POLE POLE- Kilimanjaro climb August 2014
Written by: Ben Mality (trip leader)
This was the last trip of the season and all six clients made to the top. The group arrived on the 9th August 2014 but in two separate flights. George with his kids arrived from Nairobi while the other three arrived with KLM. First night at our private camp was very special place to be. Driving in darkness from the airport, Michael said, “Ben, what are we going to see?” “Nothing!” I answered in a joking way. It is very dark but we could see some lights in the villages and in the park before camp, we saw a waterbuck and three rabbits. So perhaps I was wrong as we did see something!
The morning of the 10th the group were introduced to each other and met properly. The sounds of animals during the night and to be able to see them in the day time was amazing. As the Trip Leader, I did the trip briefing and it seemed like everyone felt happy to be with such knowledgeable guides. The best part of the briefing was explaining the history of the Tanzania that lots of people do not know, clients are always happy to hear more about my beautiful country. The group also learned some of the Kiswahili words that we could use along the trail.
The group had a chance to hike to the waterfalls to the base of Mount Meru. Not only did we discuss the history of the waterfalls but they learned a lot about the tribe that live near that mountain (Meru tribe). If that was not enough we then had sundowner’s which was outstanding because we had troop of baboons in every angle very close to us and the cape buffaloes on the other side. Michael said, “what a spectacular day!”
Climbing Kilimanjaro from day one was very nice as you learn a lot from the guides and porters. Most porters did not speak English but you could tell that they were happy working with Mountain Madness. Hiking in the Montane Forest was all the time good to hear and see monkeys and birds. It was so nice to see animal tracks at Shira plateau. These were tracks of elands, cape buffaloes, jackals and mountain duiker.
The western breach was the best part of the climb as you see the best part of the mountain. The rock formation and the landscape below were amazing. It was the best way to get to the summit and the group liked it after they saw people from the other side of the mountain the way they looked like.
The ash pit or Reauch Crater was an amazing place to go. The group wanted to go there but felt lazy after sleeping and decided to go around the glaciers for nice pictures. That was not a problem at all because I decided to go by myself. I went all the way up and down to the second rim of that inner crater. I was happy to see the sulphur that was wet and you could see the smoke out of the sulphur. It was an excellent place to see though it fumed sulphur so you have to be careful not to be there too long otherwise you will get a slight headache. I was tempted to walk to the third inner crater but was scared because I was alone and it was very cloudy part of the time. I wish the rest of the clients had decided to come with me! It is the place that very few people get the chance to see. Come with Mountain Madness and you will be able to go there and see.
The Furtwangler Glacier near our camp is melting quickly. It was sad to see how it gets smaller every time I go there. I hope more people will come to see that before it disappears.
Crater Camp was cold but the hot water bottles that were given to the clients made the big difference. All slept well and summit quickly on the following day. People who started from the other routes at midnight did not look good at all. They were tired and froze the whole night while we had a short climb to the summit (1 hour). The success rate was 100% because of the route we took plus the knowledge of the guides. “Pole pole” means slowly in Kiswahili is the key of success on the mountain. The group had two youngest ones, Thomas (14yrs) and Nicola (15yrs) and all made to the top of Kilimanjaro (19,340ft). For sure it was a strong group and am happy that all made to the top.