The summit push!
When we woke up in the morning of 1st January 2016 at around 6am, the first rays of sun touched our sleep-deprived faces. We spent the last night at Kosovo Camp on 4800m, which is regularly closed to the public due to pollution. That (and the fact that we would stay one night in the crater after the summit) meant for us, that we didn`t had to leave for the summit push at around midnight, but could sleep normally till the morning. But as it was New Year`s Eve the night before, around midnight hundreds of climbers who came up from Barafu Camp were singing and screamning around our campsite. 🙂 So there was not so much sleep in the end. but nevertheless it was a memorable and fun thing to spent this night on the mountain.
With Kibu in our sight we started our summit push. Slowly making our way up the stoney slopes of the mountain, we met many people of those who started during the night and now came down from the summit. Many of them were weak and more stumbling than walking. And almost half of them had to be supported by guides or porters. The height and exhaustion of the trek claimed their victims…
Thankfully we were still very fine and walked singing and laughing while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Kibu surroundings.
Uhuru Peak (5895m)
As the hours went by, we came closer and closer to the summit of Kilimanjaro, called “Uhuru Peak”. With 5895m above sea level, Uhuru Peak is the highest point of Africa and the top of the world`s highest freestanding mountain!
On the way up, you pass “Stella Point”. From that point you are able to look inside the crater and it indicates that there is less than one hour to go till Uhuru. We really started feeling the height from that point on and as the clouds came in (as always at this time of the day), temperatures dropped below 0° Celsius.
The last meters were tough but doable – you get exhausted a lot faster due to the thin air and therefore walk and do everything literally in slow motion. But in the end, it is so much worth the effort. When finally reached Uhuru peak at around 1:15pm on New Year’s Day 2016, we were overwhelmed, exhausted and happy all at once!
As it was already quite “late” during the day, we were by far the only people and the summit was just ours. 🙂 It was amazing and we would highly recommend to do the climb like this if possible!
Descending into the crater…
As standing on top of Africa’s highest mountain and one of the Seven Summits on New Year’s Day is not exciting enough, there was another big thing waiting for us on that day. After we did a lot of research and saw so many great pictures in preparation of the climb, we decided that we gonna stay one night in the Crater Camp!
This is something really special and not regularly offered by tour operators, though almost everybody can arrange it on request. Staying at Crater Camp means, that from Uhuru Peak you steeply descend into the crater of Mount Kilimanjaro and spend one night in front of the magnificent Furtwangler Glacier at 5790m. Due to the height and harsh conditions (we had up to -20° Celsius during that night!), this is not really safely – and as the following morning showed us, should really be taken seriously…
When we started our descent into the crater, the weather quickly got worse and we stepped through a complete White-Out. As there was a lot more snow than expected, we didn`t walk but rather slided down on our buts. 🙂 This part was quite funny, though some members of our group didn’t feel hundred percent well anymore.
When reaching the camp, only two other groups were there and for the first time on the mountain we really felt on a mountaineering adventure and under challenging conditions!
Tired from the long day we went to bed quite early and tried to get some of the rare sleep on that height…
Continue to read about Day 7 on Kilimanjaro! 🙂