The drive from the airport passed through verdant fields of maize, sunflowers, and coffee. Roadside sellers had all sorts of goods including freshly butchered meat, charcoal for fuel, lumber for building and 3 piece furniture suites. School children dressed smartly on their uniforms made their way home. A boy with freshly caught fish slung from his hand boarded a bus and a motorbike so laden down with sugarcane veered across the lane to halt beside another stall. Small vans full of passengers decorated with everything from Jesus to football teams to machine guns picked up more passengers on their way to somewhere else. This is everyday life in this part of Tanzania, a small slice of what the country has to show us.
John, Jaclyn, and Kristin arrived yesterday afternoon and have settled into the hotel, despite one of the reservations being a double room for Mr. and Mrs. Madison. A minor delay while we explained there was no one called Madison in our group and no couples.
This morning we did gear checks, making sure we have the right clothing and equipment to take us to more than 19,000′. It’s hard to imagine in the heat of the day here, that we will need down jackets and the rest of the warm gear we have with us. But then again the famous Snows of Kilimanjaro would not exist unless the temperatures were freezing up there. This afternoon we had a look around Arusha, the town where we are staying and had lunch with our local Guide Daniel. Much more colour, hustle and bustle on the streets, compared to our ordered Western lives.
Tonight we make our final preparations and pack our duffles to leave for the start of our Kilimanjaro climb tomorrow. Exciting times.
We have received word that our team has reached The Roof of Africa: the summit of Kilimanjaro‘s Uhuru Peak (5895 m / 19,341 ft)! Congratulations team!
The team checked-in after they returned from the summit to Kosovo camp. They were packing up camp and starting the descent to Mweka camp (3075 m / 10,090 ft). Big day! First ascending 1025 meters of elevation to the summit and then descending a massive 2820 meters (9,252 ft) down to camp for the night. Whew!
Tomorrow they will have the comfortable hike down to the Mweka Gate (1638 m / 5,375 ft). Where they will arrive in time for a lunch-time celebration. From there it’s on to a 4-day safari of the three major game parks of Tanzania: the Tarangire, the mighty Serengeti, and the beautiful Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Our Kilimanjaro team is ready for summit day! Today they completed their eastern traverse of Kilimanjaro and climbed up to the high camp, known as Kosovo camp. Kosovo camp is our special high camp that rarely sees use by other climbers. It sits 210 meters above the traditional, and frequently very crowded, Barafu high camp. Using this higher camp puts us in a position above most other climbing parties, so that our summit day is shorter and we can get out ahead of any potential crowds at the start.
By now our team should be just about ready to begin their “alpine start” in the very early morning hours. With the right steady and slow ascent to manage the altitude, they should reach Stella Point (5750 m) just in time for a once-in-a-lifetime African sunrise.
Stay tuned for the next update!
(photo: view of Mawenzi peak (5149 m) from Kosovo camp from the Madison Mountaineering archives)
Karanga Camp! This morning the Kilimanjaro team climbed “the Breakfast Wall” (aka the Great Barranco Wall), a nice challenge to start the day and get the body warmed up for a nice day of trekking. The top of the Barranco Wall (4240 m / 13,911 ft) provides spectacular views of the plains far below.
From there, the team descended into the Karanga valley. Then up a final hill to the Karanga Camp (4043 m / 13,264 ft). Total hiking for the day was about four hours. Everyone is doing very well and having a great time!
All of the team are excited about reaching the high camp of Kosovo (4870 m / 15,978 ft) tomorrow just above the Barafu Camp to get ready for the summit attempt on the following day!!
Our January Kilimanjaro climb kicked off a few days ago and the team is doing great and feeling strong! They entered the National Park at the Machame Gate (1814 m / 5,950 ft) on the first day and they hiked through the tropical rain forest climate zone up to Machame camp at 3022 m (9,915 ft). Their 4,000 ft. elevation gain crossed into the heath climate zone. The heath zone is typically covered by heavy mists and marked with rolling meadows, heath plants, and many small wild flowers. A fantastic start to the trek to the roof of Africa!
On the second day they continued to climb through the heath zone and into the moorlands to Shira camp (3833 m / 12,575 ft). Yesterday was the third day of hiking and the start of the three-day west to east traverse of the mountain. In the morning, they climbed up to the Lava Tower at 4655 m (15,272 ft) for lunch and stunning views of the Western Breach route. In the afternoon, the team descended to Barranco camp (3981 m / 13,060 ft), where they got their first views of the Great Barranco wall – today’s crux!
Lead guide, Sid Pattison, provides this expedition recap of summit day:
Well another great Kilimanjaro trip is in the books, our entire team summited at 6:45am on August 4th. It was a cold morning but we all kept moving and stayed warm. The sun crested the horizon as we made our final steps to Uhuru Peak, the third and highest of Kilimanjaro’s three summits.
Getting here had been a great trip through the many wonders that Kili has to offer. As we started in the rain forest on the lower flanks of the mountain we ate lunch with monkeys playing above our heads, curious as to what brings us here. The next day, as we climbed up and out of the thick jungle into the stunted trees of the Erica zone, this zone allowed us gorgeous views across the mid flanks of the mountain and up to the summit! This would be our first view of the mountain, from the mountain. There was a palatable shift as we gazed up at how much we had to climb. Undaunted and undeterred the team pushed on, through the hidden moorlands, up to the Lava tower to acclimatize and past Barafu camp to the higher Kosovo Camp. From here we prepared for our midnight rise and early morning summit.
We rose at 11pm on August 3rd and quietly readied ourselves for a big day. Bags packed, boots tied, headlamps ready we were off. Up we went, switch-backing our way up the mountain, rock and scree gave way to snow and ice as we approached Stella Point, where our crew looked across the crater, standing above and across from Africas only glaciers. From Stella Point the crew had to dig deep to finish the final 1.5 hour climb across the crater rim. Together we climbed slowly but surely, “Pole Pole” (pronounced ‘Polay Polay’ it means slowly, slowly in Swahili) as our African guides would say to the summit. Upon arrival hugs were shared, handshakes of appreciation and ultimate feelings of satisfaction. The funny thing about any summit is that always accompanying these feelings is the tempering understanding that we are only half way, we still must get down, and it generally isn’t easy.
As we made our way down from the summit, back to Stella point we watched people digging hard like we had just been doing, their slow steps, the looks in their eyes telling the story of giving everything the have hoping the summit comes soon. After Stella Point, in the sun we shed layers, drank water were finally able to relax a bit before the final descent to camp. As we walked back into camp our staff sang and congratulated us on our climb. We relaxed and drank cold juice. It was then time for the big 18km, 10,000ft descent. Pulling into the Mweka gate at 6:00, we were greeted by many of our staff.
Today my legs are sore but I’m always happy to have another successful climb under my belt. Thanks again to our local staff of guides, porters and cook staff. They really do a great job and make the experience on the mountain amazing!
Head guide Sid Pattison reports:
Karanga, meaning “peanut”, seems to undersell this camp. Big views all the way down to the plains below and the towering Kilimanjaro above.
Since leaving Machame Gate we have trekked through rain forest, arid dry lands, hidden moorlands and scrambled up the Baranco Wall. Today at 4000 m / 13,220 ft. the crew is feeling good, eating well and staying hydrated as we prepare for our summit bid tomorrow night after our morning hike to our high camp: Kosovo Camp (4860 m / 15,950 ft.).
Our local staff has been endlessly helpful and entertaining. There really is no comparison when it comes to how committed these guys are to this mountain and helping us along our journey to the roof of Africa.
Wish us luck for a clear and pleasant summit day!
Head guide, Sid Pattison reports:
Welp, we are on our way! After a full day of gear checking, packing, shopping and putsing around Arusha, we are finally on our way to Machame gate!
The crew is psyched, our local staff have been amazing and we are excited to get some miles under our boots!
The Madison Mountaineering Climb for Conservation team reached the top of Kilimanjaro yesterday with 100% success, all 12 members stood on the summit with amazing views over Tanzania! Not only did we climb the highest mountain in Africa, we climbed for conservation to raise awareness and funds for the critically endangered Rhinos of Tanzania. The team raised close to $10,000 with the non-profit Climb for Conservation to be donated to the Mkomazi Rhino Sanctuary. Before the climb, the team spent a day visiting the Sanctuary. We look forward to more climbs for conservation in the future!
Yesterday our Climb for Conservation Kilimanjaro team met in Moshe and is making final preparations for our trek up Africa’s highest peak, Kilimanjaro 19,340′. This climb is a fundraiser for the non profit Climb for Conservation, so we made a trip to the Rhino sanctuary just a couple of hours away to observe a few Rhinos and other animals in their native habitat. After our day trip to see the Rhinos we returned to our hotel and completed a gear check and then had a team dinner.