Day eight: Tumbling down

Millennium camp, the last morning

Millennium camp, last day. Awoke to find that the towel I’d left outside had frozen solid so this morning’s wash was a little brisk. The peak is behind us now, so it’s disbursing of the tips to the porters and getting ourselves together for the last hike down the mountain to the Mweka gate. Continue reading “Day eight: Tumbling down”

Day Six/Seven: The curve of the earth

From the crater rim

Man, what a night! So, after a few hours of not very restful rest we assemble in the Bucky dome for our pre-summit brief. The weather is cold but clear and you can see the lights of the other climbers heading up the mountain in the darkness of New Years Eve. It’s a slow slog up the hill now, bulky in our cold weather gear, sometimes stopping to let quicker parties through. The air’s getting thinner all the time and I’m struggling now to  keep up with the rest of the party, feet are going numb as the heat leaks out through the soles of my boots (even with two pairs of yak wool socks). Despite the rest stops I’m falling behind as we ascend into a series of mind and body numbing switchbacks, listening to the porters singing (clearly they are acclimatised). Me, I’m just wondering am I going to get there? Thinking about just lying down I’m so exhausted. Eventually G and I fall out of the line with one of the summit porters and I sit down on a god damn freezing rock to catch my breath. Camelback’s frozen (predictably) so down to water in canteen.  Continue reading “Day Six/Seven: The curve of the earth”

Evening on summit night eve

Day Six: Barafu camp

Evening at Barafu, summit night eve

Day six is another clear morning, so it’s off on the trail to Barafu camp (4662m). The landscape is drier now and dustier as we head north easterly on a steady upwards slope until we hit an easterly running valley that takes to the foot of the ridge on which Barafu camp sits, a final (damn exhausting) scramble and we’re at Barafu. Continue reading “Day Six: Barafu camp”

Climbing up through the Groundsels forest

Day Five: The Barranco wall

Climbing up through the Groundsels forest

Up early, but even with an early get up the Barranco wall already has a long line of climbers winding up it. Our guides elect to wait for the crush to ease, so it’s another little while before we head off. The days clear and cold as we cross the Barranco and start our scramble up the wall. Continue reading “Day Five: The Barranco wall”

Day four: To the Lava towers



Woke up this morning with frost on the ground, today we’ll be leaving the mountain heath and heading up into the alpine desert and the Lava towers at 4627m. As we’re not taking the Western breach route we’ll then head down again through the Barranco valley to Barranco camp. We’re doing the climb high, sleep low thing today.

Continue reading “Day four: To the Lava towers”

Looking across the plateau towards Kibo

Day three: Shira huts

Shira campsite in the morning, looking towards Kibu

Morning of the third day, a cool clear night. Had to get up for a call of nature around three, the moon flooding the plateau with it’s cold light and Kibo standing up against the stars. The air is thinner here and walking back to the tent it suddenly feels like you’re no longer swimming safely at the bottom of an ocean of air but the only person alive on a vast alien plain exposed to the pitiless gaze of ancient and indifferent constellations. Or at least that’s how you feel at three in the morning. 🙂 Continue reading “Day three: Shira huts”

Day two: Shira 1 camp

Cloud and moor, with G

Waking early, always early on the trail, it’s a bird bath with the ubiquitous bowl of water, breakfast in our Buckminster dome mess tent and a short wait while we (the porters) strike camp, then we’re off on to Shira 1 camp. Climbing up out of the climax rainforest and heading east the air is cooling but still humid and it’s raining intermittently as we move above the forest line and we’re walking amongst heather and stoebe under a lowering sky. Yes it’s east, east and to the east again young man as we climb up the ridge line until we hit our lunch stop. Continue reading “Day two: Shira 1 camp”

Day one: To Mti Mkubwa

Early morning, Stella Maris Moshi

And we’re off, Moshi to Londorossi gate then Mti Mkubwa

An early start, and we were off in the bus for a couple of hours boneshaking ride to Londorossi gate. We’re using the Lemosho route which takes you up through the western cloud forest then east across the Shira plateau where it joins up with the Barafu route then it’s Barranco, Katanga valley and Barafu before the final New Years Eve ascent to Stella point. Continue reading “Day one: To Mti Mkubwa”

The snows of Kilimanjaro

Searching for Hemingway’s leopard So dear reader, after many adventures on the grass ocean of the Serengeti, and a side trip to the lost world of Ngorongoro, the good doctor and I have finally arrived in Moshi Tanzania, the jump off point for our climb. We’ve had our briefing from the head guide, met the other members of the party and done a final equipment check. … Continue reading The snows of Kilimanjaro