Best Route For Climbing Kilimanjaro

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It is theoretically possible to walk to the glaciers and visit the ash-pit after you arrived at the summit from camps such as Barafu and Kibo Huts but only a very few will be strong enough to manage the extra distances involved.

The dangers far outweigh the benefits. If you or your guide run into altitude-related problems or sudden bad weather near Reusch Crater, then you will be in deep trouble. Help is far away. Your only hope is to somehow reach Stella Point (a very difficult uphill hike) and descend to Barafu. If you do not make it, you may perish.

If you are lucky, you can ask for assistance from a responsible outfit which happens to be camping at Crater Camp. In that case, they will have to administer their precious oxygen and rescue devices to help you – thereby putting their own clients at risk. A bad situation every way you look at it.

Do not overnight at Crater Camp unless you are traveling with an outfitter who carries a Gamow Bag (altitude chamber), emergency oxygen and with enough porters to evacuate any person (porter or client) under challenging conditions. This is no place for a small skeleton crew and inexperienced guides with a budget outfitter. Do not overnight at Crater Camp unless your experienced guides agree that you are fully acclimatized.

Choose two camps about 2,000′ apart and 2,000′ lower than Moir Camp for a sensible altitude gain during the first 3 days of your trek.

The only sensible choices are Shira 1 and Forest Camps on the Lemosho Trail. The Shira Route starting at the Morum Gate is a possibility, but we are looking for two nights at altitude for better acclimatization, not just one. The Morum Gate start is, therefore disqualified.

After studying more than 15 routes, personally hiking many of the combinations and talking to guides and clients for more than ten years, I am convinced this route is still the best for climbing Kilimanjaro. The main reasons are:

1. No night-climbing. The earliest start is 5 am on Breach day.
2. Sensible altitude gains of about 2,000′ on most days of the ascend.
3. Beautiful and different scenery every day.
4. Fewer people all the way until the descend via the popular Mweka Trail
5. Several opportunities for effective climb-high, sleep-low acclimatization hikes. At Moir Camp, at Lava Tower, at Arrow Glacier and Crater Camp (after summiting)
6. Exposure to all the interesting zones on Kilimanjaro including the Montane Forest
7. Not unnecessarily long (only 33 miles), yet very effective for summit success.
8. A stunning day-time ascend of the incomparable Western Breach.
9. Overnight at Crater Camp with an opportunity to visit the glaciers, see Reusch Crater and ash-pit close-up and summit twice (PM and AM)
10. Camp only 90 minutes from the summit.
11. The incredible satisfaction of being able to say: “I not only climbed Kilimanjaro, but I also Did The Breach!”

Useful Tips:

1. When possible (good weather, strong hikers) many outfitters prefer to summit first then descend to Crater Camp to overnight for better acclimatization (90 minutes up then 40 minutes down) – a climb high sleep low opportunity.
2. Gilman’s Point is familiar to many, but it is really far away (1 hour 45 mins). The uphill approaches to Gilman’s are steep and challenging.
3. Stella Point is only 45 minutes from Crater Camp, but the uphill approach to Stella Point is similar to Gilman’s – challenging and steep.
4. Pofu Rim is rarely used because it is remote (almost 2 hours) and help is really far away in case of emergencies, making it a risky route only used by very experienced outfitters. (Pofu Rim has the potential to become more popular in the future).

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