If you’re interested in doing the Seven Summits, Kilimanjaro makes a great starting place. If you’re interested on standing on the highest point in Africa, on the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, or just pushing your limits, Kili is also your huckleberry.
At 19,341 feet, it sits right in the middle of the Seven Summits list:
#1: Everest (Nepal/China, Asia): 29,029
#2: Aconcagua (Argentina, South America): 22,837
#3: Denali (Alaska, North America): 20,156
#4: Kilimanjaro (Tanzania, Africa): 19,341
#5 Elbrus (Russia, Europe): 18,510
Mont Blanc (France/Italy, Europe): 15,774
Depending on a dispute whether Elbrus is in Europe or Asia.
#6: Vinson Massif (Antarctica): 16,050
#7: Wilhelm (Papua New Guinea, Australia):14.793 feet
Kosciuszko (Australia Mainland): 7,390 feet
Both compete for the highest peak on the Australian continent, based on political or geophysical data.
After doing some research with my climbing buddy SuperDave, we picked Tusker Trail for an outfitter. Excellent reputation, two medically trained guides, a trained chef, and a whole accompaniment of porters. Talk about luxury! We would be joined by two ER doctors, Crazy Clay from Chicago, and Ashley from Abu Dhabi, UAE. They became friends in medical school, and despite living across the world from each other they have kept in close touch and have done several amazing trips together. Both very experienced world travelers, they would turn out to be fun trip partners with lots of great stories.
We picked the 12 day Lemosho route, the same as the 11 day route but with an extra night to sleep in the crater at 18,000 feet. This route gives you enough time to properly acclimatize and enjoy the hike, something you don’t get with the short routes. We saw plenty of people doing the short climbs absolutely suffering from altitude sickness up there!
If you think about doing an African Safari, or pretty much anything in Africa – the Land Cruiser is what you think of. And for good reason. Tusker uses these to transport their guests to the Landarossi Gate for the start of the hike.
Our awesome crew – Guadance, Nemes, and Joseph. Tusker Trail is the most expensive Kilimanjaro outfitter, and for a reason. Medically trained crew, consumate professionals, a chef to prepare all the meals, and quality, well maintained gear. Sure there are cheaper options, but there’s no sense turning into a cheap-ass when your life could depend on it.
Warm and Cozy
Closed for the Night
This Giant Lobelia lives high in the mountains of East Africa, and has adapted to the cold environment by closing itself up at night to preserve moisture.
Onward and Upward
Frosty Morning on the Mountain
Just one of the many fantastic meals that Eric cooked for us on the mountain. Since we’d normally get done hiking fairly early, we spent our afternoons in the tent playing cards and munching down on yet another awesome buncha chow. Clay and Ashley turned out to be formidable Euchre players, and kept SuperDave and I on our toes.
Road to Nowhere
Dry and Dusty
Kick Em Up
The Karanga Horse Thief Gang
Window to the World
The Task Ahead
Endless Sea of Clouds
Our Fearless Leader
Gaudence was one of our Tusker guides – aka, our Fearless Leader. He and Nemes were consumate professionals – knowledgable about the flora and fauna, medically trained, great wit and personalities, and generally fun to hike with. Between the guides and other hikers, I couldn’t have asked for a better group.
Pole means Slow in Swahili, and the mountain guides are famous for saying "Pole, Pole" to keep you moving slowly and steadily. This photo sums up everyone’s energy level as we approach Stella Point. Heads down, watch your next step, and take the step. Rinse, lather, repeat.