The Way to Kilimanjaro

There are many ways to do Kilimanjaro – different routing, the number of nights, camping or staying in huts. With so many things to consider which is the right way?

In 2014 I put together a climb that would benefit a charity called the Calgary Health Trust. We carefully selected a route that would offer beauty, diversity and safety. Selecting the right number of days to complete the task of summiting Kilimanjaro is also essential.

My trip with 25 others started at the londerrossi gate where you check in on the journey, porters are checked for proper gear and bags and equipment are weighed. One thing to consider when choosing a climb company is how they treat their porters – do porters have proper shoes, jacket, gloves and sleeping bag. How much weight are they carrying? My experience on Kilimanjaro I saw other companies’ porter scrambling up the mountain with worn out Crocs carrying well over the “regulated weight”. I was proud to say that our porters had proper gear to trek Kilimanjaro.

Going up with expedition leaders who have summited 70 + times was nice to know we were in good hands. For our 26 climbers we had 100 porters plus another 15 Sr and Jr guides. We were a small city moving up the mountain. It still fascinates me that when we left camp it would still be set up and by the time we got to the next site the tents would be already up. Along the trek you would hear Poli Poli which translates to Slowly Slowly which is key to increasing the odds of summiting. They say young fit males are ones who fail the most as they go to fast and suffer from acute mountain sickness.

Trekking the Lemosho route, you pass through 4 or 5 different vegetation zones offering drastic landscape changes. It is also one of the less busy routes up the mountain making it a more enjoyable experience. Through the jungle we saw colobus monkeys in the trees and lush greenery. On arrival in camp we were welcomed with a classic African song sung by the porters welcoming to Kilimanjaro and to our camp for the night.

The camp is set up with tents scattered around the area with a common mess where you do twice daily check-ins with the doctor to ensure you are keeping hydrated and feeling healthy. The food on the mountain is exceptional with different meals every day. The food is fresh as half way through the trek, fresh ingredients are delivered. One thing to ensure is having private toilets for your group as the toilets in the general huts are not maintained.

The climb itself was very challenging but rewarding! Safety should be the number one priority when climbing Kilimanjaro as it has its dangers such as acute mountain sickness and poladema. On the mountain I felt everyone was safe, healthy and enjoying their time. The moto “hike high and sleep low” is a key contributor to acclimatizing.

Arranging your trip on the proper day and around the moon can help contribute to a better experience on the mountain. Doing the trip around a full moon or somewhat full helps especially on the summit night were you begin your accent at 11:30PM to arrive at the summit for Sunrise. The experience at the top is one that is not explainable to others who have not done it for themselves. The sense of accomplishment with 25 other climbers celebrating one of the biggest physical challenges. After spending some time on the summit we would head down to base camp for a couple of hours sleep before trekking down the mountain to our final camp at a much lower elevation. As you decline in elevation, it becomes easier to breath and function. The porters and guides put on a performance which is very memorable with an interactive song of gratefulness and accomplishment.

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