We could probably write a novel about our experience, but we’ll try to hit all the highlights of the trip. If you don’t have time to read our entire post, here is the take away: We all made it to the summit and had an incredible experience 🙂
There were 14 crew for the 3 of us climbers. It was pretty incredible how much the porters were able to carry up the mountain and how helpful everyone was. We give all the credit of our summit success to our wonderful guides and the hard-working porters who carried our gear up the mountain. We truly couldn’t have done it without them. The basic schedule we followed during our 8 days included waking up around 6:30am, packing up our sleeping pads/bags and all other gear in the tent and eating breakfast around 7:30, which consisted of porridge, eggs, toast, sausage, and fresh fruit. We left to hike around 8 or 8:30am and usually arrived at camp around 2pm. If it was a longer day, we would bring a packed lunch, and if it was a shorter day, we would have a warm lunch waiting for us when we arrived at camp. The food was incredible! We were all impressed with what the chef was able to whip up on the mountain. After arriving at camp, we would usually have some down time before dinner. We napped if we could, or played an intense game of cards 🙂 We had tea/coffee/hot chocolate around 5pm and ate dinner around 6pm. Dinner usually consisted of rice with a vegetable sauce and soup. After dinner, our guide would complete a health check for the three of us. He checked our oxygen levels and heart rate using a finger monitor and asked if we were experiencing any of the symptoms of altitude sickness, like dizziness or nausea. All three of us were very lucky to experience little to no symptoms of altitude sickness for the majority of the climb (summit day was a bit different). After our health check we would usually retire to our tents and fall asleep around 8pm. The nights were very cold on the mountain, especially as we gained elevation. Here’s a summary of our hikes leading up to summit day.
August 13th. Day 1: Left Lemosho gate after lunch and hiked 4 hours through the rainforest to the first camp at Big Tree.
August 14th. Day 2: Hiked 6 hours out of the rainforest and camped at Shira One.
August 15th. Day 3: Hiked 2 hours through the Shira Cathedral to the Shira Summit and then 2 hours to Shira Two.
August 16th. Day 4: Hiked to 3 hours to Lava Tower (15,190ft) then 1.5hrs to Barranco Camp.
August 17th. Day 5: Hiked the Barranco Wall (Breakfast Wall) in the morning. This section of the climb was the most technical and required scrambling on our hands and feet up the rock face. Continued about 3 hours down into Karanga Camp. This was the last camp with water supply. Our porters carried water up to the next camp in advance for us.
August 18th. Day 6: Short morning hike to reach Barafu Base Camp. After lunch, we tried to sleep the rest of the day because we would be starting our ascent to the summit at midnight.
Summit Day: We woke up around 11pm and had tea in preparation for our midnight climb. At this point, we were tired, excited, and maybe slightly anxious. But, we kept positive thoughts (or tried to) as we gathered our gear and turned on our headlights. Around 12:10am, we began our 6-7 hour summit climb to Uhuru Peak. The first hour wasn’t so bad, but the hours after that blurred together in a mixture of freezing temps and low oxygen. Despite the elements (and with the help of our wonderful guides) we reached Stella Point around 5am. The trail leading up to Stella Point is the steepest part of the summit, so after we reached here, we felt pretty good. We stopped for warm tea brought by Salim (one of our porters). From Stella Point, we had about an hour to the summit. The rest of the trail was not as steep, although still inclined enough to make it an exceptional challenge. It took just about everything we had, but we were able to reach the summit of Uhuru Peak at 6:10am. We were the second group to summit that day. It was a euphoric moment and one we were all glad to be able to share with each other. The views were incredible.
August 19th: After arriving back at base camp, we were able to rest for a couple hours, but then needed to descend to lower altitude. We took the Mweka Route as our descent trail. After our night summit and trek back down to base camp, the 4 hour descent to Mweka Camp was a struggle. We were tired and desperately wanted to sleep, but we continued on until we reached Mweka Camp around 3:00pm. That night after dinner, the porters and guides surprised us with a “Congratulations” cake. The cook made this cake at the camp, which was so impressive. They sang to us and we all shared the delicious celebratory dessert. It was so exciting! Shortly after, we went to our tents to get some well-needed sleep.
August 20th: Our last day on the mountain! We woke up around 7am and started our last descent day around 8am. Before we left, the porters and guides sang us the Kilimanjaro Song and we were able to thank them for all they had done for us over the last 8 days. The last day’s hike was through the beautiful rainforest. We were able to get one last view of the peak we summited the day before. Around 10:30am, we reached to end of the Mweka decent trail and were greeted with lunch and music. We picked up our summit certificates and enjoyed a Kilimanjaro beer. The saying is “If you can’t climb it, drink it!” Fortunately, we were able to do both 🙂
We drove out of Kilimanjaro National Park and back to the office of our mountain outfitter (Moshi Expeditions and Mountaineering), we distributed the gear we brought for the porters who were so thankful and said our final good-byes. It was a bittersweet moment leaving our hard-working crew that we had been with for the past week, but knowing we were within minutes of a shower was very exciting 🙂 We returned to our first hotel at Sal Salinero in Moshi to spend our last night in Tanzania.
Overall, this experience was an incredible journey. We had such an amazing time climbing and summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and also getting to know the wonderful people we were surrounded by. Not only our crew of porters and guides, but also the other climbers we met along the trail.
Thank you to everyone who kept us in thoughts and prayers over the last week; we definitely felt the support from our friends and family back home. We’d also like to thank Vision for the Poor/Climb for Sight for making this experience a reality and to everyone who donated to support the cause of our climb.
We wish everyone the peace and happiness we found on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
Asante na kuaga! Thank you and farewell! 🙂