Climbing to the snow topped roof of Africa

Trip Start May 03, 2011
Trip End Jan 31, 2013

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Where I stayed
Various tents on the mountain
What I did
Climbing the mountain

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Weeks of excitement were rewarded with the actual climb to Africa's highest mountain, the Kilimanjaro. I chose the Lemosho route since it was both challenging (longest route) and beautiful so the perfect combination I would say.

Day 1: Moshi (850m) to Mti Mkubwa (2.800m) – 5 km
8.45 hrs: At Viafrica I was picked up but my local 'homy' Samy was not part of the team. It appeared he was ill at the last moment and another guy went along in stead of him. Ok, I am flexible so up we went! First we had to go to the Londerossi gate where we arrived around 10.45 hrs. There all luggage was weighted and I had to pay the park fees ($634,- for 6 days and 5 nights). At the gate I also met a group of 4 American guys (23 years) and a group of 3 British girls (40 years) who did the same route but in 8 days. They both had a small army of porters, cooks and guides to support the whole trip. A funny sight compared with my 4 guys: John (guide), Isaac (cook), Kevin & Jackson (porters). Allright, up to the actual starting point but not before a truck got stuck in the mud and everybody (30 porters) got to get out to pus h the truck out. Around 13.00 hrs I got to the starting point, got some lunch and could start the trip. This first day you cross a part of the Western Kilimanjaro which is comprised of dense rain forest and very beautiful. Occasionally you could hear and see a few monkeys in the trees which was great ofcourse. At 16.45 hrs arrived at Mti Mkubwa (Big Tree) camp and had some dinner with the guys in the tent. Really the basic life but I love it. Around 21.15 hrs went to bed to prepare for the next big day. 
Day 2: Mti Mkubwa (2.800m) via Shira 1 (3.500m) and Shira Cathedral to Shira 2 (3.900 m) – 21 km
This day I started walking at 8.00 hrs to Shira 1 camp where I had lunch. A 4,5 hours trip trough rainforest and moorland (small trees, bushes) going up and down...up and down....up and down..which seems to be good for acclimatization. The Yanks and Brits only did Shira 1 this day and Shira 2 the next day so I said goodbye to them at Shira 1, wished them all the best and continued my journey. After lunch took a red bull, tied my shoes up again for another 12 km's (!). This was a bit longer than expected since I read in a Kili book from the Americans that there is a nice detour via the Shira Cathedral which is a few km's more but definitely worthwhile the effort which appeared to be so.. Eventually at 17.30 hrs got to Shira 2, satisfied but slightly worn out. After dinner went to sleep at the camp (where we were the only ones) for a good night of rest. 
Day 3: Shira 2 (3.900m) via Lava Tower (4.600m) to Arrow Glacier Camp (4.870 m) – 11 km
Slept 'late' until 8.00 hrs and after breakfast left at 9.00 hrs to the Lava Tower for lunch. Again a very nice trip trough a changing landscape which less vegetation and more rocks and sand and ofcourse the great view on Kibo, the highest top of the mountain. This day I really felt like I was living in the Lord of The Rings movie. Like Frodo travelling through Middle Earth on my way to Mordor to destroy the ring of power in the depths of Mount Doom. The only differences were that I didn't have a ring, I didn't have Sam, and there were no Hobbits or Uruk Hai to conquer on this journey. At 12.30 hrs reached the Lava Tower and met some other people who did Machame route since the Lava Tower was on the junction of these 2 routes. After regaining my strengths I continues to Arrow Glacier Camp which was not far but quite a steep way for about 1,5 hours. And the altitude really started to become an extra burden on top of the already existing challenge. I read by the way that between 0 – 10.000 m of altitude there is the same division of oxygen (20%) and hydrogen (80%) but the higher you get the lower the pressure so the body has to work harder to get the same amount of oxidion. Important to know since Altitude Sickness (shortage on oxygen) is the biggest cause of people not making it to the summit. Ok, around 14.30 hrs arrived at Arrow and got a big headache so after a cup of tea I went laying down in the hope it would pass. During dinner it was still not gone and I really felt like I didn't have enough oxygen so went outside of the tent to inhale a large amount of fresh air and after a while it was ok but the headache continued. Went to bed early to let my body get some rest for the final days at extreme altitude.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Day 4: Arrow Glacier Camp (4.870 m) to Crater Rim (5.730m) – 4 km
On the second day of the trip I also read about taking an alternative route to the summit which is called 'The Western Breach'. If you took this path than you would have the change to look around in the mountain's crater and see the various glaciers. Additionally, you could spend the night at 5.730 meter (in stead of the second highest camp at 4.700m) which really is a unique experience. The other side of the story is that this route is a) very steep (3/4 km distance and
1 km ascending = 25% = 45 degrees!!), b) dangerous (some Americans got killed by rockfall in 2007) and c) more expensive since the guys have to carry all the stuff up and spend the night on 5.730 m! After some discussion I agreed with John (guide) on the following: Only John, Isaac (cook) and myself went up, I would take my own big bag (10 kg in stead of 3 kg), and the porters went to another camp and we would reunite the next day. The Western Breach was the biggest challenge I have ever had and it took me about 4 hours to reach the top. I would recommend climbing Kilimanjaro to everyone but only do the Western Breach if you are really fit, not afraid, and a bit crazy! I got myself 2 nicknames after this adventure 'Strong as a
Simba kabisa' (strong as a lion) and Mzungu Kicha (crazy white guy) hahaha....sounded good to me.

Once up, I took a rest for an hour including lunch and after went to the crater which was a 45 min walk. A very nice view over the crater and I saw a sign that I was at 5.852 meter (only 43 meters from Uhuru peak), amazing! Did some looking around and went back for a dinner and a cold night with my two Tanzanian companions in a tent with -10 to -15 degrees celcius. The strange thing on this altitude is that your brain is half dead and you are not hungry and cannot sleep. I went to bed at 20.00 hrs, slept maybe 4 hours and was awake for 5 hours before getting up. John and Isaac had the same including a big headache. During the hours I was awake, I sort of analyzed the situation and concluded that you cannot dream or think about something on that altitude. You are really like a zombie!


Day 5: Crater Rim (5.730m) to Uhuru Peak (5.895m) descending to Mweka Huts (3.100m)– 15 km
Early morning around 5.00 hrs got a cup of tea, a red bull and up to the peak. After a 40 minute very steep ascend I made it and could celebrate my fulfillment with about 20 other Kili mountaineers, what a feeling! Just for the record, almost everyone took a 6 hour trip during the night (0.00 – 6.00 hrs) but since I spent the night at the crater it was only 40 minutes for me. At Uhuru Peak took a few pictures and after half an hour the descend could start. Stopped briefly at Barafu camp for a toilet break and some water and continued to Mweka Huts. I arrived at 11.00 hrs, got a good lunch and relaxed for the rest of the day with the guys. At night I got myself and Isaac a cold Kilimanjaro beer since it would be a waste to not drink a Kilimanjaro beer in the Kilimanjaro National park. Eventually it was time to get a good rest after 3 nights of a few hours sleep.

Day 6: Mweka Huts (3.100m) –to Mweka Gate (1.800m) to Moshi town (850m) - 12 km
The final day and after some coffee started the last descend. About 2 hours to the Mweka gate through dense rain forest which was really beautiful again. At the Mweka gate got my Kilimanjaro certificate and went to Moshi town by car. Back at Viafrica met with Erwin, Lina, Thomas etc to tell about my big stories and experiences and then it was time for a well deserved hot shower after 6 days without.



The day after I invited the guys for a dinner for a decent closure of the experience.

Spending a 1000 euro for 6 days of working your ass of, get dirty, sleep only a few hours per night on a 5 mm matt in a tent with -10 with 1 or 2 other guys, suffer from a 2/3 day headache, take a shit in a hole on the mountain, and 6 days without a shower....

Was it worth it?.....Definitely....every cent and every moment!!

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