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Anyone climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Old 09-28-2016, 04:06 PM   #1
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Anyone climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro?

DW has been talking about an African photo safari trip, and there is a possible extension to Kilimanjaro.

I haven't done a lot of searching yet, so there is probably good information out there, but I wonder if anyone here has ever climbed it.

At over 19,000 feet, it would count in my books as a severe physiological challenge, but I understand a lot of people have done it with not much preparation. We have both climbed a few 14ers in Colorado, but 19 is a hell of a lot more than 14.

Advice? Opinions? It's OK to say "that's crazy" but I'm genuinely curious. That would be an amazing bucket list item!
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Old 09-28-2016, 04:10 PM   #2
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No, but I know two people who have done it, one a female in her early 40s and superbly fit, and the other, a 60-something year old male with a bad hip, but otherwise in good condition. I think it's more of a hike than a climb, but altitude is the main challenge.
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Old 09-28-2016, 04:26 PM   #3
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I did, it was just after I climbed Everest.............Then I woke up.
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Old 09-28-2016, 04:28 PM   #4
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My dad did. He was a Sierra Club outting leader for years and would do trips that covered his bucket list... He was in his mid 40's when he did it though. I know they used a local company for the "catered camping". But my understanding is that it is not as tough as you'd think - as long as you give yourself time to acclimate. High altitude is awful if you're not acclimated. (I say this as the person who would get altitude sick for the first night of every Sierra backpack we did as kids - because the exertion of crossing the first pass 1 day after being at sea level would wipe me out and having me barfing at the top of the pass. Not fun.)
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Old 09-28-2016, 04:31 PM   #5
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Yes it's more of a hike/walk than a climb, and bearers carry all the heavy stuff anyway, including the cold weather gear needed at the top..

A group from our project in Saudi did it in the late 1980s....one periodically suffered from asthma but encountered no difficulty......another, given to showing off and constantly running ahead, didn't acclimatize properly and had to be carried back down.

Slow and steady.
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Old 09-28-2016, 05:18 PM   #6
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I read somewhere that only about half of those who start the climb reach the summit, but that's to be expected. We would definitely be in the "successful" group despite our age. I'm just having a hard time forming a mental image of myself at 19,000 feet, because I know what 14,000 feet does to me. Still, we're very seriously considering it.
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Old 09-28-2016, 05:23 PM   #7
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You should go for it then. You ain't gettin' any younger.

And if you don't make it to the top you were still on the mountain eh?
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Old 09-28-2016, 05:50 PM   #8
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I did a summit of 14K on Hawaii (Big Island). By the time I got to the top, that rental car was POOPED!
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Old 09-28-2016, 06:02 PM   #9
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I did a summit of 14K on Hawaii (Big Island). By the time I got to the top, that rental car was POOPED!
I did the same thing... again a Sierra Club outting that my parents were leading. We rented 4WD cars because they do better at high altitude... but 2 of them still had issues towards the top... but made it to the top in reverse. I guess reverse is the lowest gear...

I remember barfing and having a wicked headache at the top of Mauna Kea... I think I'd skip Kilmanjaro given my issue with altitude sickness.
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Old 09-28-2016, 06:05 PM   #10
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An old boss of mine did it at 70 years old. It is walking, just a lot of it. You should be in decent shape, and be prepared for acclimatization. Also take some diamox with you in just in case.
But yes, go for it!
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Old 09-28-2016, 07:21 PM   #11
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DD's FIL (67) did it and had to be carried down after struggling to the summit. A friend (65) did it and stopped partway up--she was smarter than DD's FIL and realized her limits. They both trained for six months. From their perhaps over-embellished stories, it sounds like it's a lot more strenuous than walking, but why not go for it.
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Old 09-28-2016, 07:51 PM   #12
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No thank you. Such heights may affect someone's future health, and 19K is nothing to fool around with.

My sister went on photo safari in Africa where every 2-4 people on the tour piloted their own Cessna 210. They flew in formation from country to country to extremely plush bush camps and tents. It was an incredible experience.

My nephew went on a real safari when he got out of college--lion hunting. He and the guides tracked a large, old male lion all day. When they finally found him, the hunter got out of his air conditioned Land Rover, shot the lion, got back in the Land Rover and drove off. That's what it's like today to be a big game hunter.
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:07 PM   #13
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I'm very interested in doing this someday. Hopefully in the next 5 years. I think you should do it. It's the highest hike anywhere that can be done without requiring technical climbing skills.

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Old 09-28-2016, 08:54 PM   #14
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What is the worst that can happen ? You do not complete the hike . So what ! Go for it !
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:27 AM   #15
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What is the worst that can happen ? You do not complete the hike . So what ! Go for it !
The worst that can happen is dying from altitude sickness. Very rarely on Kili but it happens.

After walking up Mount Kenya I was considering doing the Kilimanjaro (on the same trip, mount Kenya was the first stop). I decided to not do it, despite passing by Arusha for a few days. I know several people who have done it.

What you need to know:
  • Reasonable fitness required, but that's only part of the story.
  • Going up the Kilimanjaro is literally a walk in the park. You are also going up in altitude much faster than is recommended by anyone sane. Most people therefore give up due to altitude sickness, not fitness.
  • Altitude sickness is not related to fitness, and can strike anyone severely.
  • It's a very busy place because it's so easy access, and highly regulated. Also relatively costly because of the permits and you need to go with a licensed company.
I didn't go because I got mild altitude sickness on Mount Kenya, and because of the crowded nature. Both those factors made me decide the cost wasn't worth it.


If you do go consider taking a package deal that takes you the long route: it's more expensive but you'll experience more of the nature, and a lower risk of (severe) altitude sickness. Take Acetazolamide or similar with you.
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:33 AM   #16
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I'm very interested in doing this someday. Hopefully in the next 5 years. I think you should do it. It's the highest hike anywhere that can be done without requiring technical climbing skills.
Depends on your definition of technical obviously, but the Aconcagua is much higher and requires no technical climbing skills either.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconcagua

Also more of an adventure in terms of remoteness and distance - it's quite far off from cities as I understand it.
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:35 AM   #17
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I read somewhere that only about half of those who start the climb reach the summit, but that's to be expected. We would definitely be in the "successful" group despite our age.
You don't know that. Severe altitude sickness can strike anyone at any age, even if you normally don't suffer much from the effects.
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Old 09-29-2016, 04:40 AM   #18
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Agreed. The trip we're looking at uses the longer Rongai route instead of the more popular Marangu or Machame routes. It also takes seven days to include plenty of acclimatization stops.

We're going to hike a couple of easy 14ers next week just to see if we still have what it takes. If that works out, we'll probably schedule the Kilimanjaro trip.

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:35 AM   #19
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Depends on your definition of technical obviously, but the Aconcagua is much higher and requires no technical climbing skills either.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aconcagua

Also more of an adventure in terms of remoteness and distance - it's quite far off from cities as I understand it.
Very interesting Totoro. I was unfamiliar with this mountain. Looks like quite a challenge at 22K. High altitude and cold but not technical in terms of climbing skills. I may consider it someday. Probably attempt Kilimanjaro first.

Muir
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Old 09-29-2016, 08:47 AM   #20
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You should go for it then. You ain't gettin' any younger.

And if you don't make it to the top you were still on the mountain eh?
+1

Just out of curiosity, would skiing some of the higher areas in Colorado (like Breckenridge, ~ 12,000 ft) for many hours straight with no problems give a good indication as to whether or not someone would face any sort of serious altitude sickness going up Kilimanjaro? In other words, would being fine for extended periods in the 10-12,000 foot range translate to being able to handle 14-19,000 feet reasonably well?
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