via the Umbwe / Western Breach Ascent
and Barafu / Mweka Descent Routes
Note: If you are looking for the main trip report of our climb, this isn't it! Click here
if you are looking for the trip report of our climb. The trip report also contains interactive maps that have many more picture points than the ones in this section.
is a huge stratovolcano in East Africa. At 19,340 feet, it rises
more than 16,000 feet above the surrounding plains, and is the
highest point on the entire continent. Kilimanjaro is but one
of a series of volcanoes associated with the Great Rift Valley.
The Great Rift Valley is a thousands-of-kilometres long feature
associated with a young tectonic spreading zone (also known as
a rift) that underlies east Africa. Some current theories suggest
that the Great Rift Valley will ultimately cease spreadiing and
not form into a new ocean. In any
case, Kilimanjaro is a volcano that has been formed as a by-product
of this spreading zone.
easiest routes, Kilimanjaro is not a particularly technical mountain.
In fact, via the easiest routes of all, you will not ever have
to use your hands for climbing - it can be done entirely 'on
a trail'. There are also much more difficult routes that involve
long, hard, technical alpine climbing. At no time on any of the
easiest routes will you need to do any glacier travel. Kilimanjaro's
glaciers, while still magnificent to look at, do not encircle
the summit, and can easily be bypassed.
weather on Kilimanjaro is relatively mild for a such a high-altitude
peak. Even up to 15 or 16,000 feet, the temperature does not
drop much below freezing at night. On the summit it can be cold,
but nothing worse than your average winter day in northern latitudes.
The summit can easily be around the freezing point on a nice
calm day. Having said this, mountain weather is subject to severe
change, and in a storm the top of Kilimanjaro is a nasty place
to be. Proper cold winter gear with synthetic clothing is a must.
There are many sources of information on proper clothing for
such conditions. Consult them!
is an excellent way for you to test your compatibility with very
high altitude. It is an easy climb in all other respects. However,
because of the altitude, it MUST be treated with respect. Take
extra days to acclimatize. KNOW the signs of the various types
of altitude sickness for yourself - don't rely solely on the
guide. Simple AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is uncomfortable
but does not require you to terminate your climb. However, the
more serious conditions of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema)
and, even worse, HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) must be attended
to immediately by descent to lower altitudes. Please refer to the
proper texts for full details on the signs and symptoms of each
of these conditions.
is located on the border between Tanzania and Kenya. The majority
of the mountain is in Tanzania, although some of its lower northern
slopes are in Kenya.
first thing you must do is get to the base of the mountain. The
second thing you must do is hire a guide (this generally means
porters, too). This is required by the rules of Kilimanjaro National
Park. I won't go into the details here, because my account of
the arrangements that needed to be made is already documented
in excessive detail on the 'trip preparations' portion of this
page. Click here
look at that page.
The Campsites on the routes described on this page vary in character, but share
a variety of features. Namely: a) there are no designated campspots, per
se. There is a general camping area at each location, and you find a spot
that you find suitable. b) there are several outhouses at every campsite; you
are allowed to put your TP down the hole, too. c) none of the campsites along
these routes have 'huts' for climbers. All of these campsites are tent-only.
Ok. I've finished with my pre-climb-description duties. Click 'next page' to move on to a description of the actual climb!