The Safari fresh in our minds we drove back through Moshi to the Marangu Hotel at the base of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our Safari guide Nico was from the town of Moshi and when we told him we were planning to climb the mountain he gave us a very serious look and asked “All the way to the top?” Yep.
At 19,340 feet Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the continent of Africa which makes it one of the fabled “Seven Summits”. Although not considered a technical climb, only an estimated 30-50% of those who attempt it successfully summit Kilimanjaro. Fewer still spend the night in the crater. We chose to ascend via the Lemosho Route which is the longest of the several traditional ascents to the summit, Uhuru Peak. The Western Breach was closed at the time of our ascent, due to a recent accident it was deemed too dangerous therefore we reached the summit via Karanga Valley and Barafu Camp. Our itinerary had us taking seven days to reach the summit with an overnight in crater camp, the descent would take two days along the Mweka Route. The walking distance was 45 miles with an estimated 15,000 feet of total elevation gain.
Seamus, the proprietor of the Marangu Hotel gave us our pre climb briefing and introduced us to our crew. John was our guide, Elias assistant guide, Elvis was our cook and we had ten porters to carry enough food and gear for nine days on the mountain. After loading up the truck we spent the next few hours driving around the base of the mountain to the west side and up the roughest steepest track I’d ever seen to get to the Lemosho trailhead. Due to the long drive and our late start it wasn’t clear if we’d make it to camp before dark. Christy and I had trained hard for this trip and we made it up this first leg of the climb using our headlamps only in the final kilometer.
The following day we were up at dawn for a long day of climbing to Shira Camp One. We trekked from rain forrest, rose above the tree line and settled in for a cold evening on the Shira Plateau. The next morning we had our first clear view of the peaks of Kilimajaro.

South face Kilimanjaro

South face Kilimanjaro by Curious Lizard

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