Kilimanjaro 2002!

Latest Dispatch: Dispatch #12 January 21st, 2002.  Arusha, Tanzania Hello, this is the Kilimanjaro Expedition, it's the 21st of January, 2002.  We had a successful safari in Tarangire yesterday, we saw quite a few animals.... Click here for the full Dispatch

Welcome to our Winter 2002 cybercast of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa and one of the Seven Summits.  Follow Jim Williams, Tobias Mtoly, and the Alpine Ascents International teams on their adventures, as they phone in periodic dispatches highlighting the days events and keep us updated on their progress.  We wish the teams the best of luck and look forward to following their journeys..

Crowned by eternal snows, the mighty Kilimanjaro (19,340ft) is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and dominates its landscape unlike any other mountain. Located in Tanzania, this extinct volcano looms over five eco-systems and large game reserves and is certainly one of the world's most impressive sights. The terrain is nothing short of dramatic. As a mountaineering company, we treat this adventure as a mountain climbing expedition.

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OVERVIEW: As one of the most fascinating and diverse regions on earth, Kilimanjaro has attracted both climbers and nature enthusiasts with its magnetism. The ascent up this great peak is non-technical by nature and it affords a full mountaineering experience (with all the rigors and rewards) for those in strong physical condition. Over the past ten years,  Alpine Ascents International have emerged as a leader in guiding Kilimanjaro, applying expertise from other formidable mountains to the wilds of Africa. We consider the Kilimanjaro climb and safari expedition to be one of the most appealing and treasured adventure experiences we offer. The mountain can be underestimated and death can occur, like any climb.

EXPEDITION ITINERARY The climb begin and end via flights to Nairobi, Kenya. It is also possible to fly directly to Kilimanjaro International Airport.

Day 1: Depart USA for Nairobi, Kenya.

Day 2: In transit via Europe.

Day 3: Arrive Nairobi in early am. Airport pick up and shuttle to 4-star hotel in Nairobi. Those opting to arrive in Arusha directly should also arrive on this day.

Day 4: Private shuttle pick up at Nairobi hotel. Shuttle to Arusha, Tanzania. Final gear check.

Day 5: After registering with the park service, we meet our porters. Porters are an integral part of our African journey. They become friends and provide insight into African culture and society. Their warm and energetic nature is a wonderful aspect of the expedition. We travel by jeep to the Machame trail head. The drive winds through cultivated coffee fields and small forests of ferns and flowers. Our climb begins on the edge of a rain forest (elevation 6,000ft). Below the watchful eyes of the monkeys, we trek four-five hours to the Machame Camp (9,000ft) and set camp for the night.

Days 6:  Leave the Machame Hut, cross a small valley and begin our ascent. The environment changes from heath forest to moor lands. These moor lands are littered with two species of giant groundsel, Senecios and Lobelia. Halfway up the trail we meet a river gorge and descend slightly to the Shira Plateau (12,300ft). We spend the night at the Shira Camp, allowing plenty of time to properly acclimatize and explore the surrounding areas.

Day 7:  Today is a short day in terms of distance but a critical building block for our acclimatization. We climb to about 15,000ft. while crossing a ridge, with expansive views of the plains far below. Here we have lunch and admire the ancient glacier ice of the Breach Wall before dropping to our 12,800ft. campsite at Great Barranco.

Day 8: This short day is also very important for our continuing acclimatization. We climb up and over the Great Barranco, topping out at about 14,500 ft. before once again dropping to our camp (Karanga River at 12,800ft.) and lunch. This day we pass below the famous Breach Wall on our left, the largest ice and rock face in Africa. The Breach Wall is famous for its climbing route, known as “The Icicle”, first climbed in the early 1970’s by Reinhold Messner. To our left lies the endless horizon of the African plains. Daytime temperatures are quite warm (80°F), while evening temperatures often drop below freezing.

Day 9: From the Karanga River we climb almost 3,000ft. to our high camp at Cosolo (15,700ft.) which takes approximately five - six hours. As we wind through beautiful and rarely traveled regions, we enter a high desert plateau, littered with volcanic boulders. Looking south we view the desert plains as the pinnacles of Mowenzi peak tower before us. At Barafu hut we make preparations for the summit attempt. While our porters prepare the food, we spend our time packing and preparing for the next day's 2:00am departure.

Day 10: Summit day! Awake at midnight and prepare gear for the ascent. We begin the climb wearing head lamps until the pre-dawn light is reflected off the African plains. Following a distinct ridge we approach the crater's rim, then traverse northwest along the rim to the main summit, Uhuru Peak (19,340ft). From here we can view the Bismarck Towers, rock pinnacles along the crater's rim and the hanging Rebman Glaciers.

As the sun rises over Africa, we are privy to a panorama of incredible views. To the north stands Mt. Kenya (17,056ft/5199m) with its unique twin summits. This is the second highest mountain on the continent. The southern exposure reveals the sprawling plains of Tanzania and East Africa and Mowenzi Peak.

After enjoying the view from the top, we descend to Cosolo, pack camp, and begin our traverse down the Mweka route on the southern side of the mountain, setting camp at the Mweka Campsite. The sunrises are exquisite as we awaken below the towering mountain.

Day 11: We descend through the lush green landscape of the Mweka route into the thickest jungle we have yet encountered. The environment becomes primordial, with 20 foot-tall fern trees creating a prehistoric atmosphere. After reaching Mweka Gate we drive to Arusha.

Day 12: Begin the safari to the Ngorongoro Crater, one of the worlds most incredible natural wonders. Here we will encounter herds of zebra, antelope, buffalo, elephant, rhino, cheetah and hippo. As we drive through the crater we pass members of the Masai tribe, (The Masai travel in pairs or solo, carrying long spears for protection.), nomadic herders of the region. We will have the opportunity to visit the Masai village in which we observe tribal dance and local lifestyles.

Day 13: We continue to explore the nature and wildlife of the crater. In the early afternoon we travel to Tarangire National Park via Lake Manyara. We safari through Lake Manyara and observe the land of antelopes, baboons and gazelles as they are stalked by lions, cheetahs and hyenas. Lake Manyara is world renown for its ornithology and vast game reserves. From Lake Manyara we travel to the Tarangire River. This beautiful valley overlooks African grassland, sprinkled with acacia and baobab trees. This area is known for its variety of large mammals.

Day 14: We continue a full day of safari through Tarangire on the way back to Arusha. After some last minute shopping, we return to our hotel and a farewell dinner in Arusha.

Day 15: Morning in Arusha and depart via private shuttle to Nairobi airport. Depart Nairobi for Europe and the USA.

Day 16: Arrive USA.