John Guilford's Hikes
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa on 2006-10-17/23
Location: Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, Africa
People: (including myself): Jim (and others)
Day 1: 10/17 - Start to Shira 1
Start walking: 1:20
End Road: 2:45
Start: 3:15 10000 0
Shira 1: 5:10 11800 2-1/2
Day 2: 10/18 - Shira 1 to Shira 2
Out of tent: 7:00
Lv Shira 1: 9:00 11800 0
Shira 2: 1:00 12600 6-1/2
Day 3: 10/19 - Shira 2 to Barranco
Lv Shira 2: 8:30 12600 0
Lava Tower: 11:30 15100 6
Lv Lava Tower: 1:45
Barranco: 4:00 13000 9
Day 4: 10/20 - Barranco to Karanga
Lv Barranco: 8:30 13000 0
Top of Wall: 10:15
Karanga: 12:40 13000 3
Day 5: 10/21 - Karanga to Barafu
Lv Karanga: 8:30 13000 0
Barafu: 11:15 15000 5
Day 6: 10/22 - Barafu to Summit to Mweka
Get Up: 11:00pm
Lv Barafu: 12:00am 15000 0
Stella Point: 5:45 3
Uhuru Peak: 6:45 19340 3-1/2
Lv Summit: 7:15
Barafu: 9:40 15000 7
Lv Barafu: 1:15pm
Mweka: 4:30 10200 11
Day 7: 10/23 - Mweka to End
Lv Mweka: 8:15 10200 0
Out: 11:20 7?
Day One: Start to Shira 1 Camp
The weather had been a bit wet in the days leading up to the climb, and we
weren't sure what to expect on the mountain, but it was looking pretty good
as we drove out of Arusha in our Land Cruisers.
The first stop was Londorossi,
just inside the National Park that encompasses
Kilimanjaro. There we hired the multitude of porters who would carry
virtually everything for our party of 17 clients. This was a relatively
slow process as all our stuff needed to be unpacked, divided up, and
weighed. They have strict rules about the maximum weight any particular
porter can carry. If a porter is caught carrying more weight than the
allowed limit, then the tour company gets a hefty fine. Thus, they divide
up the loads, weigh them, and each porter carries the same things for the
duration of the climb.
Let me digress a bit here and discuss guides and porters. I arranged this
trip through a US based Bio Bio Expeditions. Their guide, Jorge, was the
person we dealt with the most. Jorge hired two local head guides, Frank 1
and Frank 2. They, in turn, hired the rest of the porters and guides.
There is an entire hierarchy of porters/guides.
All of them carry. For the lowest level porter, that is all that they do.
They have no other tasks in camp. As one progresses up the hierarchy, they
get more tasks. For example, some are responsible for maintaining the
latrine. Some are cooks. At the top of the hierarchy are the various
guides who ascend to the summit with us, the guides and assistant guides.
Of course, those with more responsibility get paid more.
The basic porter made about $50 plus tips for the week's work. They carry
everything we used except for our personal day pack, which contained water,
clothing, and anything else we might want during that day's hike. A couple
members of our party decided to hire their own personal porter to carry
their day pack. Hence they carried essentially nothing during the daily
hike. Their personal porter's job was basically to stay with us carrying
that person's day pack (plus their own stuff) and be available whenever
that person wanted access to the day pack.
After the porters were hired and the loads divided up, we continued up the
mountain. They had us hike a little ways up the road to stretch our legs
and see some of the flora/fauna down in the more temperate parts of the
mountain. They then picked us up, and we continued driving up the mountain.
Unfortunately we had some mechanical trouble with one of the
Land Cruisers. We had to keep stopping while they crawled under it (in the
muddy road) and tried to get it going again. Eventually they pushed it off
the side of the road and we crammed the people into the remaining
vehicles. Due to the delays, they drove us higher up the mountain than
they usually do.
They took us to the end of the road at about 10000 feet.
While the porters unloaded the vehicles and got organized, we, the clients,
ate lunch. Here, the weather wasn't quite so nice. It was cooler and
there was a fog/mist hanging around that prompted us to don raingear.
After lunch we started the first "real" hike. This was a short hike due
to the late start. For most of the clients, this was their first
experience with hiking at altitude. A few people, like my brother and I,
already had experience with altitude and knew what to expect. Some of the
others were more surprised how quickly they tired when the trail went
upwards, and how fast they recovered when the trail leveled out.
The first hike was across the Shira plain, and broad, reasonably flat plain
on the southeast side of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Due to the fog/low clouds we
could not see the actual mountain.
After a couple hour hike, we arrived at Shira 1 Camp. The porters had
passed us by soon after we started from the lunch area. They already had
the camp set up. The clients used large (huge by my backpacking standards)
2-man tents. My brother and I shared one. At each camp, the tents were on
a first-come basis. When we arrived at a camp, we just picked an
unoccupied tent and claimed it.
In addition to our tents, there was also a cook tent and a huge "space
station" dome tent used for our meals. In this tent, they placed folding
tables across the diameter. We could sit all the clients (17+guide) at
this table (so there were 9 people per side). There were also additional
chairs away from the table.
To complete our amenities, they carried up two sit-down toilet seats along
with a small privacy tent for client use. Unfortunately the roof of the
tent was somewhat leaky which caused us not to dally.
After getting settled into our tent, we joined the rest of the party and
had dinner in the space station. After dinner we pretty much went straight
to bed. The first few nights I didn't sleep very well. It was probably a
combination of jet-lag, excitement over the climb, and the novelty of
I wondered where the 80 or so porters slept. They obviously didn't have
the roomy 2-person tents we did. I later asked and found that they crammed
themselves into the cook tent and the space station tent after the clients
left for the night. The porters ate dinner after the clients and had
breakfast before we did in the morning.
Day 2: Shira 1 to Shira 2
The morning dawned cloudless and sunny. It had dropped below freezing
overnight, but it warmed up quickly in the sun. The morning routine, which
we would basically follow for the rest of the climb started. About 6:30 or
so we'd wake up and start getting our things together. A porter would stop
by our tent with hot water and tea. While we drank that, we packed up our
sleeping bags, mats, and clothing. Everything except what we'd use for the
day went into our duffle bag. When I was preparing for the climb, I bought
two differently sized duffle bags. The larger one seemed huge to me and I
would be embarrassed to ask the porters to carry that, hence I took the
smaller one. This had one advantage for me - I had debated what sleeping
bag to bring on the climb. I had a smaller, warmer down bag, and a larger
synthetic bag. In my recent climbs using the down bag I found it to be too
warm. Hence I had planned on the synthetic bag. However, with the smaller
duffle I had to switch to the down bag for space reasons. This was a good
thing as I found I needed the extra warmth of the down bag. I think I
would have been cold without it. With the down bag, I was reasonably
comfortable at night. However, even with the down bag, the smaller duffle
was pretty full and a bit of a challenge to get closed in the mornings.
On the climb I noticed other people with (I thought) huge duffle bags, so I
would not have been out of place with the larger bag. However, had I taken
it, I probably would have brought my other sleeping and been cold.
When my bag was packed, I'd leave the tent, make my morning absolutions,
and head over to the space station for breakfast. For most of the climb
they had fresh eggs for breakfast in addition to oatmeal and toast. They
didn't have coffee, but they did have different types of tea plus hot
chocolate and a hot African beverage whose name I don't recall.
While we had breakfast, the porters struck the tents and started packing up
the camp. After breakfast, we got our day packs and started hiking. Soon
thereafter, the line of porters (carrying our camp) would pass by us,
moving faster, arriving at the next camp ahead of us. There, they'd set up
camp before we arrived such that everything was ready when we got there.
Our route was one of the lesser traveled routes up Kilimanjaro. In the
beginning our group was mostly by itself. As the days went by, though,
other routes joined ours, it got more crowded, and we had to share the
campsites with more and more other expeditions. Our tour group would send
off a couple of fast "runners" first thing in the morning. Their job was
to hurry to the next camp and try to secure the better sites for our group
This hike was still across the Shira plain and reasonably flat. We were
still acclimatizing and didn't mind the easy hiking. The sunny warm
weather was delightful after the cooler, wetter day we had previously. We
got our first view of Mt. Kilimanjaro this morning. It wasn't a terribly
great view; however, as the sun was behind the peak, back lighting it and
causing it to be mostly a silhouette.
Our hike today was longer than the first day's hike but still reasonably
short. We were taking our time climbing the mountain to give our bodies
time to acclimatize to the altitude. In some ways, we were just killing
time at altitude while our bodies adjusted.
At lunch time we arrived at Shira 2 camp. This was less than a thousand
feet higher than Shira 1 as we were mostly crossing the Shira plain. We
did gain enough altitude to look back across the plain and see where we'd
been. About lunch time the clouds came in and we returned to the
misty/foggy weather we'd seen the first day. That turned out to be the
standard pattern most days: it would be clear and sunny at dawn, it would
be nice in the morning, about mid-day the clouds would come in (often you
could see them building down below and approaching), and the afternoon would be
wet. Sometimes the skies cleared in the evening, but it cooled off quickly
in the evening so we didn't spend much time star gazing.
Our guide had planned a voluntary afternoon day hike for anyone who wanted
to go, but with the wet weather he had no takers. He was just as happy not
to have to go himself.
We spent the afternoon either in our own tent or in the space station
reading or chatting.
We again retired soon after dinner.
Day 3: Shira 2 to Barranco via the Lava Tower
This day started the same as the earlier ones, with warm tea and sunny
skies. Not counting the actual summit climb, today's hike would be the
longest and most difficult hike of the climb. The goal today was to get
some more elevation both for acclimatization as well as to give the guide a
chance to see how well the various clients responded to the altitude. The
plan was to hike up to a rock formation called the Lava Tower at just over
15000 feet. There we would have lunch before descending down to our next
camp, Barranco, at 13000. Thus we'd have little net gain in elevation for
the day, though we would climb another 2000.
There is a different route that bypasses the Lava Tower and doesn't climb
up to 15000. This is the route that most of the porters used to transport
our camp. Some porters did carry the space station up to the Lava Tower
for our lunch.
One of our group, unfortunately, wasn't adjusting adequately to the
altitude and had to head back down after breakfast.
Shortly before we got to the Lava Tower the weather pattern repeated itself,
and the clouds came in. The climb to the Lava Tower was a new altitude
record for me (previously it had been Mt. Rainier at 14400). Due to
acclimatizing, I felt pretty good at 15000 feet. Certainly I felt better
than I had at the top of Rainier, but on Rainier I gone almost straight up
from sea level in about 24 hours.
They didn't bother hauling the cook tent up to the Lava Tower, so they used
an area inside the space station to cook the water for lunch.
After lunch we spent some time taking pictures of the Lava
Tower and each
other before heading back down towards Barranco. The fog and mist was
about us in force by now, and I really couldn't see the broader terrain we
were hiking through. Mostly my world was the trail and immediately
In the late afternoon we arrived at Barranco camp and
settled in. I was
somewhat tired by the day's hike but feeling pretty good. I think all of
us were wondering how we'd do on summit day. People respond differently to
altitude, and it is hard to predict how any particular person will react
until they're there. Even then it is hard to predict. Some of the people
who had the most trouble on the way to the Lava Tower did well on the
summit climb. Conversely, some who did okay at the Lava Tower hard an
extremely hard time on the way to the summit. But at this point, we didn't
know how we'd do. I think many of us were afraid our bodies would end up
failing us at the crux. That fear aside, I was reasonably happy with how I
performed on the way up to the Lava Tower and back.
Day 4 - Barranco to Karanga via the "Breakfast Wall"
This morning was bright and cloudless like all the earlier ones. This
allowed me to both get a good look at the (what I now knew to be) valley we
had come down the previous day as well as the route we'd be taking today.
Barranco camp lies in the bottom of a flat valley.
The route out climbs
the rather steep wall of the canyon for quite some distance. They call
this climb the "Breakfast Wall" as we climb it right after breakfast.
There is a decent trail up the side that really doesn't have significant
exposure, though it is mostly narrow with some scrambling required. By now
a number of other groups had joined us, so the campsite was getting
larger/more crowded. The climb up the Breakfast Wall was pretty slow.
That wasn't due to the difficulty - it was due to the traffic jams.
Everyone had to go up the same trail out of valley. Normally we let the
porters pass us by as they move faster and need to set up the next camp.
However, if we did that on the Wall, we'd end up waiting all morning as the
seemingly unending line of porters proceeded up the wall. Hence we tried
to let them by when we could, but there were times we had to get in line
and just work our way up.
Eventually we worked our way to the top of the wall and the trail broadened
out and flattened. Other than the wall, today was another easy day after
the previous climb up to the Lava Tower. The trail rose and fell as we
traversed the side of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
We arrived at Karanga in time for lunch again.
The further we went on the
climb, the poorer the campsites became. Initially, on the Shira plain, we
had lots of flat level ground. As we went higher, the ground became more
sloping. Semi-flat areas had been carved out for the tents, but the
results weren't perfect. It became harder to try to orient your sleeping
bag with the slope. Ideally your body would line up with the slope with
your head at the higher end. Sometimes you had to lie across the slope and
things would tend to slide down to the downhill side of the tent. Thus
there was some interest to be nearer the front of our party when we got to
camp so as to have a better choice of the available tents (and you could try
to find a leveler one).
After lunch a sporadic light rain came in, and our guide again had no
takers for his optional afternoon hike. We spent the rest of the day till
dinner reading, talking, or playing cards.
Day 5 - Karanga to Barafu
This was another short day time-wise,
though we would gain 2000 feet of
elevation. Our acclimatizing time was drawing to a close and it was time
to actually climb the peak. Today would take us to the final camp before
the summit bid.
Barafu is the highest camp below the summit and the first one we used that
didn't have a nearby source of water. It lies on the far rim of a canyon
that cuts the side of Kilimanjaro. The porters have to descend to the
bottom of the canyon to get water. We had to descend and cross the canyon
before switchbacking up the far side to the camp.
In camp, we had lunch and tried to get some rest in the afternoon.
We had an early
dinner and retreated to the tents to try to get some rest about 6.
I got a little
rest, but like most of us I was too keyed up to really get any sleep.
Arguably the main point of the entire trip was looming before us. Tonight
we'd find out whether we would be up to the effort.
We got up about 11pm, had a last minute tea and snack at 11:30, and started
up towards the summit at midnight. It was near to a new moon
(not to mention overcast with occasional light snow) so it was
very dark at night. Our world mostly retreated to the reach of our
headlamp. From the lights moving higher up the mountain, I could tell that
other groups started off before us.
Day 6A - Barafu to summit and back to Barafu
When we first started, I thought the pace was exceedingly slow. We take
one step, pause, breath, and then take another. However, it soon became
apparent to me that this was really about as fast as I could continuously
go. In fact, I have to say that I think the guides did an excellent job
setting the pace. I'm sure the pace was slow for them, but for us it was
as much as we could handle. Due to the slow pace we arrived at the summit
less than exhausted and feeling reasonably good. But I'm skipping ahead of
On the way up to the rim, we'd climb for an hour or so and then take a
short break of only a minute or two.
This was time to take care of personal needs, perhaps
have a snack, and get a bit of rest. Like most of my high altitude climbs
I brought more snacks than I felt like eating. The goal was to give us
enough time to do what we needed to do, but not so long that people got
cold. I could tell that they tended to stop at the same locations on the
summit bid as if you moved off trail to find some privacy, you'd come
across the results of other people who had had to "take care of business".
It would have been cool to do the summit climb during a full moon. I
expect you might be able to leave off the head lamp and climb via moon
light. If nothing else, you'd be able to see the surrounding terrain.
With the new moon, however, you could never really see very far. Perhaps
this is good in that you can't see how much further you have to go and
despair. With the limited range of vision, you really can't tell if you're
almost there or just starting.
I don't really remember too much of the actual climb. With the dark I
couldn't take pictures. I sort of retreated into myself, putting one foot
in front of the other. You get into a rhythm and just keep going. In some
ways it is like zoning out. A very light snow fell during the ascent. It
was just enough to turn the ground white which made it trivial to see the
trail and footsteps ahead. It wasn't enough to affect the footing and it
didn't last hardly any time after the sun came up.
We reached Stella Point on the rim of Kilimanjaro
a bit before dawn. The
crater was still in the dark though we could see swirls of fog/mist blowing
around down there. Dawn was spectacular. We took pictures and
congratulated ourselves on the achievement. Getting to this point was the
hard part of the climb. The true summit lies about a half mile around the
rim from Stella point. It still takes effort to get there, but that effort
is easier than the climb up to the rim.
One of our clients really didn't handle the altitude
well. He was helped
up by a couple assistant guides who almost had to drag him up the trail to
Stella Point. The guides consider the rim to "count" as far as climbing
Kilimanjaro. This particular client turned around there and headed back
down. The rest of us continued through the growing light towards Uhuru
Peak as the summit is know. The dawning light lit up the remaining
glaciers on Kilimanjaro with a lovely warm light.
It was a bit below freezing but the skies had cleared with no more snow.
You could tell the prevailing wind direction by the blown frost rime on the
leeward side of rocks.
After a slow hike around the crater, we finally arrived at the very top of
Mt. Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, 19,340 feet. The sky was still clear and we
spent a half hour taking pictures with various combinations of people in
front of the summit sign. It felt like we photographed every permutation
of our group. Then it was time to start back down. The weather turned
earlier in the day than in previous days. It wasn't long after we started
down that the clouds came in a blocked out the sun.
The climb down from Stella Point to Barafu was anticlimactic. In one sense
the climb was over - we'd reached the summit. All that remained was the
long slog down. We were tired. We didn't have much sleep the night before
and we'd already been hiking for 8 or 9 hours. With daylight we could at
least see the terrain we had climbed the previous night.
Needless to say, the trip down went faster than the climb up. What took
almost 7 hours to ascend took barely 2-1/2 hours to descend. Back at
Barafu, we had a quick meal and retreated to the tents to get a quick rest
before heading further down the mountain to Mweka camp.
Day 6B - Barafu to Mweka
After a couple hour rest, we broke camp and headed down. The trail down to
Mweka is straight down. It is a one-way (downhill only) trail that isn't
wasted on niceties such as switchbacks. It goes pretty much straight down
grade. From the summit to Mweka, we descend more than 9000 feet in 16-1/2
After the thin air at the summit, the air at Barafu felt pretty thick. I
had to remind myself that this was still higher than the top of
Mt. Rainier. As we descended the air continued to thicken and vegetation
started to appear.
The emergence of green initially felt strange. I hadn't realized until
then that I'd spent the past half week in rocky terrain that was almost
entirely browns and grays. The plant life started out small and low. As
we kept descending, the plants got taller. Soon we were amid small trees
and then large ones.
Going down was hard on the knees even if easier on the lungs. I did okay,
but some of the others got pretty sore on the way down. At times it was as
if we were descending a never ending stair case. I was very impressed by
the porters. They loped past us carrying 60 pound loads. Stomp,
stomp, stomp. I couldn't see how they could do this w/out destroying their
joints. They must have titanium knees.
The terrain also got wetter as we descended. Mweka camp was pitched in an
area cleared out from the forest. It was different from our previous camps
in that the ground was somewhat muddy. Our earlier camps were
rocky/sandy/gritty but not muddy. We had our last dinner on the trail and
retired for a well deserved night's rest.
Day 7 - Mweka out
The next morning was a gorgeous, sunny day. A short walk back up the
trail led to a clearing with a wonderful view of the summit of
Kilimanjaro. I lamented that I didn't summit this morning instead of the
previous morning. Today we would have had great views all morning. Still,
I couldn't complain too much. Our weather was nice enough. But being on
the summit this morning looked like it would have been stunning.
After breakfast we had the traditional closing ceremony with our porters.
It would be the last we'd see of them. They would pass us (as usual) on
the hike out, drop their loads at the bottom, and hurry back to the
starting point to try to get another job. This is their livelihood, and
the more trips they take, the more money they bring home.
The first part of their ceremony is pay. Each porter comes up, gets his
pay for the trip, and gets his share of the tips that the clients all
contributed to. Then they line up behind our bags and sing a traditional
song. I could identify the porter who carried my bag on the trip (remember
from the beginning I said that each porter carried the same load for the
whole climb. Thus my duffel was carried by the same porter the whole
time) as he stood behind my bag. This allowed me to find him and give him
a bit of an additional tip.
Then we were off on the final hike of the trip. The trail got wider and
better and soon it was a dirt road. The weather got warmer as we
descended. By the time we got to the bottom, we were tired, dirty, hungry,
and dirty. On the way down from Mweka all we could think about was the hot
shower back in Arusha.
As we neared the bottom we started seeing other people. These are local
natives. Many of them were children.
They were a bit of a pain as while they weren't exactly beggars,
they were rather close. They offered to have you take a picture with them
and then ask for money. "Photo? Photo?" was followed by "Dollar?
Dollar?" Not wanting to deal with the hassles, I tried to avoid even
looking like I might be taking their pictures. When they weren't trying to
get their picture taken or asking for money, they were cutting large leaves
from the trees. These they bound into bundles and carried out.
My brother, who is a softer touch than I, got caught up in the begging.
Two kids approached us and asked Jim for one of the several carabiners that
he had clipped to the back of his day pack. They hounded him a bit. He
felt bad for them, and gave them one. This marked him as a sucker, and
they redoubled their assault, asking for the other one. Jim ended up
feeling he had been unfair - there was two children and he only gave them
one carabiner which they couldn't share. So he gave the other kid his
other carabiner. They hounded him a bit more, but he had had enough, and
eventually they gave up.
We ended the climb at a little compound where we met up with the rest of
the tour group (and I met up with my wife who had come out to Africa a week
after I had, skipping the climb but joining me for the following safaris).
It was strange being back in civilization with flowers and buildings after
being on the mountain in tents for a week. It was only a week. It makes
me wonder how people who do expeditions lasting months feel when they
return. Pam was glad to see me, but not so glad that she wanted to get too
close. Apparently after the week on the mountain, we had developed a bit
of an, uh, "aroma."
The compound was walled and even had a guard at the entrance.
That was good as it was the only way we could survive the crowd of people
outside trying to sell us stuff. We had peace and privacy during lunch and
while we boarded the bus. After we boarded the bus that would take us back
to Arusha, they opened the flood gates and the bus was immediately
surrounded by folks yelling through the windows trying to sell us stuff.
Some folks bought things after haggling over prices, but that isn't my
thing, so I just ignored them until we left.
Conclusion and final thoughts
One thing I've thought about is whether I'd do it again, which is perhaps
another way of saying "was it worth it?" If it wasn't for the cost, I'd do
it again. It was a great trip and worth doing at least once. That said, I
doubt I'll ever climb Kilimanjaro again, mostly due to my limited resources
and the desire to go someplace else that I haven't been to already.
Of all my high altitude climbs, Kilimanjaro was the easiest. I mean I
felt climbing Kilimanjaro was easier than climbing Mt. Rainier or
Mt. Adams. One reason for this is that the slower pace gave me more time
for acclimatizing. Probably the biggest reason was the porters. Unlike my
other climbs, they carried everything. I just had to carry myself. That
makes a big difference.
I should mention medication a bit. Prior to heading for Kilimanjaro, I saw
my doctor and got prescriptions for Diamox and Dexamethasone. The former
medication speeds the acclimatizing process. To be most effective,
therefore, you need to take it for the whole climb up. By the time you
discover you need it, it is too late to start. In some part of my mind, it
might have been nice to say I climbed w/out the assistance of drugs.
However, I wanted to enjoy the climb as much as I could, plus I wanted to
maximize my chance of success. In hindsight I can say I was able to make
the climb without major problems. But prior there was some doubt. So I
chose to take the drugs. Diamox not only helps acclimatization, but it is
also a diuretic. We had ample water available, so we had no problem
keeping hydrated, but it did means getting up a couple times a night to
head outside the tent to take care of business.
Regarding Dex, I was told it was for treating high altitude edema and hence
was supposed to be used only in a crisis situation. One of members of our
party was friends with (if I recall correctly) the chief cardiologist of
some large hospital in the San Francisco area. She said that newer
research indicated that dex also had effect in reducing other high altitude
problems. In the better-safe-than-sorry line of thought I ended up taking
a dose prior to the summit attempt. I'm not sure if it helped or not.
During the climb I found it interesting to view the group dynamics among
the clients. There were several different groups (of between 2 and 4
people) who knew each other before the climb, as well as some individuals.
For the most part we did not know one another prior to starting the climb.
What surprised me was how rapidly we got comfortable with each, enough to
talk about intimate issues (generally regarding various bodily functions)
that I'd not normally discuss with friends let alone strangers. I think
shared hardships tend to bond people together. It is along the lines of
an old mountaineer's proverb that says on a climb modesty is inversely
proportional to altitude.
In general things were pretty jovial in camp. We'd laugh at the stupidest
things. It seemed to happen more as we got higher. We started saying,
"Oh, that was a 13000 foot joke" meaning it was a joke that was funny if
you were higher than 13000 feet but not funny lower.
I can't begin to say enough nice things about our guides. They had a great
attitude and really made the climb pleasant for us clients. They were very
professional and worked hard to make sure as many clients as possible would
succeed up to the summit safely.
At Londorossi weighing the porters' loads.
Shira 1 camp in the fog and mist.
The "space station" tent where we had meals.
The line of porters passing us just outside Shira 1 camp.
Leaving Shira 2. The porters are still taking down camp.
Our group just before the Lava Tower. The summit is visible through a
break in the clouds.
Beginning the descent from the Lava Tower in some weather.
John standing next to a Senecio plant.
Barranco camp at night. You can see some silhouettes of porters inside
the Space Station.
Morning tea service. This was at Barranco camp, but it happened every
The valley leading down to Barranco camp. We didn't see it the
previous day due to fog and clouds.
The Breakfast Wall. You can see the line of people ascending.
Jim on the Breakfast Wall ascending one of the steeper parts.
Jim (and others) approaching Karanga camp. Karanga is visible on the
far side of the valley at the top of the steep trail visible on the right
half of the picture.
John on the way to Karanga.
The summit of Kilimanjaro as seen from Karanga on the (sunny) morning
of day 5.
The looming clouds below Karanga. They looked ominous but didn't catch
up with us till late in the day.
Jim and John at Karanga with Kilimanjaro in the background.
First light viewed from Stella point on the crater rim of Kilimanjaro.
Inside the crater of Mt. Kilmanjaro.
One of the remaining glaciers on top of Kilimanjaro lit by the dawn.
Dawn from the rim of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
John and Jim by the summit sign at 19,340 feet.
The wind blown frost growing sideways on the rim.
Descending from Barafu to Mweka. Someone is carrying a wheeled
stretcher back up the mountain. You can tell that this is a deluxe
stretcher since it has shock absorbers (others we saw did not).
The summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro from Mweka camp on the morning of day 7.
Notice how clear the weather was! Too bad we summited the day before.
The porters standing behind our bags at the closing "ceremony" at
The porters passing us (yet again) on the way down from Mweka.
Almost out now. The trail has become a road. You can see a couple of
the locals carrying cut leaves in the center of the picture.
John after the climb of Kilimanjaro. Boy! Does he need a shower!
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Last updated on: Mon Jun 8 16:50:16 PDT 2015