Apr 192013


45% of climbers use the Machame route.
40% of climbers use the Marangu route.
8% of climbers use the Lemosho route.
5% of climbers use the Rongai route.
1% of climbers use the Shira route.
0% of climbers use the Umbwe route.

In contrast, Ultimate Kilimanjaro clients use Lemosho (75%), Rongai (12%), Machame (10%) and Marangu (3%).

Nov 192008


Anny Curry is still at Arrow Glacier camp and reports still feeling somewhat sick despite taking a rest day.  It was 3pm Kilimanjaro time at the time the video was made.  This is not a good sign and I predict she will not attempt the Western Breach tomorrow morning.  Proper acclimatization is particularly important when using the Western Breach because once a partial ascent is made, it is tremendously difficult, if not impossible, to descend on the breach.  Therefore, if her symptoms worsen during the climb, she will not be able to make an immediate descent, which is the best treatment for altitude sickness.  Instead, Curry would still have to continue climbing to the crater ridge before descending on the other side of the mountain.

Additionally, her itinerary probably calls for her to spend a night at Crater Camp (18,500 ft) tomorrow night.  The increase in altitude from Arrow Glacier to Crater Camp is beyond the recommended guidelines which say that ideally one should gain no more than 1,000 feet per night.  Crater Camp also sits in what is classified as the “extreme” zone – over 18,000 feet.  So it would be highly risky (and pretty foolish) for someone who is experiencing altitude sickness at 16,000 feet during a rest day to stay at Crater Camp on the next night.

Curry also mentioned on video that yesterday she climbed from Barranco Camp, not Moir Hut, to Arrow Glacier.  Barranco sits at about 13,000 feet.  Thus, it appears that her climb itinerary looks like this so far.

Machame/Western Breach

  1. Machame Gate to Machame Camp (9,350 ft)
  2. Machame camp to Shira Camp (12,500 ft)
  3. Shira Camp to Barranco Camp (13,044 ft)
  4. Barranco to Arrow Glacier Camp (15,998 ft)
  5. Rest day at Arrow Glacier Camp (15,998 ft)

Again, this is not a typical itinerary.  I’ll be watching closely to see what happens from here.

Nov 182008


Ann Curry, Today show anchor, is reporting from Arrow Glacier camp (16,000 ft).  She stated that she has climbed from 13,000 to 16,000 ft. today in 8 hours, which suggests that she left from Moir camp (13,800 ft).  The distance between Moir to Arrow Glacier is about 5 miles.  This would not be a typical itinerary, if this is the case.  The Machame route usually goes from Shira Camp to Arrow Glacier, with a stop at Lava Tower.  Moir Hut is used moreso on the Lemosho route.

Curry is feeling the effects of altitude and will stay at this altitude for an extra day to acclimatize. From what I can gather from her videos and journal entries, she began her Machame route climb on November 15th, making today her fourth day on the mountain.  Her summit attempt should occur on November 20th (day six) or 21st (day seven), depending on whether she spends a night at Crater Camp at all, and if so, whether it is before or after summiting.  The next segment, the climb up the Western Breach to Crater Camp (18,500 ft), should prove to be the most physically challenging of her journey.

Videos of Curry’s climb are linked below:

Nov 172008


Today show anchor Ann Curry is currently on Mount Kilimanjaro to report on the state of the planet.  In their ‘Ends of the Earth’ series, NBC reporters Meredith Vieira, Al Roker and Matt Lauer are in Australia, Iceland, and Belize respectively to explore climate change.

Based on her Kilimanjaro Journal, Curry, age 52, is attempting to climb using Machame route and the Western Breach summit approach.  The Western Breach is the most difficult path – and the most dangerous.  The rocky slope ascends 2,800 feet in a distance of 1.25 miles.  Rockfall in January 2006 killed three Americans, resulting in the closure of the route for nearly two years.  Even now, there are few operators who will guide climbers up the breach due to the risks.  Given that Curry is an inexperienced climber, only learned of the assignment three weeks ago, and admittedly did not train much, I am a bit surprised she would attempt to climb Kilimanjaro using the Western Breach.

I will monitor her climb in the days ahead.

Below are video links of her on the mountain:

May 152008

Attempting the Machame route in 6 days is very tough.  The standard 7-day route is shown here:

machame itin

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.