. We finally set off at 1.45pm after the staff had done all the paperwork and found us a guide etc. The climb can take anything between 3 and 6 hours and we had to be up before it got dark so we had a bit of a time constraint! So off we went.
The climbing was all steps. Apart from literally one or two slopes, it was big steep steps the whole way. The first half was not so bad, it was really tiring and I kept having to take breaks but at this stage the rest of the group went on ahead, leaving me and Rebecca, who was having trouble with her knees, bringing up the rear with the guide. It got colder and colder the further we went and nearing the top the protection of the trees disappeared and we were subjected to a brutel freezing wind as well as the beginnings of rain. We were resting every few steps by this stage and by the time we got to 500m to go, I actually thought I wasn't going to make it, I thought I was going to have to lie down and admit defeat and die of exposure! We kept on going though, 300m to go, 200m to go, a hundred metres isn't far but when it's up a mountain it's such a long way! We finally made it at 5.45pm, 4 hours after leaving which was a pretty decent time. The temp at the top was 6C although the wind chill would have made it much colder, I've never been so cold on my whole trip! After a swift dinner when I was shaking with cold and my lips were blue, we all went to bed at 7pm, being so cold there was nothing else to do
! The lodge (the expensive one which had heating - which didn't come on til the middle of the night!) only provided one blanket so I hired a sleeping bag and went to bed with all my clothes on, baseball cap included! Rebecca and I had already said that we weren't going to the summit, there was no way we would make it but the others all got up at 3am only to be told that they couldn't go, the weather was too bad. And it did sound pretty bad too, not that I got out of bed to check, howling wind and battering rain. So everyone went back to bed, all disappointed apart from me! Next morning we had breakfast and set off back down. 6 people eventually talked a guide into taking them to the summit then, so they set off in the morning and did make it. Walking down was so much easier, still not pleasant going down steps as it's hard on the knees but doesn't get you out of breath so no stopping required and we were down in 3 hours. Tick!
Next stop - Poring Hot Springs to rest the poor muscles. A brief overnight visit to the hot springs where we sat for a while in a hot tub then shocked our systems with a dunk in the freezing cold swimming pool! Then dinner and an early night was called for after our mountain climbing exertions!
We had heard you had to book to climb, and we had also heard you could just turn up. So just turn up we did. How it works is you climb to a height of 3200m on the first day and stay the night at a lodge there, then get up at 2.30/3am and climb the remainder of the 4100m height then climb all the way back down that same day. We arrived at 9.30am to be told that the accomodation up the mountain was full for tonight and tomorrow. And if it's full they don't give you a permit as they won't allow people to camp or sleep on the floor! We were told there was a chance of a cancellation so we hung around. The latest recommended leaving time is 11.30am so after that we had pretty much no chance. So just when we were thinking of ditching it, a man appear at 12.15pm and says we can go. There were 5 of us plus a Dutch couple so assuming they would share a bed so we could fit into the magically available dorm for 6 we were going. We all started rushing around getting our stuff ready, promising we would be ready to leave in 20 minutes, which we were