Kilimanjaro Day 7: Upward Bound – The Final Ascent Begins With School Hut

Kilimanjaro Dwarfs Tiny Third Cave Camp
Kilimanjaro Dwarfs Tiny Third Cave Camp

DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS

    • Our night at Third Cave Camp was pristine, with nary a patter of precipitation or wind. There were rock strata about a 50 yards from the camp, and I popped out of the tent at 5ish, switched on my headlamp and meandered through the shrub to climb the formations, tripod and camera in hand, then snapped away as the sun rose over our near perfect view of the Southeastern side of Kilimanjaro, as the camp slowly woke up over the next couple hours.
Cooking And Mess Tents At Sunrise - Third Cave. You can see the rock formations I climbed for the early AM photos of Kili.
Cooking And Mess Tents At Sunrise – Third Cave. You can see the rock formations I climbed for the early AM photos of Kili.
Sunrise Bands On Kilimanjaro Above Our Sleeping Tents
Sunrise Bands On Kilimanjaro Above Our Sleeping Tents
CLICK TO EXPAND - Pano of Kili and Third Cave Ravine and Camp
CLICK TO EXPAND – Sunrise Pano of Kili and Third Cave Ravine and Camp
    • Third Cave amounted to base camp – our last full night of sleep before we summited the mountain, and the beginning of a LONG period of hiking. In the morning after breakfast, we would ascend from 13,000 feet to Outward Bound School Hut 15,500 feet, have lunch, nap, have dinner, then at 11pm, make the summit attempt. We marched out of camp at 8:27am and into the Kibo saddle that separated multipoint Mawenzi Peak on our left, and Kili Kibo Crater (the summit) on our right. The land quickly transitioned into the surface of the moon, strewn with rocks and virtually no flora to be seen.
To School Hut
To School Hut
The Ascent To School Hut Begins
The Ascent To School Hut Begins
    • After about 1200 feet ascent, we were a little shocked to see the remains of a cape buffalo, eyes wide open staring at the sky. JT explained that around 2012, the buffalo had come up to the high elevation (around 14,200 feet) to lick the sodium ash and gotten its horns stuck in the crag; the folks at nearby Kibo Hut had heard it, but there were no attempts to free it, as the cape buffalo is universally noted as one of the meanest animals in Africa, not afraid to charge vehicles, toss big cats…and people around with its horns. It died after a few days…the corpse had no horns and had obviously been pulled out of where it had died and propped up on the rock. Kinda surreal.
Cape Buffalo Remains On The Ascent To School Hut
Cape Buffalo Remains On The Ascent To School Hut
    • At some point, we crossed 14,500 feet, higher than Mt Whitney, the highest point on the continental US, and officially marking the highest any of us had ever climbed. Everyone was doing great, including Caryl, now fully recovered from her headaches, albeit still fighting her sinuses.
Alex and Irina At Mt Whitney Elevation 14,500 feet
Alex and Irina At Mt Whitney Elevation 14,500 feet
Mawenzi Shrouded In Clouds On Our Way To School Hut
Mawenzi Shrouded In Clouds On Our Way To School Hut
    • We were now climbing loose scree, a sign of what we’d be climbing on our ascent. Again, pole pole pace to the rescue prevented the steps from sapping our energy the way loose gravel can, and at length we spotted School Hut camp above, nestled in the rocks…our base camp for the summit attempt. We came into camp around 11:30am, signed in, had lunch and listened to JT’s briefing. “Get your naps in between lunch and dinner, and after dinner – we’ll be starting the summit climb at 11pm” Though it alternated between sun superheating our tents and drifting snow and mist, we hit the hay and did our best. All the days on the mountain were finally coming to fruition!
Criscrossing Scree To Schoolk Hut In The Distance
Criscrossing Scree To School Hut In The Distance
School Hut Above Us at 15,500 feet
School Hut Above Us at 15,500 feet. It’s Like Moon Up Here!.
Socks Dry Out At School Hut (15,500 feet). It's Almost Summit Time!
Socks Dry Out At School Hut (15,500 feet). It’s Almost Summit Time!

FAQ:
How did you book this epic journey?
Through Peak Planet, the best reviewed agency we found. Researching the Kili guiding is an exercise is due diligence – but something to consider is the treatment of porters and guides helping you up the mountain. The cheaper operators have a reputation for porters and guides with tattered clothing, substandard shoes, and not getting paid for the many days away from their families. From all testimonials and references, Peak Planet is the opposite of that, working with the African Walking Company to ensure good treatment while keeping the prices reasonable. I have zero stake in Peak Planet, but the blog should speak for itself – the guides and porters were excellent, friendly, helpful, courteous, etc. all you could ask for on such a comprehensive undertaking.

What camera did you use?
The Fuji XT-1 mirrorless APS-C with an 18-135mm lens. All of it heavily weather resistant, unstopped by rain, freezing cold, sleet, or altitude. I did bring 4 extra batteries, kept warm in a wool sock…which proved to be good for the whole 9 day mountain journey.

Kilimanjaro Day 6: African Sunrise, Kenyan Plains, Nuclear Bomb Clouds, and Third Cave

African Sunrise On Mt Kilimanjaro
African Sunrise On Mt Kilimanjaro

DAY 5 HIGHLIGHTS

    • Buffalo Camp, situated above the Kenyan Plains, made for the best morning on Kilimanjaro so far, with unobstructed views of Kilimanjaro swathed in snow above us, orange African sunrise to the West, and grand views of the Kenyan landscape below, rolling hills dotted with trees. I spent two hours before everyone was up snapping the changing views as the sun rose.
Kilimanjaro - Buffalo Camp
Kilimanjaro From Buffalo Camp
Sunbeams Pierce The Kenyan Plains Below Buffalo Camp
Sunbeams Pierce The Kenyan Plains Below Buffalo Camp
Kenyan Plains
CLIK TO EXPAND: PANO – Kenyan Plains

BW Kenyan Plains From Buffalo Camp

    • We set out into–what else–a misty undulating traverse to Third Cave Camp at 13,000 feet. However, unlike our other hikes of recent days, the mist cleared out, and we were left with spectacular views above the clouds the whole way – the views hike we’d imagined when we all signed up. Caryl was on day 3 of splitting headache, and at the end of the day, she recalled very little of our best hike segment so far.
Up Through Boulders On The Way To Third Cave
Up Through Boulders On The Way To Third Cave
3rd Cave Hike Was an Up And Downer
Third Cave Hike Was an Up And Downer, And the Views Didn’t Suck
Said and JT, Goofing on The Third Cave Traverse
Said and JT, Goofing on The Third Cave Traverse
Third Cave Traverse Down A Ravine To The Kenyan Plains
Third Cave Traverse Down A Ravine To The Kenyan Plains
    • At some point, we came over a ridge and got our first glimps of Mawenzi, the second of three volcanic cones that make up Kilimanjaro. The first, you may recall from earlier posts, was Shira, of which the Shira Plateau represents the collapsed caldera. Mawenzi, like Shira, is also extinct. It is only climbable via technical gear, but JT indicated that after a fatal attempt in 1989, the Tanzanian park service cut it off from any climbing. Kibo is still active, with gas still emitting from its crater and represent the highest of the volcanic cones. At any rate, the sight of Mawenzi was pretty awe inspiring the way it sat across the mountain from us.
Team Sees Mwenzi, 3rd Cave Traverse
Team Sees Mawenzi, Third Cave Traverse
    • Eventually, we came to gash in the side of the hill that was First Cave. We made our snack/lunch break there. The cloud formations below were pretty amazing, including a big nuclear bomb shaped cloud rising above the rest.
Snacktime At First Cave:  L to R, Paul, Cort,Alex, JT, Rhys,Kitt,Said,Caryl
Snacktime At First Cave: L to R, Paul, Irina, Cort,Rhys, JT, Alex, Viviano, Said,Caryl, Kitt
Viviano and The Nuclear Bomb Cloud, Traverse To Third Cave
Viviano and The Nuclear Bomb Cloud, Traverse To Third Cave
  • At last, across a wide ravine, we saw Third Cave. The camp was situated at such a steep mountain angle, the whole thing looked a little sideways, but it was sunny, and we relished a relaxing afternoon and evening. The real ascent up Kilimanjaro would begin tomorrow. In the meantime, Caryl and JT chatted, and Caryl became team member #4 on Diamox to ease her headaches. We would see the next day.
    Across The Ravine, Third Cave Camp At Last, On A Tilted Mountain Angle
    Across The Ravine, Third Cave Camp At Last, On A Tilted Mountain Angle

    FAQ:
    How did you book this epic journey?
    Through Peak Planet, the best reviewed agency we found. Researching the Kili guiding is an exercise is due diligence – but something to consider is the treatment of porters and guides helping you up the mountain. The cheaper operators have a reputation for porters and guides with tattered clothing, substandard shoes, and not getting paid for the many days away from their families. From all testimonials and references, Peak Planet is the opposite of that, working with the African Walking Company to ensure good treatment while keeping the prices reasonable. I have zero stake in Peak Planet, but the blog should speak for itself – the guides and porters were excellent, friendly, helpful, courteous, etc. all you could ask for on such a comprehensive undertaking.

What camera did you use?

  • The Fuji XT-1 mirrorless APS-C with an 18-135mm lens. All of it heavily weather resistant, unstopped by rain, freezing cold, sleet, or altitude. I did bring 4 extra batteries, kept warm in a wool sock…which proved to be good for the whole 9 day mountain journey.