Kilimanjaro Summit — 16 out of 16!
MM Guide Ben Mality reports on our recent Kilimanjaro expedition:
Day 1 of our 16-person Kilimanjaro climb this late June started off with a comfortable night at our private camp in the Arusha National Park. At around 6,000 feet, it’s great for acclimatization and the trekkers loved it. The staff was generous and made the comfortable tents and meals look amazing. Far away from the bustle of Arusha and far from the airport, there is no place like it to recover from your travels and get ready for the climb. Trekkers kept exclaiming, “what a place to stay before the climb!”
The team having a delicious meal. Ben Mality photo
Despite the large group size, everyone was well taken care of. A delicious barbecue dinner started off the trip, along with a large vegan-friendly spread for our vegan friends. Animals near the camp, such as Colobus monkeys, baboons, buffalo, giraffe and a variety of birds made the atmosphere outstanding. Our first day was a little cloudy and chilly, but everyone warmed up as we hiked to the waterfalls 600 feet above camp.
Acclimatization hike to some gorgeous waterfalls. Ben Mality photo
A few group members had already had experience at altitude but the majority of them did not. Despite all of that, each trekker was prepared and ready for the climb! It was a fun group of people and we all got along well. After our first cloudy day, the following day presented a pleasant surprise for everyone, as we were greeted with clear skies and a perfect view of the mountain we would be climbing. One trekker laughed, “what a surprise to finally see where we are heading! Now the question is, how do we get there, Ben?” The trail started out dusty and cold, but as always, our camps at night were warmer than expected. Plus, warm water bottles in our sleeping bags always make sleeping much more comfortable!
Heading up through the montane forest. Ben Mality photo
Enjoying a sundowner. Ben Mality photo
As we made our way up the mountain, we encountered our toughest day on our way to the crater camp. As always, for some people this is their favorite day, for others, not so much. As we scrambled up the breach, “Pole Pole” (slowly slowly,) became the famouse words of the day. We use this mantra throughout the trip, but much more so on this day. It was like a car race, where those who were in front on the first part of the climb, pulled up the rear on this day, and all in the middle kept a steady slow pace. The cold, wind, dust, and big glaciers in the crater did not deter the clients from making the final push to the top. One trekker had hoped to summit that same day for his birthday, but the pace and conditions on the mountain convinced him to go with the rest of the group the next morning.
Exploring the Furtwängler Glacier in the crater. David Bates photo
Porters passing quickly by with heavy loads always encourages trekkers that they can make it to the top. Reaching the summit early the next morning, Mountain Madness trekkers rejoice and celebrate, especially when they get a good picture of how difficult it is coming up from the less-scenic and enjoyable side of the mountain. Other trekkers arriving from the opposite side look beaten up and tired and have no smiles on their faces. Most are even pulled up to the top.
Everyone has now returned home with fun stories from their new friends, memories of porters singing and the guides’ riddles that encourage people to reach the top. “Great company, great staff, great group and great choice.” — trekker Brian T.
~ MM Guide Benhadad Mality