Posted on Nov 11, 2011 under General, Medical, Routes |
Crater Camp is a campsite that is located near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, around 18,800 feet above sea level. (Uhuru Peak is 19,345 feet above sea level.) It is utilized by some climb operators during eight or nine day climbs, usually via the Lemosho or Shira route and Western Breach approach.
The campsite sits in between Uhuru and the Furtwangler Glacier. Understandably, clients are intrigued at the opportunity to sleep next to the disappearing glacier. Additonally, they like the idea of having a short walk to the summit.
We are occasionally asked whether we use Crater Camp on our routes. We do not. Here’s why. Sleeping at such a high altitude is the most dangerous thing you can do on Mount Kilimanjaro. The previous night’s altitude is about 15,000-16,000 feet in elevation, whether you stayed at Arrow Glacier or Barafu. A gain of 3,000-4,000 feet is simply too much of an adjustment for most people. The result is that there is a high likelihood to be stricken by altitude sickness, especially during sleep. And once that occurs, a evacuation from near the top of Kilimanjaro in the middle of the night, though possible, is a burdensome task.
It is far easier on the body to climb from 15,000-16,000 feet to the summit (19,345 feet), then descend down to Mweka (10,065 feet). Clients who are affected by altitude sickness on the way up will usually recover very quickly as they descend. That is a stark contrast to what would happen if they were required to sleep at almost 19,000 feet.
Therefore, we do not use Crater Camp because of the risk involved for both clients and staff (the porters do not want to sleep up there either due to altitude sickness, extreme weather conditions, and lack of toilets).
Posted on May 17, 2009 under General, Routes |
Yes- the summit of Mount Meru is almost 15,000 feet high. If you climb Meru, you can, with one day or no days in between, climb Kilimanjaro thereafter with a lower number of days (5 or 6) because you will have had exposure to approximately the highest altitude where you will camp on Kilimanjaro (Kibo Hut and Barafu are about 15,500 feet high).
However, do not be too aggressive on either trek. To do Meru and a challenging Kilimanjaro climb back to back may put too much stress on your body. And strenuous activity increases the likelihood of altitude sickness. So while the Meru/Kilimanjaro climb combination can increase the probability of summit success over a lengthy Kilimanjaro climb alone, it can also decrease it. The success of this schedule depends on how strong of a hiker you are.
Posted on May 28, 2008 under General, Medical, Routes, Statistics |
Earlier this month, Ultimate Kilimanjaro posted a Kilimanjaro Climb Survey on the discussion forums of Lonely Planet, Summit Post and Trip Advisor. The purpose of the survey was to collect data that could assist others who are considering climbing Kilimanjaro in their decision making.
The survey was a short 20 question, multiple choice survey, and that took people an average of just over 3 minutes to complete. As of today, there were 49 respondents. Below are the summarized results of the first 10 questions:
- male climbers outnumbered female climbers by 2 to 1
- 54% of climbers were between 31 and 40 years of age
- 22% of climbers obtained a medical check prior to climbing
- 80% of climbers obtained all recommended vaccinations, immunizations and medications
- 67% of climbers obtained travel insurance
- July was the most popular month for climbing Kilimanjaro
- 45% chose 6 day routes; 31% chose 7 day routes; 10% chose 9 day routes
- 45% climbed Machame; 20% climbed Marangu; 16% climbed Lemosho
- Only 6% of climbers hiked to Kibo Crater
- 84% of climbers reached Uhuru Point
The most surprising figure is that 84% of the respondents reached the summit, while it is widely cited that the overall summit success rate is about 50%. However, there are a few possible explanations of the rather high success rate for survey respondents. First, keep in mind that park statistics reflect that the Machame Route is slightly more popular than Marangu Route, but the respondents overwhelmingly chose Machame over Marangu (45% vs. 20%). Also, only 10% did a 5 or less day climb. The lack of respondents using Marangu and 5 or less day climbs would improve the survey’s summit success percentages tremendously.
A good percentage of people who attempt Kilimanjaro have absolutely no hiking, backpacking or high altitude experience. But the respondents on the cited forums are typically serious backpackers, independent travelers and mountaineers, all of whom have an advantage on Kilimanjaro versus their less experienced counterparts. Finally, respondents are also likely to be people who succeeded on the mountain and had a good time doing it.
Posted on May 19, 2008 under Routes |
Most people avoid climbing during Mount Kilimanjaro’s two rainy seasons. The long rainy season begins in mid-March and lasts through early June. The short rainy season is from November to early December. Bad weather makes climbing more difficult and less enjoyable in several ways. Most obviously, rain makes you wet, which robs the body of warmth and heightens the risk of hypothermia. Water causes changes to the terrain, making the ground muddy, soft and slippery. Visibility is reduced by clouds, fog, wind and water. So given this, why would anyone climb during the rainy season?
First, sometimes personal schedules do not allow someone to climb during the dry season. And since the mountain is accessible year-round, they proceed with their trek. Secondly, Kilimanjaro is a very popular (i.e., crowded) mountain during the dry season. Those wanting to avoid the crowds choose the rainy season to have the park to themselves. Lastly, although the chances of encountering precipitation during these time periods are significantly greater than Kilimanjaro’s dry season, it is not guaranteed that this is the case. A large mountain like Kilimanjaro causes its own weather, which is notoriously unpredictable. Therefore, the opportunity for great weather or foul weather exists no matter when a climb is attempted.
If one does plan on climbing during the rainy season, consider the following:
- The northern part of the mountain recevies less rain than the southern parts. Therefore, Rongai is the preferred route when climbing during the rainy season. Marangu is also good route because of the hut accommodations.
- Quality rain gear is essential. Climbers should make sure that they have waterproof, breathable jacket, pants and boots. The day pack and duffel should be protected from rain with backpack covers or plastic bags. Everything inside the pack and duffel should be stored in ziplock bags as well.
- The difficulty of a route increases with bad weather. So do the dangers. When climbing during the rainy season, it is better to plan less strenuous itineraries.
Posted on May 15, 2008 under Routes |
Attempting the Machame route in 6 days is very tough. The standard 7-day route is shown here:
So to do the route in 6-days, you need to shave off one day from the standard route. Here are the options:
- On day two, trek from Machame to Barranco, without camping at Shira. This is difficult because you’d have to climb from 2,850 m to 4,600 m and descend to sleep at 4,000 m. You’ll be on the trail a long time, for 10-14 hours.
- On day four, trek from Barranco to Barafu, without camping at Karanga. This is difficult because it can take 8-10 hours to complete this leg, and then you can only sleep a few hours before you prepare for the midnight assault on the summit and descent, which can take another 11-14 hours. Therefore, you’d be walking for 20 or so hours with only a few hours of sleep in between.
- Through day five, you’d stick to the 7-day itinerary, trekking from Karanga to Barafu. On day six, you’d summit and descend all the way to Mweka gate, instead of stopping at Mweka camp, and get off the mountain. Summit day is already tough without adding an extra 3-4 hours to your walk. This day may last 14-18 hours.
As you can see, none of these are ideal. Therefore the 6-day Machame route is not recommended. Unless you know you are a strong hiker and can adapt quickly to high altitude, the 7-day option is the best option.