Kilimanjaro Attempt Getting Close
Hiking up Mt. Kilimanjaro, I’m not completely sure what I was thinking when I signed up, but there’s no turning back now. With preparations finalized we brought our fearless guide Victor out to camp to discuss all of the details of the hike. Victor did a great job making it sound easier than it is going to be, “day three we’ll go up a bit and down a bit, day four we’ll go up a bit more and down a bit…” The math just doesn’t compute. His “up a little” has to add up to 19,341 feet above sea level over 6 days. Victor is one of those guys that when you meet them you instantly feel a connection though, so I trust him and am more excited than ever. Just 44 days from today we will take our first steps up that enormous hill called Mt. Kilimanjaro that sits just 35 miles south of where I sit typing this.
Here’s the plan that Victor made so eloquently sound easy. Day 1, drive to Lemosha Glades in Kilimanjaro National Park to meet the crew and start the hike. Hike for a few hours (3-4 hours) through a beautiful forest to the first camp. Alright, day one sounds relatively easy but I’m taking nothing for granted. Day 2, we hike for 6-7 hours through Montane Forest and the Gagenia tree zone. Here we should have an opportunity to see some game and bird life. All together climbing over 2,300 feet to an altitude of 11,300 feet at Shira Plateau Camp. Day 3 will take us on a gentle 5-6 hour hike across the Shira Plateau and onto the western slope of the Kibo Massif, this night will be in the upper health zone at Moir hut camp at 13,500 feet. Day 4 actually takes us on a 5-6 hour hike passing Lava Tower, up an over the Western Breach and Great Barranco Wall, only to descend back down to 13,120 feet at Barranco Camp. This is a big acclimation day where we will hike high and sleep low. I’m guessing this day is where you have to start digging deep if you really want to make it to the summit. Day 5 is a bigger day, hiking 7-8 hours and up hill most of the time. We’ll climb up a steep ridge, which bisects the great Barranco Wall in Karanga Valley. The view from this camp is supposedly amazing, something we’ll have to keep in mind while pushing our bodies up above 15,000 feet. This night will be spent about an hour above Barafu Hut Camp, Victor said that staying a bit higher on the mountain gives us a better summit day and the opportunity to descend into the crater at the top if we have the energy. Day 6 is the big show, this day starts before sunrise, likely on little real sleep, today is the day to push to the top. If we make it to the top with any energy left, we’ll take the typical shots at the top and then descend into the crater to see the Furtwangler glacier and the ash pit. This excursion will add about 2.5 hours to our summit trek but it would be awesome to see. From there we hike our asses down to a paltry 15,090 for another night of sleeping on the mountain. Day 7 is a knee buster, we’ll hike all the way down to Mweka camp at 10,200 where we will sleep and hopefully tell stories of our triumph of the mountain behind us. Day 8 is just a few hours to the exit gate where we say our goodbyes and start the planning of our next adventure. Here’s hoping for a little luck and a lot of persistence.