Ascent of Kilimanjaro on 2014-04-12

Climber: Christopher D'Aiuto

Date:Saturday, April 12, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Bus
    Elevation:19341 ft / 5895 m

Ascent Trip Report

Day 1: Marangu Gate (S3 14.542 E37 31.061, 1877m) to Mandara Hut (S3 10.898 E37 30.797, 2708m), 8.3km, 2726 ft up, 4:24, 2 km/h
Rainforest to large heathland.

Day 2: Mandara Hut to Horombo Hur (S3 08.354 E37 26.342, 3722m), 12.9km, 3626 ft up, 6:33, 2 km/h
Heathland to moorland.

Day 3: Horombo Hut to Kibo Hut (S3 04.906 E37 23.349, 4705m), 9.3km, 3225 ft up, 4:00, 2 km/h
Moorland to Alpine desert.
Didn't sleep much this night with trying to sleep early, feeling bitter cold in the hut, and then starting at midnight to hike.

Day 4: Kibo Hut to Uhuru Peak (5895m), 2.9km*, 3904 ft up, 3:44*, 0.8km/h*, 6 hrs (4 hr to Gillmans, 2 hr to Uhuru)
Uhuru Peak to Horombo Hut, 7129 ft down
Alpine desert to frigid zone and down.
*Data until GPS batteries froze, right below Gillmans Point, where the rim traverse begins.

We had snow hours before beginning our midnight ascent, an inch at Kibo Hut, more as we got higher up. My legs, even with lots of training, were close to giving out before I got to the rim. Getting to the rim at 4 am the temperature were around -18 C with intense wind gusts that not only penetrated layers but was constantly trowing snow into your eyes and face. I had no face mask. I also barely survived wearing three layers (long-sleeve thermal, fleece, and thin wind jacket---the guide told me I didn't need to rent a ski jacket). My legs also only had three thin layers. I had mittens under gloves and my hands were frozen by the time I got to Gillmans. Luckily I had hand warmers that brought them back to warmth but skin still peeled off later at the finger tips. My core only got cold on the way back from the summit. Somehow keeping my camera in the center of my day pack was enough to keep it from freezing, and I was able to get some awesome pics between gusts at the sunrise (~6am). Because it was inhospitable we left quickly, but had great views of Mawensi and Mt. Meru. The glaciers were astounding. On descending from Gillmans ~8am it was -12 C. Our guide told us he'd never seen winds like that at sunrise ever. I got a harder summit morning and am glad for it! Rested on the way down at Kibo and had breakfast.

Day 5: Horombo Hut to Marangu Gate, 19.1 km, 6352 ft down, 5:09, 4 km/h
Continuing down.
Hiking poles really help in coming down so your knees aren't shot. Take your own time, don't let guides rush you faster than you feel safe doing; there are lots of rocks and much mud. Walking down this day it was completely clear all the down.

Other Notes:
I had hoped to go straight to the Headquarters to arrange the cheapest deal possible (without cooking for myself), and made it as far as the village of Marangu without booking. Going in the off season, I found Babylon lodge to be open, extremely accommodating, and got about the best rate you can, $1300 for a 5 day trek on Marangu route, which ended up paying for the guide, cook, waiter, and two other porters, park fees, cabin accommodation, plus transport to the gate and back, and all the food and dishes. I brought my own clothes and pack and bag, ect. I would recommend Babylon Lodge highly as a base camp. They have wifi, computers, a hopping bar, good restaurant, and all around incredible service from the manager and staff.

The 5 day Marangu route has the worst success rate of summiting because of its quick ascent. I had acclimated however on Ras Dajen, Mt. Kenya, and Mt. Meru in the month before this, and did not have any altitude sickness other than sleeplessness as a result. Even on the rim I had no issues with racing heart, dizziness, or short breath. Keeping slow paces is also key!

Having the food catered was essential. Even with getting to camp in the afternoon your routine will take up the time quickly and then time for an early bed for lots of sleep while you can get it. Not worrying about cooking goes a long way.

I drank no less than 4 liters of water a day and I can say this helped me achieve the summit. Chug one before breakfast, drink two during the day's hike, then chug another before supper in camp (so you're not waking up to pee). I also drank no coffee or tea (they push these A LOT) since they're diuretics so I stayed to hot chocolate every meal for a hot drink.
Click on photo for original larger-size version.
View of Kilimanjaro (Kibo and Mawenzi peaks) from the summit of Mt. Meru at sunrise (2014-04-07). Photo by Christopher D'Aiuto.
Click here for larger-size photo.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:13183 ft / 4018 m
    Route:Marangu Route
    Trailhead:Marangu  6158 ft / 1876 m
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Guide, Porters, Hut Camp
    Weather:Rained in the late morning walking through the rainforest, and otherwise didn't have any.
Ascent Statistics
    Time:3 Days 
Descent Statistics
    Time:2 Days 
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Christopher D'Aiuto
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

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