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A happy team at the end of the climb

Our Kilimanjaro team has returned to Arusha after coming all the way down from a great summit climb and is getting ready for their safari.  Here’s lead guide, Rob Smith, with the details of the day:

After our summit yesterday we returned to Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978ft) and had a couple of hours to rest, eat and drink, and then pack up. We hiked downhill for 3 hours to reach Millennium Camp (3820m/12,530ft) and were glad to reach it. Another early start this morning at 5 am, though practically a lie-in compared to our summit bid, saw us on our final day of Kilimanjaro. We dropped altitude and made our way from Alpine Desert to Moorland to Rainforest.

 

We were lucky enough to see Black and White Colobus Monkeys leaping from branch to branch high in the tree canopy. When we reached Mweka Gate (1638m/5,375ft), our exit point, we received a welcome that had everyone there looking on. The singing and dancing were well worth the effort that the team made over the last 7 days, and was a fitting end to our Kilimanjaro climb. So now we are back in Arusha before driving West tomorrow to Tarangire National Park, to begin the Safari.

 

Today’s Swahili:  Congratulations. Hongera  —  Brother. Kaka — Sister. Dada

Descending into the tree line

Our welcome at Mweka Gate

A happy team at the end of the climb

Kilimanjaro Summit!

From Kilimanjaro, lead guide Rob Smith shares the happy news:

The sunrise was beautiful and gave respite from the previous hours of climbing in the darkness. Each of us in a pool of light from our headlamps, steadily climbing up the loose rock and scree. The faintest of light on the horizon, grew larger and brighter, transforming through a range of orange, red and pink hues. We reached Stella Point on the edge of the crater rim at 18,800′, and stopped for a hot drink and some shelter from the wind. From there the slope was less steep and dawn made the route finding easier. As the sun rose higher it cast a huge shadow of Kilimanjaro onto the clouds below. It put our presence on the side of the mountain, nearing its summit, into perspective. We reached the top at 6.45am, after a harder than expected climb for some. Kilimanjaro might often be referred to as a to trek, but its 19,341′ should not be underestimated.

 

Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak, is a beautiful mountain that allowed us to step on her summit a few hours ago, giving us memories to last a lifetime.

The shadow of Kilimanjaro at dawn

Kilimanjaro Summit!

Resting up for the big climb

Karanga Camp to Kosovo Camp, the last segment before summit day. The Kili team has now climbed to high camp and will be heading to the summit tonight!  Here’s lead guide Rob Smith with the details:

We reached Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978 ft), our high camp at 12.15pm. For the first time in our trip, we have met successful climbers who have summitted Kilimanjaro. They did so earlier this morning and were pleased to be on their way down, as we continued up past Barafu Camp, where the majority of climbers stay. The extra effort today will give us a shorter summit day tomorrow. So now we rest, and we will have an early dinner before trying to catch a few hours sleep. Tomorrow begins at midnight, quite literally, as we will get up and prepare to leave at 1am. So wish us luck and tune in tomorrow for an update.

 

Today’s Swahili: Tabasamu – smile

On the way to Kosovo Camp

Resting up for the big climb

Our high point of the day

Kilimanjaro lead guide, Rob Smith, details the team’s day moving from Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp, including the ascent of the “Breakfast Wall”:

We were awake at 5am in preparation to climb the Barranco Wall. It was a chilly morning. If we were lacking motivation, it came in heaps, from an impromptu song and dance send-off from our team. Dressed in thick coats and wooly hats, the pace ramped up until Willie threw a cartwheel followed by a backflip. Suitably impressed by his acrobatics, we left camp and were soon at the base of the Barranco Wall. 750′ of rock with a sinuous path worked into it by the passage of climbers. Part scramble, part walk, we made our way to the top. And we were rewarded with emerging into the sun and seeing a sea of cloud beneath us as far as we could see. With the crux of the day behind us, we descended towards Karanga Camp (4029m/13,220ft) with a final steep uphill to pull into camp after 4 hours.

 

Tomorrow we begin the final phase of the trip, as we continue to Kosovo Camp (4870m/15,978ft), our high camp. From there we will begin our summit climb in the early hours of the following morning.

 

Today’s Swahili: Hakuna Matata – No Problem / No Worries.

Kristin climbing the Borranco Wall

Our high point of the day

On the trail above Shira Camp

Kilimanjaro lead guide Rob Smith has this colorful description of the team’s from Shira Camp (3833m/12,575ft) to Barranco Camp (3981m/13,060ft):

Another day of beautiful weather here on Kilimanjaro. Our 6am wake up is becoming the norm, and there are no complaints when the first view is Kilimanjaro casting its shadow onto the clouds below us. The trail climbed steadily from the start, and we rose above the trees to enter a rocky landscape resembling the surface of the moon. This zone of the mountain is clasified as Alpine Desert, and is hugely different from the rainforest we started in. Despite the austere environment, there is some wildlife living here. We saw some 4 striped mice scurrying between the rocks at a rest stop. White collared ravens tustled in the air, as 2 birds locked feet together and tumbled towards the ground before releasing and flying on.

 

After 4.5 hours we reached Lava Tower at 15,000′ where we had an extended stop to take advantage of our height gain. Spending time there should help us sleep tonight as we have dropped in altitude to 13,000′. The trail down passed between Giant Scenecio plants which look like they belong to an older world. We reached Barranco Camp in time to have a look at Barranco Wall, a rock feature we will climb tomorrow. We are all in good spirits and are looking forward to the challenge tomorrow.

Passing Giant Scenecios

Passing Giant Scenecios

On the trail above Shira Camp

Happy to reach Shira Camp

Meanwhile on Kilimanjaro, here’s lead guide Rob Smith with today’s progress report of moving from Machame Camp to Shira Camp:

We have had a beautiful day today on Kilimanjaro, moving up the mountain.

 

We awoke at 6am in the shade but in good weather. By 8am we were moving up the steep rocky trail above our campsite. The landscape changed from the dense rainforest we were in yesterday, as we passed through sparser trees and vegetation. Birdsong rang out and porters could be heard singing at the camp we had just left. A thick blanket of cloud lay over the plain below us. Higher up we reached sunlight and the temperature rose. We would crest a ridge to see another in front, with glimpses of Kilimanjaro through the trees.

 

Scrambling in places we finally reached out high point after 5 hours, and had a clear view of the mountain, its wide crater rim now visible. A quick walk downhill brought us to Shira Camp (3833m/12,575 ft), where we were greeted with harmonious singing from our porters. Tonight we will be sleeping at 12,500′ so we are making good height gain. A beautiful sunset and a very fine meal rounded off our day!

 

Today’s Swahali:  Mambo – What’s up? Poa – Cool.

Sunset at Shira

Sunset at Shira

Happy to reach Shira Camp

Happy to reach Shira Camp

Welcome to Kilimanjaro

Lead guide Rob Smith provides the Kilimanjaro expedition kick-off dispatch from Arusha, Tanzania:

Welcome to the Climb for Conservation Kilimanjaro trip guided by Madison Mountaineering.

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.

John, Jaclyn, local guide Daniel and Kristin explore Arusha

John, Jaclyn, local guide Daniel and Kristin explore Arusha

Everyday traffic in Tanzania

Everyday traffic in Tanzania

Approaching the summit of Kilimanjaro

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.

The view of Mawenzi peak (5149 m) from Kosovo camp.

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 on Kilimanjaro

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!!