia and Lopelia plants and trees.
By the time we reached the camp it had thankfully stopped raining. If it doesn't rain/snow tonight we will go back passed Lava Tower to Arrow Hut camp site. It will be a long hard slog and we will need to gain approximately 850 metres.
left Lava Tower, above view towards the Western Breach.
At 16:00 I can hear thunder in the distance so the signs are not good. Get a slight headache when walking about but otherwise feel ok. Knees held out fine during the descent to Barranco - and we went fast - so I am pleased. Thunder is getting louder (= closer!).
Had supper at 17:00 and then took a walk around the large camp site . Saw from a higher vantage point that there is cloud and lightening below us. Maybe we'll be lucky with the rain.
We made plans to wake at 23:45 to seen the new year in.
Which is what we did. Dieter, Sigi Ludwig, Joe and Gideon saw in the new year with Whiskey, fruit Schnapps, Cognac and home made biscuits (made by Joe's mother). Still overcast but patches of clear sky as well. No sign of rain.
Left seeing in the new year. Bottom left view to the summit from Barranco camp, bottom right Dieter (left) Sigi (middle) and Joe (right) having afternoon tea/coffee.