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 longer routes, usually via the Lemosho or Shira route.
The campsite sits in between Uhuru and the Furtwangler Glacier. Understandably, clients are intrigued at the opportunity to sleep next to the disappearing glacier.
We are occasionally asked whether we use Crater Camp on our routes. We do so sparingly. 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.
Because of the increased risk for both clients and staff to stay at Crater Camp, trips using Crater Camp are offered only by special request and are subject to approval by Ultimate Kilimanjaro.
Here is a review of Crater Camp by one of our customers:
On the latest video, Today show host Ann Curry reports that the team is about 50/50 on whether they will attempt to climb up the Western Breach tomorrow. She noted that her original itinerary called for a climb to Crater Camp starting at 4:30AM tomorrow, and a summit bid on Friday.
Curry noted that they have a five person group, made up of members of her production team, who have experienced differing degrees of altitude sickness thus far. They have decided that they will either all continue or all descend. That being said, it’s almost certain they will NOT climb tomorrow. The likelihood that one of the five members will have symptoms of altitude sickness in the early morning is high. On the video, mountaineer Ed Viesturs warns Curry not to ascend if the team has any symptoms and to err on the side of caution, meaning to descend, rather than taking another rest day at Arrow Glacier.
The latest video of Ann on Kilimanjaro: