Climbing of Mt. Namuli Part IV: The Summit (2/2)
This past Wednesday and Thursday myself, my sitemate Sam and our friend Zacaria climbed the second highest peak in Mozambique, Mt. Namuli (2400m). We left the villa of Gurue at about 5 AM on wednesday and after 30 km of trekking arrived at the base of the mountain at about 13:30. We then did a ceremony with the Queen of the Mountain to receive her blessing of safe travels up and down the mountain. After the ceremony we cooked food and did a lot of nothing to try to recover before the effort to reach the summit.
I feel asleep under the stars to the sound of one of the women at the housing “compound” we were at cooking xima for the family dinner at about 18:30 (I was exhausted). We were woken up by our two guides about an hour before sunrise (3 AM) to start the trek to the summit. We reached the summit at around 7 AM after what was definitely the most technical climbing I have ever done without gear. It was an incredibly sheer face at the top and to be brutally honest I was pretty damn scared going up and scared shitless coming down. After we reached the top I was so worried about the descent it was pretty difficult to enjoy the view and the accomplishment but I did my best. The decent of the difficult part took quite some time and cost me my last pair of shorts. I spent most of my time sliding on my bum going from foothold to foothold and handhold to handhold because if I lifted my center of gravity to much I’d start to slide and if I started, there would be no stopping. Fear is never fun, but the emotional release I got when we finally made it out of the technical section was a high I will never forget.
Our two guides of course were incredibly nimble and experienced, spending much more time on their feet than us timid estranjeros. At one point I asked them at what age they first summited; ages 4 and 5! After reaching the base of the mountain after the descent at about 10AM and decided to try to knock out 15 km before we made camp so we could have a short hike back the next day. We ended up getting incredibly lucky as a truck that had picked up the Queen of the Mountain the day before to take her to Gurue was returning her to the mountain and then heading back to Gurue so we got a ride the last 25km to Gurue! We immediately headed to the main restaurant in town for a meio frango and beers.
I love getting out in the matu, the people are much nicer, are far more interesting and it’s wonderful to interact with groups of people that have been living more or less the same basic lifestyle for hundreds if not thousands of years and are incredibly cheerful and inviting. The best example I can offer of their kindness was we needed to get flour as an offering for the Queen of the Mountain but we forgot to pick it up in town. We asked again and again on the trail and eventually found a family that had it after about 3 hours of searching. We asked to purchase it but they said no, they wanted to offer it to us as a gift. On the way back to Gurue we still had a ton of food left over so we offered them the rest of our food as a thank you. Without that flour it’s possible the Queen of the Mountain would not have given us safe passage and that family had a wonderful dinner in return for their initial kindness.
Possibly one of the most dramatic, fulfilling and positive 30 hours I will ever spend on this earth and I can’t wait to get into the backcountry again and explore more of that area.
'Til the next adventure, Eric