Trip Report The hunt for snow in Africa (Kilimanjaro).

LMB

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The TL;DR version:
Went to Tanzania, climbed Kilimanjaro, had a ball, would do it again.

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PB and I had been planning a trek to Kili for a while, but with a few personal and business issues swirling about we only committed 3 weeks out from departure.

I wasn’t 100% confident that my fitness would be all there for the trip, although I’d worked hard to come back from a big abdominal surgery in May, but PB is the fittest he has been in his life so I resolved to give it 110% of effort regardless.

The resulting hurried immunisation schedule was awful. I’d recommend taking your time and not getting 10 needles in 3 weeks including quite a few combo vaccines in the one shot and a few live virus vaccines. Yellow Fever vaccination for example is a one time lifetime certified cover, if you haven’t had it and even consider going to Africa in the future, just get that one ticked off.

We booked through Adventure Consultants but it was outsourced so our trekking company was Nature Discovery - I’d highly recommend them for anyone wishing to tackle Kilimanjaro. They are a professional, highly experienced and well trained outfit.
https://www.naturediscovery.com

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Our group numbered 5 trekkers, PB and myself, an early 40s solo male with trekking/altitude experience (who PB had a total bromance with!) and an early 30s newly married couple from the US. We had 3 guides and 31 porters between us. It’s quite the logistical operation!

We took all of our own gear, however the others had various locally hired items supplied by the guide company and the equipment was excellent quality - so if you wanted to hire things like trekking poles and sleeping bags/mats to save luggage space, it is certainly possible.

Prior to departure our head guide, Sam, met with us all and discussed options that varied from the original booking. The biggest one being a day ascent instead of a night ascent. Apparently most people try to summit during the night so they are standing on the top of Africa by sunrise. But the failure rate is high. It is freezing, there is nothing to look at except your torch light on the feet of the person in front of you, and stops for bush pees or “sippy sippy” must be kept super short for risk of hypothermia. A lot of people simply give up through despair. We all agreed that we would trust our guide and go with a day summit that meant starting to climb from Kibo base camp at 4am, so only 2hrs of dark. And after 2 hours we stopped to drink/eat and watch the beautiful sunrise from part way up the switchbacks. It’s no less impressive a sight part way up, than at the top, rising to accentuate Mawenzi Peak.

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Our route was officially “Shira Route” an 8 day hike giving a decent amount of time for altitude acclimatisation. A reasonable consideration for sea level dwellers, untested over 4500m ASL, however we started at the Lemosho Gate, and trekked to Shira 1, through the Shira Plateau, Shira Camp 2, Moir Camp, Third Cave Camp and Kibo Base Camp. Ascent was to Gilmans Point on the Crater Rim, then to Stella Point and on to the summit at Uhuru Peak.

(Stella Point was where we would return to to head down to Barafu Base Camp and descend via Mweka Route. It was the spot we needed to get to before evacuation if we wanted to come back down with our group, otherwise we would be evacuated the way we came).

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Our journey to Base Camp was 5 days, we started out at about 3500m ASL on the first day and the problems started to hit for our newly wed male soon after. A fit guy who ran the NY Marathon, he struggled with acute mountain sickness even at relatively low elevations and also with his endurance, from day two he had to engage a porter to carry his pack. It rammed home for me that climbing Kili is not all beer and skittles.

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Early morning calls in the dark, first light strike outs and walking for between 3 and 7 hours depending on the day and terrain and time we made. There were no “technical” aspects to this trek, no need for rock anchors or abseiling equipment or being roped on, but that didn’t mean it was a walk in the park. There was a lot of loose scree and quite a bit of bouldering involved most days. And all uphills were tackled “pole pole” (slowly slowly) to help with acclimatisation and save something in the tank for the ascent day. We fluctuated altitude up and down to get the hike high, sleep low benefit. The advantages of the route we took was being able to spend time at altitude while trekking around the mountain, not being too busy until we merged with other routes near the base camp and getting amazing views into Kenya. It also gave our guides the ability to test us on various terrain, at various hiking speeds etc to test and see our physical abilities.

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LMB

Old but definitely not Crusty!
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We took Diamox to help with potential Altitude sickness, particularly in light of my lupus/asthma issues. The tingling in feet and hands was intense, but no other negative side effects. I’d take it again. I was also drinking that mushroom coffee stuff that’s supposed to help with your VO2max - any leg up eh?

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There were upgrade options available (and downgrade but not on the trek we booked). We didn’t book any, however the honeymooners went all out. Flushing portaloo, hot shower tent, and a deluxe tent that PB called the Taj Mahal. When we realised the other 3 were all in on the loo and shower we also committed to share the cost, so our trip got a little more luxurious than anticipated. It was well worth the extra dollars. The shower tent could not be used at either base camp (too cold and too far from water to make it practical) so there were 2 nights it was a baby wipes wash. However the shower (no matter how chilly) to wash away the days dust and sunscreen was absolutely divine on the other trekking days. It was just a bush camp shower in a shower tent, but it did the trick!

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The loo is also a big plus. Bush #2s are frowned upon and Nature Discovery encourage “leave no trace” trekking, sadly not all Kili trekkers are as diligent and any spot tucked behind a rock up high on the hill is just horrendous. At all campsites they have drop dunnies. They are squat style holes in the ground (small holes!) that were once long drops, but not so long any more if you get my meaning. They are worse than taking a bush visit (referred to as “look the/chase the or find the monkey”). So having a private toilet tent that a porter maintains and empties into these drop loos is a luxury worth paying extra for. And you’re giving someone a job for a week, that’s no small thing in such an impoverished nation.


However none of the luxuries help you get to the summit! You can certainly go without them.

Prior to ascent day we had a meeting and discussed our approach. It was decided we would go as a team, like a family. Give everyone the best opportunity of making it together, and not split the group. This has positives and negatives. It could’ve been any one of us effected by altitude or hurt or exhausted, so it was comforting to know that the group wasn’t going to ditch you. However it made for an insanely long day as we spent a lot of the day waiting for those who were battling. And that took its own toll.

Safety was paramount and if our guides thought we had moderate AMS we knew we were going to be evacuated. They carried a pulse oximeter, stethoscope, oxygen and portable hyperbaric chamber with us at all times all the way to the summit! This was not common. Many other companies do not have all this gear, nor the knowledge to use them. The oxygen was not a climbing aid, if it was administered you were on your way down. Pulse oximeter readings were taken every evening after dinner during the briefing, and recorded on a health form. Our guides had to help a few people from other groups on the way up and the way down, and had a few stern words to some cowboy guides for endangering their people.

At Kibo basecamp the night before our ascent the newlyweds oxygen readings were 50 and low 70s. The men low 80s, the one guide who tested his for giggles was 95 and me - the oldest in the group - 97% oxygen saturation. PB keeps teasing me that I’ll be applying for positions as a Sherpa on Everest next year. Despite a saturation of 50% the newlywed was self described as feeling ok, better than the previous day. It was decided he would climb but with a porter taking his backpack.

For the 5 of us we had 6 guides/porters accompany us to the top. Basically one lead the group, one carried the safety gear and the rest physically assisted the honeymooner. He had mild symptoms of AMS, but was lucid. His biggest issue was physical exhaustion, so they basically hauled him all the way up and down, with the final bit to the descent base camp (Barafu) done on a stretcher.

I was very proud to say that not only did I summit, I carried my own backpack for the entire trip (one of three who did), I didn’t fall over once (one of two who managed to stay on their feet at all times) and I wasn’t holding anyone up. Not a bad effort considering my lead in training was mostly recovering from surgery.

The last 140m ish of vertical gain was where I finally started to feel the effects of being at almost 6000m ASL. I could feel my coordination being a bit off. It was tricky navigating very thin tracks between glaciers (snow monsters), at times a shuffle, at times the width was not even enough for my boot and I had to wrench it free to move foreword - which surprisingly takes a LOT more effort at that altitude!
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It snowed when we made it to Uhuru Peak, the top of Africa. There was something quite lovely about standing at the peak and experiencing the “Snows of Kilimanjaro”, I may have shed a tear.
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But the journey doesn’t end there. The descent is rough. Loads of loose scree and DUST, so much dust! Those who left everything they had on the mountain peak (or before) were massive dangers to themselves and others coming down. We saw so many people in trouble,and often without guides. Go with a company that will make sure you are safe, get the guide ratio right. It’s not worth saving a few bucks to end up dead (and yes, people are still dying on Kili).

They’ve recently invested in a high altitude helicopter that can get to base camp level - that is most definitely saving lives. And it was running hot shuttling people out when we were on the hill.

We came down via the Mweka descent route. Past two helipads and a whole pile of stretcher carts. Not sure I’d like to get carted off the mountain in one of these, there are some rather tricky rocks to navigate on the way down, it’d be a rough and scary ride!

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The very last section on Mweka is natural stairs cut into the path and retained by logs. We were lucky, it was dry. But add a touch of rain and the whole section would be a massive mud slip and slide. Very easy to do some mischief to yourself.

On the final night they hold a tipping ceremony where your group pools their tips (you are given a range with lower and upper tip suggestions) and they are presented. The tips are an essential part of the earnings for these guys, and man do they earn their money! The only problem with this tradition is everyone on the hill knows that every hiker is carrying between $500 and $1000 US Dollars in cash (at least) on them. It’s a temptation that leads to theft, and we were regularly warned to keep your money close. You’re told to carry your money on your person, sleep with it inside your sleeping bag etc, but I’d go one step further - buy a small travel safe and lock that cash away attached to the inside of one of your bags - either the backpack you carry or the duffle your porter carries. Better still split your cash and store half in a travel safe in each. Make it difficult, thieves will always take the easiest option.
 

LMB

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Things I’d do differently.

Toilet paper:

yeah nah, waste of time! Take lots of tissue packs. Toilet paper is bulky and even being a girl needing it for bush wee’s tissues would’ve sufficed/been better. A multipack or two of travel pack Kleenex is the way to go. And quite a few small packs of body wipes also. For the ladies (or men if you’re caught out in the bush) have an opaque bag with your wilderness bathroom basics in it - a pack of tissues, a pack of wipes, hand sanitiser and a ziplock bag to pack out your used items for deposit in the bin at camp that night). Carry the spare packs of tissues and wipes in your duffel (carried by the porter) and replace used with new each night.

Ziplock bags:

I’d take and use more.

I packed my clothing/gear as instructed in big black plastic bin bags for waterproofing but it’s awfully frustrating digging through dark duffles and dark plastic bags for dark clothing items in a dimly lit tent. I’d pack day sets (fresh undies, socks and t-shirt) in their own ziplock bags with the air squished out so they were grab and go, fresh, clean and dry. After they were used they could go in a black plastic bag for dirty laundry, and that ziplock bag can be used for the rubbish/toilet waste for that day. Just a bit more efficiently organised!

Buff:

I had quite a few, and I used them. I wouldn’t change this but it’s one of the recommendations I’d ram home to anyone heading to Kili. The place is seriously dusty, especially on descent. And the dust has a lot of bacteria. I had a full on asthma event the night after climbing from the amount of dust in my lungs and sinuses. So take your asthma meds and steroids (as I did). What I didn’t expect was the bacterial infection in my chest a few days later - but I had prophylactic azithromycin so even that wasn’t an issue. As much as it’s difficult to climb and descend with your mouth and nose covered by a buff (due to low oxygen) it really is worth trying to filter as much of that dust as possible. Maybe a bit of pre trip training with a buff covering your face when you’re puffing and panting would help you get used to the feeling.

Water Bottles:

PB and I followed the packing list to the letter. Three wide mouth Nalgene bottles. But I’d do it differently next time. 3 was usually enough but even the guides recommended 4 litres at times, and we didn’t have it. The others used a camel back even though it wasn’t recommended because of the tube freezing...they had no problems except for the ascent day when it was a simple matter of making sure you blew the water back out of the tube after drinking. And they were able to drink on the go. I had to stop to drink, especially with the wide mouth of the bottle. I’ll be investigating what water options work better for me in future.

Water additives:

We took chlorine tabs and electrolyte tablets as well as effervescent vitamin tablets with nice flavours. We rarely drank unflavoured water as it tasted pretty gross, but I also think the constant intake of electrolytes and vitamins helped us keep fit and well.
Near the top it was touch and go to evacuate our newlywed who was out of water (and had only been drinking plain water) and hadn’t walked under his own steam for an hour or so. The guide quizzes him about electrolytes and found out he had not had any. I gave him my remaining 1/2 litre of water with electrolytes in it, and within 15 minutes he was quite revived and walked under his own strength to the next stop.

Energy snacks:

We were told to bring our favourite energy snacks for ascent day as we were unlikely to want to eat anything at altitude. I didn’t realise how right they would be. And a lot of the snacks I’d normally gravitate to (muesli bars, fruit and nut mixes, cookies) made me want to gag. The hands down best option was Blocks - like a jelly snake but in the form of a block - they were a godsend. I’m sure I’ll never eat them again unless I’m at altitude, but they were the shizz up there!
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Sunscreen:

Definitely needed but next time I’d also bring zinc and plaster it on my face. I’m about as fair as you can get without being Albino and while I managed to avoid being burnt on the trek days, that huge ascent day standing around waiting for people, being out in the wind and sun the entire day dark to dark was just too much. It took a full week of extra care (while we were on Safari) to stop looking like a burn victim - zinc would’ve helped. I’m pleased I had my Cat 4 Julbo sunnies, but even with them my eyes were seriously stinging that night, I wouldn’t be doing the trek without wrap around mountaineering sunnies.

Nighttime Pee Bottle:

I really struggled to pee in the tent, did it once without incident, but the mental challenge against fear of peeing all over my sleeping bag made it preferable to just get up and go to the toilet tent in the middle of the night.

However for the guys (and any women comfortable with a pee bottle) I highly recommend it. Staying warm at night is important, the temperature drops significantly when the sun goes down. It takes a while to get warm inside your sleeping bag again when you return, which robs your sleep. You also disturb your tent mate getting up, climbing over them and unzipping/zipping the tent x both ways. The campsites are also often rocky and sloping, you are often slipping and sliding over scree in the dark and cold with a torch to sit precariously balanced on an uneven loo - campsite down booties did not do the trick at some of the camps - it required putting your boots on.

Don’t underestimate how much you will pee and how often - it’s significant. You’re expected to drink at least a litre of water overnight (to help with adjustment to altitude) and the altitude and diamox ensure that doesn’t stay in your body for long.

What worked best for PB was a collapsible wide mouth Nalgene bottle - and two were needed. We took one each and he was thankful that I found it too stressful to use, as he then had mine to use as well as his own. Just make sure the bottles are VERY different from your drinking bottles and can not be mistaken! The other guys all sacrificed one of their drinking bottles to nocturnal use once they found out about PBs night time advantage. As theirs were the same as drinking bottles there were a few hilarious near misses!

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Accomodation between:

If time was not an object I’d add more nights at a hotel between activities. We had two nights (one day) before the Kili trek at Rivertrees Lodge, that was ok, an extra night would be nice, but not necessary. We came back to Rivertrees after Kili, before flying out to the Serengeti but that one night was a bit rushed. Getting in at about 5pm and leaving at 6am didn’t really give us time to rest, wash wash and more wash to get the Kili dirt gone, not able to get laundry done. Two nights would’ve been better. And the same on return from Safari, we would’ve got all our clothes washed before heading home if we had time to, and that would’ve been good for the local economy and saved me the job when I got home. It would also make transition through customs in Aus easier, as you can confidently say all your clothes have been washed. Although we had no issues and customs took our word for it that we had our boots and trekking poles washed and didn’t buy anything wooden or spices or anything to bring back (all true).
 

LMB

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Flights and African Airports:

Horrendous!
Dar Es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Arusha airports - all as bad as each other. There is no organisation, very little signage that is helpful and you’ll be confused from start to finish. For every job needing doing there are 20 staff standing around doing nothing and one person who can MAYBE help you, maybe not. We took the Hakuna Matata approach to dealing with the airport chaos but it did not help us on our return home.

We booked a 1.30pm flight from Kilimanjaro to Dar Es Salaam giving us a two and a half hour gap to transfer to our international flight in the same building. All fine except no one informed us that the 1.30 flight didn’t exist. We had confirmed booking documents for it, but even when we booked it, it didn’t exist. We were always going on the 4pm flight. The one that landed at the same time as our Emirates flight was pushing back. Awesome, huh?!

PB requested the Air Tanzania agent call Dar Es Salaam Emirates and let them know we wouldn’t make the flight (a note on our file would make it easier to rebook flights when we got there). Sadly even though she went and made a call in view of us, she did not call Emirates, she may have just called her Mum and had a grump about the annoying Aussies. That cost us an extra $800 each for a “no show”, Hakuna Matata!

In future I’ll be getting someone from our hotel or tour company to call the airport to confirm our flights the day before in Swahili so there is no misunderstanding. I’d probably also plan to overnight in Dar Es Salaam just to avoid another potentially stressful situation.

And speaking of Dar Es Salaam, you’ll be mobbed by taxi drivers as you exit the airport (even if you’re just transferring back in). When we had to get a taxi we tried to find a taxi rank and official metered taxis. They don’t exist. No meters. No rank. No official system. Just go with which ever tout takes your fancy and pay him a rate that you agree on before you get in. Freaked me right out. I had visions of being dumped in some back alley robbed of cash and passports. But the reality was the driver was lovely, his taxi clean and new and he showed us the sights of interest along the way. On the return we paid the hotel for a taxi service thinking it’d be cheaper, but it cost $5 US dollars more for an older, dirtier vehicle with a crotchety old driver. So I guess we got a good deal the night before!

Mosquitoes and tsetse fly:

These are things I worried about before going. We took Malarone malaria tablets (the exxy ones) and whacks of strong DEET spray and fly nets for our hats. Worried about the effect of DEET on my health I also mixed up some essential oil blend that was reputed to work repelling tsetse fly. It did. But I hardly came into contact with any. One day at our lunch stop on the Serengeti there were tsetse, but I had used the oil blend and not a single fly bothered me. So I guess the controls the government are employing are working and mid September is a good time to go for low bug numbers!

As for controls, they’ve done a controlled burn on large parts of the Serengeti grassland plains to kill off the tsetse fly eggs.

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And they have these blue and black flags up all over the place that have a chemical in them that renders the flies infertile.

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We tacked on a Safari to the end of our trip - 2 days on the Serengeti and 1 day in the Ngorongoro Crater and visiting Olduvai Gorge (the birthplace of man). This is a whirlwind but it was enough for us. I don’t know how people do 2 week long Safaris - it’s a bit like cruising for my mind. Not active enough. But if you’re going to do a Safari - do it on the Serengeti - it’s insane how many animals you will see and how close you will get!

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We saw matings, babies, chases, and herds and herds of animals. Elephants, Lions, Giraffe, Cheetah, Leopard, Buffalo, Wildebeest, Zebra, Gazelles, Antelope, Baboons, Hyena, Hippo, Rhino, Flamingo and more.

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Ngorongoro is Maasai country, so you’ll see a lot of them also, and their traditional villages. I took no photos of the Maasai. It did not sit right with me. However they wanted you to take photos. The children in particular were lining the road at every slow point waiting for jeeps of foreigners. They’d wave the vehicle down (our driver just ignored them much to their annoyance). When people stopped they’d beg money for photos. They reminded me of the Gypsy’s in Europe. Many of the children don’t go to school, despite there being specific Maasai schools, and a lot of the Maasai don’t speak Swahili, which is unusual in Tanzania as all the tribes speak Swahili in addition to their tribal language. From what we could see the women worked hard washing laundry in the rivers and water holes, carting water and food preparing; the children looked after the herds of roaming animals and the men spent the day not doing a lot. I guess seeing as they are able to have up to 10 wives they may have been recovering from the evenings conjugal efforts!

School:
Education is the key to escaping poverty in Tanzania, however the public school system is very poor, with substandard teachers and programmes. It costs a lot of money to send your child to private school, but it is the best shot they have to get out of the poverty cycle.

The exception is St Jude’s School in Arusha. Started by an Aussie woman and supported by an international community of donors it educates the poorest of the poor for free, with a high quality education, including boarding school options and the provision of nutritious food to students in addition to high quality education. 1800 students are at the school fully supported by donations. They only take one child from a family so as to spread the access to as many impoverished families as possible.

This is a cause that we feel strongly about, and are happy to support. While we will commit to support a student at this school starting now, if we return to Tanzania in the future we would also budget a week in Arusha to volunteer in the school (or for me in the deaf community, if possible). It didn’t feel right flying in and enjoying the hospitality of this beautiful community without actually giving something back. It would’ve meant so much more to given them a week of our time and some much needed resources in a place that it would make a difference.


http://www.schoolofstjude.org/about-us/overview.html
 

LMB

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Last word:

The porters do an incredible job.
While we were flat out scaling rocks and hiking uphill in the altitude at a pole pole pace, they stacked 20 kilos on their heads and bounded up to the next camp and set it up before we got there.
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We were hacks!
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But we found snow.
And we made a lot of friends!
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And PB and I enjoyed our week in a tent so much so we are planning the next one :thumbs:
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LMB

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I uploaded the pics from my mobile, they show fine for me on my mobile but can’t see them on either chrome or IE on the laptop.
Can you guys see them?
 

skifree

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Wow, that’s a trip report on steroids, thanks muchly for more detail than my head can take.

Exploding brain emoji.
 
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LMB

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Wow, that’s a trip report on steroids, thanks muchly for more detail than my head can take.

Exploding brain emoji.
Yeah, sorry...
I’m a bit of an A Type personality LOL
 

LMB

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Thanks for sharing MB. Fantastic experience just by reading it!
It really was Billy. Thanks.
And I’m shocked to say I’d consider doing it again, but there you have it..

You should have taken your skis, got a porter to carry them, and ski the descent. Would have been epic!
LOL
I actually lamented not lugging my board up. Nice coulior to the right of the Kibo Ascent into Gilmans Point. Only problem is the snow/glacier runs out part way down and you’re left with a cliff of rock and no escape route.

The crater looks awesome, but you’d have to have enough time to board in and hike back out - not to mention safety assessments/avi risk.

Our guide Sam did say to me “Ski it? You know you’d die right?”

But yeah, it’d be cool to just put one turn in to say you’d skied in Africa. Except I’m sure the “snow” is not all that pleasant to ride. Our heli guide in Chile skied Everest - he said it was 100% survival and not fun at any point.
 

teckel

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But yeah, it’d be cool to just put one turn in to say you’d skied in Africa.
That's easy enough to do. There's skiing at the Tiffindell resort in the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. 2700m asl. http://www.tiffindell.co.za/.

P.S. I thought you'd seen the light and had taken up skiing.
 
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LMB

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That's easy enough to do. There's skiing at the Tiffindell resort in the Drakensberg mountains in South Africa. 2700m asl. http://www.tiffindell.co.za/.
Well there you go.
More things for my bucket list...

P.S. I thought you'd seen the light and had taken up skiing.
LOL
I tried.
I suck.
I board.

(I love snowboarding and I’m not too bad at it. My knees swell every time I take the skis out and I can’t get off greens. I haven’t given up, but I think it’s unlikley you could ever say I actually SKI :p )
 

LMB

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Great report...however i don't see 'wasted' anywhere? @cold wombat will be disappointed. ;)
676F8F98-069B-4000-8712-B0D3E670AA20.jpeg

I think her beanie reads 'wasted'
Indeed.
Couldn’t get to the highest snowy peak in Africa without my WASTED beanie! And you know there was no way my brain or body would be working enough to pull off an elaborate WASTED spectacular! It’s a miracle I remembered to wear the beanie! LOL
 

dawooduck

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Only the most awesome trip reports include abultion tips and happy snaps of pee bottles.

What man wouldn't want his wife to mention "wide mouth" in regards to a pee bottle

Wonderful
 
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LMB

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TR of the year. Thanks LMB.
Big call.
A) it’s only September.
B) there’s been some pretty darn epic TRs from others.
But thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed it.
 

LMB

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Only the most awesome trip reports include abultion tips and happy snaps of pee bottles.

What man wouldn't want his wife to mention "wide mouth" in regards to a pee bottle

Wonderful
LOL

It’s a strange thing but every Kili report I’ve read is the same. No matter how focused on ‘finding yourself’ or immersing in the experience you are, the conversation and obsession turns back to ablutions. I think it’s just the relentlessness.
 

LMB

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It could’ve been worse than ablution obsession though; my parents visited last night and spilled all their fears after the fact. They were terrified for us. (What else is new, they freaked when we did Yotei too).

The less than 50% Climber success rate and the secretive number of deaths per year had put the wind up them.

And Dad was sure I’d make a nice meal for a Lion on Safari.
:emoji_lion_face::emoji_lion_face::emoji_lion_face::emoji_lion_face:


However the reality is a little less scary when you look deeper and with understanding.

If you decide to march on up quickly via the Coca-Cola/Marangu Route in 4 or 5 days you’re more likely to fail than succeed, even though this is technically an easy-medium route. (See table below). It’s all down to acclimatisation time. Quick ascent of Kili is breaking all the rules of mountaineering. Uhuru Peak is higher than Everest Base Camp and it takes two weeks to get there!

While our route - Shira/Northern Circuit - is considered a high level of difficulty it has a much greater summit success rate. Reports range from 80% to 95% (although I’m sure there is some flexibility and creative reporting in there).

There may also be some statistical warping in that those with less confidence in their ability book the easiest option, which then turns out to have the higher failure rate.

7DCF47AD-9B14-40D0-B675-7B8E299DE63A.jpeg


If you want to do it safely and without injury to yourself it’s just a matter of extra days, and trekking up and down the mountain getting your body ready to cope with the extreme altitude of the summit day (day 6 for us).

Enjoy the journey.
It’s not a race.
(Unless you’re the obnoxious tosspot running past people on his way down Mweka screaming at his porter to keep up and everyone else to get out of his way “4hr summit; 4hr summit!”) o_O
 

LMB

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I was initially waiting to post this thread until our guide sent through the photos he took. I couldn’t wait. LOL

But his photos came through today, so I’ll post a few, as they show the terrain better than anything we took.

Heading up toward Kibo basecamp.
The terrain became pretty sparse - not a lot of rocks to pee behind let alone bushes! Above the clouds over Kenya. It looks pretty flat in this section but it had a gradual rise.
6A1655C5-8606-4B95-BDD8-89A0F4FF69FD.jpeg


These stacks of rocks were everywhere. Evidence of climbers past.
0F8E2057-57A9-4DAF-A353-8FEE8AD398C3.jpeg


Sometimes the dusty ground gave way to rock formations to get over.
CA4D4C16-2AF1-4B39-8B8B-521D720E15C5.jpeg


And it intermittently became steeper
CBE07AE1-3A9B-43C9-B999-6ADF06A45885.jpeg


First light over Kenya as we climb.
206E0C6A-2F81-4AE7-9D97-63BB20DD1D0C.jpeg


Even the dust looked lovely in the morning light.
040727CC-F42C-49EB-BE39-6A33B247D194.jpeg

Getting rocky.
7205A0A5-4309-48DF-8F16-922E4BA6875D.jpeg


From whence we came.
The hut below is the base camp area.
It’s incredible how high you get in a few hours of hiking in the dark.
78C860F7-51DF-4B29-B9A2-5FBC05A3CA76.jpeg


But the terrain for most of he ascent was fairly monotonous.
EED0EE96-95A1-4931-A3BB-29EB690DCDC7.jpeg


Finally at Gilmans Point. Our first stop on the crater rim. And there’s the snow. Man, that made me happy.
8E1A140C-8060-47A4-8905-6B8092494AE4.jpeg
 

LMB

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There was a heap of snow in the crater.
I wish we had got up earlier and been able to spend time in the crater.
3B626E75-5948-4696-8E7F-F502FCCDBEE3.jpeg
E30E3163-74DF-4829-B8DD-72875F26800C.jpeg


Navigation through the last glacier (penitentes apparently) section to Uhuru Peak was tricky.
5291046E-2089-4D65-B56F-105C594FF7DA.jpeg
76402027-4BD8-4838-B135-92724695CE86.jpeg


But how cool are they!
D241779B-2B0C-4653-9B3E-1A8151157928.jpeg


On the way down, the peak in the background.
CD4A1D7C-7F54-4836-BBDC-D6792FEC56A5.jpeg


The top of Kilimanjaro.
A534B2E7-FEE0-4929-92FB-34B9CCD142C2.jpeg


Our crew at High Camp.
TREES!!
Hadn’t seen them for days and we felt so light we could practically skip. And it’s only a touch under 4000m LOL
CDF91649-0810-45B9-AE4D-6FE6584E02CD.jpeg
 
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Red_switch

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Fantastic TR. I work with some folk who do a bit of work on Kili, would love to get up there sometime.

On the skiing front, I was under the impression, that at least historically, a permit was required to ski up there.

On the pee bottle thing. Best thing you can have when camping in extreme cold. Drink heaps before you go to bed. Wake up for a leak. Fill bottle, place bottle inside sleeping bag with you. Not only does this prevent your pee from freezing (which complicates disposal the following morning), it provides a boost of warmth inside your sleeping bag mid-way through the night.

But yes, don't confuse the bottles. A popular protocol is red/orange Nalgene for piss and shit (though pvc pipe pootubes with caps at both ends are much better for shit...), and green, blue, or clear Nalgene for drinking water.
 
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LMB

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On the skiing front, I was under the impression, that at least historically, a permit was required to ski up there.
Yeah, no idea!
I expect so.
As I said, our guide told me I was crazy for even considering it and would die LOL. (He also thought all skiers and snowboarders were crazy and would die.)

I’m keen for more.
PB is on track for Aconcagua, but I think that one might be a bit extreme for me.
 

sn0wbunny29

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Great report and thanks for sharing! It sound a fab trip. Snowbuck and I are preparing for a 22 day trek to the Tsum valley and Manaslau in Nepal next April and you've given me lots of helpful information!
 
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LMB

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Great report and thanks for sharing! It sound a fab trip. Snowbuck and I are preparing for a 22 day trek to the Tsum valley and Manaslau in Nepal next April and you've given me lots of helpful information!
TR for that too please.
We are always looking for the next adventure :thumbs:
 
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VSG

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There was a heap of snow in the crater.
I wish we had got up earlier and been able to spend time in the crater.
3B626E75-5948-4696-8E7F-F502FCCDBEE3.jpeg
E30E3163-74DF-4829-B8DD-72875F26800C.jpeg


Navigation through the last glacier section to Uhuru Peak was tricky.
5291046E-2089-4D65-B56F-105C594FF7DA.jpeg
76402027-4BD8-4838-B135-92724695CE86.jpeg


But how cool are they!
D241779B-2B0C-4653-9B3E-1A8151157928.jpeg


On the way down, the peak in the background.
CD4A1D7C-7F54-4836-BBDC-D6792FEC56A5.jpeg


The top of Kilimanjaro.
A534B2E7-FEE0-4929-92FB-34B9CCD142C2.jpeg


Our crew at High Camp.
TREES!!
Hadn’t seen them for days and we felt so light we could practically skip. And it’s only a touch under 4000m LOL
CDF91649-0810-45B9-AE4D-6FE6584E02CD.jpeg


Seen photos of similar ice pinnacle things on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconcagua in South America.. so sharp apparently the unwary get sliced. :eek: linky thingy.. http://onemanadreaming.blogspot.com/2010/06/penitentes-in-aconcagua-higest-mountain.html
 

LMB

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Seen photos of similar ice pinnacle things on https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconcagua in South America.. so sharp apparently the unwary get sliced. :eek: linky thingy.. http://onemanadreaming.blogspot.com/2010/06/penitentes-in-aconcagua-higest-mountain.html
That’s PBs next adventure.

The carry your own tent, water, food and share of communal necessities as well as your back pack for DAYS up and down, doing two trips between each camp to ferry your stuff up there scared me off.
 
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