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Mount Kilimanjaro Trip Report (#3594)
- Signed By: Francesca Caffarena
- Date submitted: October 07, 2004
- Date(s) climbed: 25 August, 2004
- Number of People Encountered:
Summitted with 2 other climbers under excellent conditions, sunny, clear weather, mild (above-freezing) temperatures (usual for that time of year, apparently). UNFORGETTABLES: the starriest night sky I have ever seen, the exhilaration of looking down INTO Kili's snowy crater from the rim at Gilman's Point, the sight of Mt. Kenya in the distance, encountering colobus monkeys along the route.... DIFFICULTIES: the nausea which set in at 5000 meters and which affected that last 45-min. walk from Gilman's to Uhuru Peak -- tougher than any marathon I have ever run! (note: many climbers had strong nausea at the top); also difficult was trying to get some sleep during those 7 hours before beginning the summit night climb, at 4:30 p.m., in a hot tent, hearing the porters' noisy chatter.... Some recommendations:
ROUTE: RONGAI - relatively easy, unspoiled, and blissfully free of tourists (we met only 4 other climbers along the way!). Descent was along the busy, slightly artificial, manicured Marangu route.
COMPANY: ZARA -- Richard and Dennis were great, fun guides, patient & professional. Gaudens, the cook, made delicious, COPIOUS amounts of food, seasoned with ginger and garlic to increase our blood circulation at high altitude....
AMS prophylactic: I took Co-enzyme Q-10 (300 mg./day). Had slightly better results than with Diamox (used previously while in the Himalayas) and with NO side effects. Doing Hyperventilation exercises the day before the summit climb also helped (2 breaths per step). My only altitude symptoms: mild headache at 4800m and nausea at 5000m. Otherwise I was fine.
INDISPENSABLE GEAR: cold weather/ski gear; WARM hiking boots; a good sleeping bag liner; walking stick(s); head lamp (invest in one with detached battery case to store in your pocket, so batteries won't freeze); knee supports or ACE bandage; gaiters; nausea medicine; aspirin; antiseptic hand-wash gel + nail brush (believe me, you will use them everyday); earplugs(!); strong sunscreen; plastic bags (for camera, and other electronic equipment - there is LOTS of dust and ash); good quality socks; a comfortable, SMALL day pack (note: the porters will carry your other larger pack, which must not exceed 15 kilos/33 lbs.).
OTHER TIPS: 1) do a 6-DAY route or longer. 2) camp at quiet SCHOOL Hut instead of busy Kibo. 3) try to RELAX and FOCUS during the summit climb - just take 1 step at a time. 4) add TEA/SUGAR/DRINK MIX in your water bag to keep it from freezing, and remember to blow slightly into your water tube after drinking to keep it clear. 5) DON'T STOP at Gilman's (or Stella's) Point!! (unless you have AMS) --Uhuru seems close but is still 45 min. away. 6) keep your camera WARM, inside your pocket or parka - NOT in your backpack - so it won't freeze at summit. 7) WRAP your KNEES and WEAR GAITERS for the descent when sliding down the ash slope. 8) TAPE your FEET for the last 1.5 days of descent to avoid blisters. 9) DRINK as much H2O as you can. 10) keep an abundant sense of HUMOUR, and ENJOY the CLIMB itself....