Kilimanjaro Diary days 4 & 5
Our ascent of the mountain was scheduled to take 7 days - and just one and a half descending. Some climbers do the ascent in 4 days, but they don't have as good a success rate - the rapid ascent does not give them enough time to acclimatise to the altitude. In the event we all made it to the summit.
Shira Cathedral 13 Oct 2000
After that first camp the going got tougher - we left the luxurious forest behind and the surroundings became more barren - like a lunar landscape. The nights became colder, but as soon as the sun came up after dawn it would warm us to a comfortable level. Our first good view of the mountain came as we trekked across Shira Plateau - part of one of the three volcanic craters of Kilimanjaro.
A memorable experience here was a climb up Shira Cathedral (3959m), a narrow ridge which fell away steeply several thousand feet on one side. You wouldn't want to stumble - especially as we had just passed a memorial to a climber who had died 2 weeks before.

Lava Tower camp, 14 Oct 2000
Day 5, Saturday 14th October:
"We set off today at 9.15 and it's uphill right from the start. Our trek takes us across a 'desert land' today. Much of it is uphill and through the clouds, and it's tough going. Paul has told us the temperature can reach 40 deg in the daytime, but it's very cloudy and therefore cold.
The first signs of snow begin to appear; Lynne spots some snowflakes falling. This leads to snowball fights and Dave lobs one straight at me and the video camera!
We reach Lava Tower Hut camp around 1.30pm; we've ascended 970 metres today to 4600 metres. It's quite a climb and although I felt fairly breathless I don't have a headache at all."