We woke up at 2:15am to a tin cup of strong thick java coffee and a banana pancake. It was pitch black except for the spotlight from my headlamp and spotlights of those in front of us.
The next few hours were up there with the some of the toughest mental and physical challenges I have experienced to date.
There were three distinct sections of the trek, each more challenging than the last and would cover the remaining 1800m to the peak. The first section was sandy and rocky, like a treadmill of quicksand. Next up the ground was mercifully solid but steep and long.
It was the final section however, that really tested my limits. I found myself marching in the dark on a steep incline of loose shale with blackness on my left and right following the light beaming from my headlamp racing the sunrise to the summit. The 60 degree incline combined with shale was a frustratingly slow two steps forward one and a half back. It was relentless especially knowing that the only way to the top was half an agonizing step at a time. At the summit - 3726m above sea level - it was euphoria, a combination of visual bliss of being on top of the world, satisfaction of achievement and deep physical pain.