Mt. Kilimanjaro - 19,341'
Mt. Kilimanjaro - 19,341'
|8 day Lemosho route~ The vacation route|
Here is my tread about gear and other questions I had before we left.
I want to start by saying this was our first time leaving the USA other than to Mexico and Jamaica, and our first big mountain trip together. I learned so much on this trip about travel and spending time in another country.
We booked this trip back in Aug. 2018, Leaving plenty of time to train and get gear ready for our March 15-22, 2019 climb. This was also a trip to celebrate our 10th Wedding anniversary that will happen on May 9th, but you do not want to be on this mountain during rainy season. We picked March because it was “off Season”. Many people choose to climb June-Sept and I did not want to be with a lot of people, also that is busy season for husband and I at work and the bosses would not be happy with us being gone for 2.5 weeks then. I know we took a gamble taking the last climb before rainy season but it worked out for us, it only rained twice on the mountain, I will get into that later. There were also a lot less people climbing I was told, but if you ask me the camps were still pretty full and noisy, I can only imagine it during peak season.
We booked the trek and Safari with Ahsante tours, they picked us up at the airport, booked the hotel (they own it) and did all the transfers from the hotel to mountain to hotel to safari and back to airport.
Here is a link to our route, with the mileage and quoted times it will take to hike each day.
It was great to not have to think about any of the trip stuff once we got there, we just had to show up. They were a great company to use and I would recommend them. The Porters seems well taken care of the whole time on the mountain, it is incredible what they do up there!
I took my InReach so family and friends could track our route on the mountain and I hear it worked great for them, I wish I would have had it updating more then every 2hrs but I had no idea what the bill might be if I did do shorter times. Turns out it only cost an extra $14 for all the tracking.
We flew in Wed afternoon, got settled in and booked a cycling tour for Thur. after 2 days of flying I wanted to stretch my legs before the climb. We ended up riding for 5hrs and we burned to a crisp at 1000ft of elevation, we put sunscreen on too late, this would haunt us on the climb…. I love this way of sight seeing and would say to check it out. We met with our guide and did gear check that afternoon, he was impressed that we had everything we needed, I told him we are from CO and hike there. We also found out that we were the only 2 on the trek!!!! So I talked to him about routes because there are a few side options and I wanted to see if we could do any of them since it was just us, he said lets see how it goes on the mountain.
We were picked up early on Friday for our drive to the gate, it was about 3.5hrs from Moshi. We checked in at the main gate and waited for all the porters to have their bags weighted, we were over weight and had to pick a porter up outside the gate. That brought our team of porters to 10, including the guides and our cook. Our personal bags could not weigh more then 33lbs, we had 90L REI duffle bags lined with compactor bags that held up well. We then packed back up and drove 30min to the Lemosho gate. It was around noon at this point and we were the first team on trail, something that would be the case for most days on the mountain. We weighed our own bags and Ken was at 20lbs and I was at 25lbs, including our 3L of water they made sure we had on us daily, we never drank more then 1.5L on trail, finishing the water off at camp every day. What was to take us 4hrs to camp we did in 2hrs, at a pace that was pretty slow, we only stopped for lunch. Big Tree camp was nice, its the only camp other then the last night that you are in trees. There were monkeys around and boy were they noisy at night, they also got into the trash our porters did not put away. We would make it to camp early every day, beating the “normal” time posted that it would take. By the end of the 2nd day our guide finally believed us when I kept telling them we are climbers and have been training. Really made we wonder what kind of people they are normally dealing with as they were impressed by our pace and overall feeling great every day.
Every day you check into camp at the ranger station so there is a log of where you are, there was one 64yr old guy named Lance, we would be just behind him every day. I have no idea when he started in the morning as we never saw him leave or on trail!
Day 2, we had a good elevation climb, 5hrs of hiking and views to keep you busy. It really was a change to leave the forest onto the plateau. Keep your eyes open for little critters, we found this guy!
Day 3, Detour #1- Shria 1 to Shria 2 camp
This trail has 2 routes, the main shorter one, or the other that takes you to Cathedral point, take option 2, the views are so worth it, you have added elevation gain, you have some trail fun, its only like 2.5miles longer and less time at camp! BUT start early, I do not know if it was just the time we were there but the clouds came in around 10:30-11am EVERYDAY, and once that happens your views are GONE, Kili mountain view no more till about 6-7pm. It was this night that we started our altitude medication because we would be hitting 15,223ft the next day.
Shria 1 sunrise
Another 5hr day hiking. We have been cold in our sleeping bags the last 2 nights sleeping, see gear list, we brought good bags. First time I have slept with hot water bottles and that saved us the rest of the nights on the mountain. We hit our first high point today at Lava tower, 15,223ft. Mt. Elbert has been our highest point up to this. We had slight on and off headaches leading up to it once we passed the 14k mark, but once we dropped down to lower elevation we were fine. Lava tower to Barranco camp was one of my favorite sections of trail, even though we were walking in the clouds the vegetation was really cool.
on the way to lave tower
Barranco wall day, by far the most fun of the whole trek, got to do some scrambling and were held up behind the porters, they made it look easy carrying all that stuff up till someone almost lost a basked down the wall…. But man the views on top of the wall, closest we had been to the peak. At this point we have been spending a lot of time around 13k feet and we are still feeling good. We had a drop down and a wall to go back up in order to get to the Karanga camp, my least liked camp. It was on a hill, really barren and dusty.
top of wall
Down and back up to Karanga camp
The Mpowerd light we bought has now really pissed me off, the solar charger is not charging enough to charge our phones, it only works as a light and the plastic snap has broken so it does not hang in the tent anymore, only equipment fail of the trip. Porters lent us a power bank to charge our phones, the one I did bring we used up already.
The 2nd short day of the trip, only took us 2hrs to get to Barafu camp, base camp! Best cell coverage on the large boulder across from the ranger station near the smelly bathrooms. My sister was giving me shit through text asking me what I was gonna do the rest of the day since we got there so early, I said I was gonna BREATH at 15,223ft for the next 11hrs. we tried to rest, walked around camp in the clouds, packed our bags for summit day and I was reminded again to make my bag lighter….we had lunch and then dinner at 5pm then rest for our midnight wake up. This was the first night it really rained on us, we were resting in the tent anyways, rain at 15k ft weird.
Summit day. On trail at 1:15am, most start between 11am-midnight. Based on our speed leading up to this we thought we could start later. 5hrs up to Stella point, just in time for sunrise! We did not get much food before starting, some biscuit cookies with peanut butter, had I known that I would have eaten more in the tent. The rain that night left a fresh dusting of snow on the mountain for us. Ken had some stomach issues around 16k ft and the guide took his bag to make sure he made the summit, Ken was not alone, MOST people heading up that we passed did not have bags on them. I was still lugging my bag up and the other guide kept asking me if I wanted him to take it, finally Ken told him I would never give up my bag! I was really glad that it was just the 2 of us in our group, we kept a steady slow pace up the just over 3k ft gain to Stella point, no breaks. We were then able to pass some large groups who took a lot of breaks heading up. The sun rising and shining on the glaciers was breathtaking, 40min later we were hugging on the summit!!!! WE MADE IT!!!! Not much of a wait for our picture, spent about 20-30min up there and headed back down. Our guide told us during busy season you can be up there for a hour waiting for a picture. Now that the sun was up and it was “warmer” I took out my camera and took my time walking back to Stella point taking a zillion photos and encountering a lot of sick looking people on their way to the summit. Took me 8h20m RT from camp, my husband I think got down 30min before me but like I said I was not rushing and taking a ton of pics, and still passing people on the way down. Porters were starting to climb the mountain to retrieve hikers on the way down that were having issues.
For summit day I wore more layers then I might have needed. Bottoms- I had ¾ wool baselayer with my North Face expedition weight fleece pants, OR trailblazer pants and RAB gaiters, normal hiking boots, darn tough mountaineer socks. Top- LS baselayer, R1, RAB puffy, glove liners and OR mittens. Head- R1 hood and jacket hood. I was hot at the start of the climb, pant zippers open, but then the wind picked up, zippers closed and my toes and my hands got cold but only till the sun came up, then I was ok. I was sweating on the way down, shedding everything on the upper layer. I also had an extra fleece and softshell jacket the guide wanted me to bring in my bag i never used.
Once back at camp we ate, changed and packed up to head to low camp. I did not want to rest to long as I would just crash. I headed back out with my converted Prana pants that zip at the knees, and a tee-shirt, It was warm. We spent most our time between pants and converted pants with tees, LS on top, then a LS and soft shell then a LS an puffy. Afternoons were chilly at camp with the clouds, I was not expecting that.
We left base camp around 11:30am and headed to low camp, Mweka camp. About an hour out from camp the skies opened up on us. I got to use my rain gear I have had for years for the first time and it worked, we were then hailed on, the trail turned into a river and there was thunder! We were descending over 9kft from the summit to camp and walking downhill in a stream is no fun, our pace slowed in the bad weather. Made it to camp in 2.5hrs from base camp and had to wait for them to set up as it was still raining, what should have been a fun afternoon of celebrating turned into drying out gear and smelling really bad now that we were wet! If I had known we should have just walked out to the main gate, it was only 2.5hrs away and we could have been back to the hotel and showered! If you were looking to shorten the 8 days to 7 just do it here and hike from summit to end gate.
Had my best night sleep, packed up for the last time, had our last meal, gave a gift to our one porter who was amazing and we hiked out. Took 8 days but I fell on my ass on trial because of the slick mud, almost made it out with out a fall. We had a really short day and before we knew it we were done, signing out for the last time and enjoying the best tasting coke I have ever had!
I called this the vacation route because that’s what it felt like, it is the longest route you can take on the mountain and everyday was really an easy trek (if you are conditioned) we never were sore until day 8, that down climb did a number on us! The porters and guides took great care of us, every morning we were given warm water to wash up with and hot tea (or coffee/hot chocolate) in our tent. They feed you so much, and it was good for mountain food! We never finished all the food they gave us, but I know it was being eaten by them so it was not wasted. On top of the 3 large meals a day we always had afternoon tea and snack between lunch and dinner, hot water and your pick of drink and fresh popcorn and or nuts. They also gave us snickers in our packed lunch we never ate all of them and biscuit cookies, they had these queen cake muffins that were so good. We had chicken or eggs with most meals since I did not eat red meat or pork. They even made 2 cakes while we were on the mountain! I packed to many snacks and never ate much of it. If you are a chocolate person bring some. We did rent the toilet and it was the best investment, just do it.
We packed a pack of 72 baby wipes and left with some left. I used panty liners and they worked great to keep things fresh. We did treat our water on the mountain if it was cold, the boiled water we did not treat. We pack sneakers for camp it was great to change into them. We used a ton of hand sanitizer, maybe 3 of the small spray ones sprouts sells. The Nuun tablets were great for the water.
Tipping was something i was still figuring out on the hike, i had talked to the office person about it because on their website they list tipping notes and say it is per group not per climber, but the office person was telling me it was per person.....i brought a ton of cash and had it all broken out before we left Denver but still moved around what each person got in the end. Between Ken and I we tipped a total of $640 about 14% of the cost of the trek for each of us. You will need more cash then you think you will, i still had to find an ATM to get money to pay for things. We also brought gifts for the porters, i got an 8 pack of socks at costco, some shorts Ken did not want any more, a nalgene bottle, and some wicking shirts i picked up at the thrift store, they were so happy!
Other then the stuff i packed in the link at the top this is what we packed to wear most days
Pants: 2 convertibles, 1 mountaineering, ¾ wool base layer, heavy weight fleece, yoga pant for camp & 1 rain pant.
Shirts: 2 Short, 1 short cotton for camp, 3 LS (one with hood), 2 fleece
Socks: 3 darn tough hiking, 1 DT Mountaineering
I never used the no rinse shampoo or body wash or towel, as it was just to cold most afternoons to even think of shedding layers. We also never used the pee bottles we brought since the toilet we rented was close and never that cold at night to not leave the tent. Our spikes were not used or the hand or feet warmers, they did not work at 15k. We also did not eat most of our trail snacks.
Here are videos of each camp and summit
EDIT: One thing i forgot to add was our training, as i know that is always a question. We had a really snowy winter in CO so i did not get on as many high peaks as i wanted to because it was storming almost every weekend. We did Sherman in Jan and i did La Plata early Feb. We then stuck to front range hikes and we hiked every weekend, the last month leading up to it we hiked both Sat and Sun. as well as our normal training in the gym. We loaded our bags to about 25lbs each outing and made sure we were gaining over 1500ft each hike and at least over 3hrs RT each time. I was worried about not training at high altitude but it did not seem to effect us on the mountain. Good cardio training i think is a must for this, and being used to at least a 20lb pack.
Because it was request, here are some Safari pictures from Tarangire NP and Ngorongoro Crater
Thanks for reading!
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