We’re sharing our report of our Mount Kilimanjaro on the Lemosho Route for 7 days/6 nights. Check out our trip report for the final stretch of our journey on Days 6-7. Refer to: Trip Report Days 1-2; Trip Report Days 3-5
Related post: Why Mount Kilimanjaro is Awesome and Challenging
Day 6 – January 3, 2017
Summit Day was similar to running a marathon:
- You have a hard time sleeping the night before due to the excitement and anxiety.
- Once you start the race, you feel strong and run/sprint past everyone. The pace is blowing away what was done in training.
- In the middle of the run, the pace slows down due to the cockiness of running fast in the beginning and you wonder why you put yourself through torture.
- Once you cross the finish line, you’re over the run and vow never to do another one.
- After some sleep and rest, the high endorphins kick in and you instantly want to sign up for another one.
What a slow climb up the mountain. Hundreds of people walked up, and we looked like ants marching up the hill with their headlamps. From Top Climbers Expedition, we had Jacob, Ally, and Meck, a guide in training, join us for the hike.
Thank goodness our Top Climbers Expedition team chose a camping location at the highest camping area possible. We didn’t have to make the long journey up the mountain from the bottom (and past the registration area).
Jacob and Ally reminded us prior to the hike to keep on going. We didn’t need to stop whenever someone had to turn around back down the mountain or if groups needed to pass.
Even though we were prepared with our layers of clothes, the weather was blisteringly cold and super windy. Fingers and toes were continuously cold and hard to wiggle while loosing feeling. Luckily this was the first the rain clouds decided to take a break.
We wore 6 layers of clothes – wool long sleeve baselayer, R1 jacket, Houdini, Nano Puff, Marmot Windstopper, and rain jacket with hoodie. For pants – wool baselayer, Uniqlo leggings (not moisture wicking or wool, but I needed another layer), hiking pants, and rain pants. I had a Windstopper beanie and fleece ear covers, while Justin’s R1 and Nano Puff were hoodies. A Buff neck gaiter helped with covering my face, but my nose dripped every second due to the wind. I had to breathe through my nose and out through my mouth, making my Buff a “humidifier.” More information on our packing list is here.
The pace was extremely “pole pole” for the first half of the hike almost to the point of sleepwalking. Leslie, my sister, had challenges such as overheating from her long parka and frozen Camelback tube, so we separated. Jacob and Meck stayed with her, while Ally took Justin and I. Oxygen levels were so low that Justin had to take three breaths for every step; and every three steps he took a few seconds break.
We saw the beautiful sunrise at 6:30am. We proceeded along the trail and didn’t stop to enjoy or take a photo. Ally said to continue to the Summit sign and not stop, even though many groups stopped at Stella Point (5756m / 18,885 ft elevation) first for a break.
It was another 15 to 20 minutes to reach the summit sign. It was extremely cold. Our sunglasses had frost and ice over the lenses. We took off our gloves to insert the batteries into our GoPro and camera and our hands felt like they would freeze off.
We did it! Once we reached the summit, we hugged Ally and snapped our picture at Uhuru Peak (5895m / 19,341 ft elevation). What a sight and relief! The celebration was short-lived since we couldn’t stay at the top too long due to winds.
On our way back down, we saw Leslie, Meck, and Jacob. We took a photo at Stella Point and continued down the mountain. It was extremely steep. We didn’t realize how steep it was on the way up and in the dark.
At this point, we were fatigued and had altitude sickness with headaches. Going down in the beginning of the descent was slow due to the small rocks. Ally helped me “ski” (more of a fast shuffle) down together on the scree slope. We lost Justin along the way as he took rest breaks and found cell phone signal to post on Instagram. Thank you, Project Fi! (Use our referral link if you’re interested.)
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The Top Climbers Expedition team congratulated us when we reached back to camp. Leslie also made it back an hour after we did. What a long journey! We had lunch at Barafu Camp even though we weren’t too hungry.
We headed to our next and final camp. Whoever designed the trail from Barafu must have wanted to torture everyone. The distance to Mweka Camp written at the Barafu Gate was written purposely shorter than the actual distance to encourage visitors to take the path. It took 3-4 hours to arrive at Mweka Camp (3100m / 10,171 ft elevation). The first quarter of the hike was flat as we came down from Barafu Camp. We passed another camp, but it was still at high altitude over 4000m. Most people didn’t stay here overnight. Then, we went down a path with lots of big rocks. It was hard on the knees even with hiking poles. I was hoping my left knee wouldn’t give out especially after my recent scooter crash and surgery.
At Mweka Camp, one of the porters, Mandela, showed us the secret spot to receive data for our smartphone. We updated our status with completing the summit!
We collapsed and slept at 8pm.
Total walking distance covered: 18.1km / 11.3 miles (10.6km / 6.6 miles Summit & 7.6km / 4.7 miles to Mweka Camp)
Day 7 – January 4, 2017
Sleep never felt so good! Woke up refreshed and ready to climb another mountain. Just kidding.
It was bittersweet to have our last porridge meal for breakfast. We were used to eating it for the week.
As the final farewell and celebration of our experience, Top Climbers Expedition team sang the Mount Kilimanjaro tipping ceremony song. You’ll hear the same song echoed throughout the campsite from other groups. Ally, one of our guides, led the song and he did an awesome job! Each of us expressed our gratitude and many thanks to the team, and ended with calling out everyone’s names to distribute their hard earned tip.
We took a few group pictures before everyone packed up and headed to Mweka Gate. We hustled/trotted down the hill in a walk/run pace to arrive at the registration desk before the large crowds arrived. Otherwise, it would be waiting for a few hours like on the first day at the Londorossi gate.
Once we reached the gate, Ally and Jacob signed a registration book, and we also signed the visitor’s book and our Summit Day completion time. The Top Climbers Expedition team left prior and we headed back to Moshi in a separate vehicle.
Manase Mwaga, Top Climbers Expedition owner, delivered our laminated certificates of completion at the hotel. Each certificate is customized with our names, times, and own serial number.
The experience on the Mount Kilimanjaro is treasured in our hearts. It was worth the journey and stormy weather to reach the Summit. We can’t express enough how much fun (yet sometimes miserable with the weather) it was to spend on the mountain.
Thank you Mount Kilimanjaro! You will be missed, but never forgotten.
Total walking distance covered: 8.5km / 5.3 miles
Would you consider hiking Mount Kilimanjaro? Let us know why you would like to climb it in the comments.