At the Summit of Mount Kilimanjaro Africa

I have to clarify a giant misconception about Mt. Kilimanjaro. It is not easy! We were climbing in a group of 7 strong individuals who had just finished cycling 4500 km in tough conditions from deserts in Sudan, to altitude in Ethiopia and we all agree, it was one of the most physically challenging experiences of our lives. However, also one of the most exhilarating. I am happy to say that we all made it to the summit. Congrats to Rod and Dave P, Connor, Bent, Kristen, Dave and Me! What a great fun group.

To give you an idea of what we were up against, there was another group of 22 people at our camp during our descent and only 9 reached the summit.  We passed several parties on our way down after reaching the top who were throwing up, giving up and wanting to go on, but had no chance of making it because they just had too far to go. Bent saw the rescue stretcher being carried up as well, (don’t know what happened there), and we all saw this one guy literally being carried up by his guide. Crazy!

couple at mount kilimanjaro in Africa

Dave and Deb on Mount Kilimanjaro Trek

man above clouds on mount kilimanjaro

Dave conquering mount kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa

I have to admit, we were a pretty solid group and our guide Coleman had great confidence in us. Leaving camp at midnight, we pushed slowly but steadily on through the night,  reaching the summit at our precise goal of 6:00 am.

It wasn’t a cake walk though. At about 5500 metres, we all started feeling it. We would gasp for air and collapse to the ground trying to catch our breath during what short breaks we had. A couple of us had diarrhea, Rod had an out of body experience, both Dave’s were literally falling asleep as they were walking and we all just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. But we carried on. Coleman would only give us a limited break, probably knowing that we wouldn’t get back up if we stayed for too long.

Reaching the summit was a quick and unglamorous event. It was -24 without the wind. We all decided that it must have been -40 degrees with the windchill. We snapped some photos by the sign as our hands quickly froze and then we headed back down ASAP.

Here is where the work began. We had already been climbing since midnight and we had 2 1/2 hours down to camp 1 where we were allowed a 1 1/2 rest before we had to pack up and head down again to our final camp at 3000 meters, another 3-4 hour hike. Unbelievable!

woman climbing western breach mount kilimanjaro

Deb tackling mount kilimanjaro’s western breach in Africa

The day before our summit wasn’t easy either. We gained a lot of altitude then. We scaled the side of a cliff and were pretty sure that this was where quite a few people must fall. We walked for a total of 5 hours, ate dinner and had a fitful sleep while we waited for our 11:15 pm wake up call. So really, as Rod said, it was a punishing 30 hours.

The descent was steep and slippery. I must have fallen 15 times. The fatigue was huge and mis-steps happened a lot. Descending is hard. Hard on the knees, the calves, the thighs and the mind. You have already had the glory of summiting so you are so over the climb now and just want it to be done. We finally made it to our tents by 3:30 and were ready to collapse. OK, most of us collapsed, Dave P and Connor had some celebratory drinks with our guides.

15 1/2 hours of solid pain and fatigue. Literally one of the hardest things I have done in my life. We were joking on the way down that we must look like we didn’t make it. All of us just walked in a Daze. Even when our guides congratulated us, it was more like a quick “Oh, thanks, right, I just summitted” I was too worried about taking a nap and getting rid of my cough and trying to find a rock to crap behind- because yes, I was one of us who was suffering from diarrhea.

mount kilimanjaro glacier in Tanzania Africa

Sunrise over the glacier of Mount Kilimanjaro

We relaxed in camp for the night and had a little champagne and wine to celebrate and we were asleep by 8:00 pm. The last day was a quick walk to the park gate where we had a beer at 9:45 am. bought the T-shirt (“Just Done It” Kilimanjaro) and hopped in the van back to Moshi.

Yes it was hard and we all said “never again” but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dave and I are sitting at home all nice and cozy one day in the future forgetting all of the pain and agony and we say to ourselves…”Hey, let’s tackle another one.” Even now as I sit in paradise in the beautiful island of Zanzibar recounting my experience, It doesn’t seem like it was that bad. I am telling everyone, that it was amazing and no problem, they could do it. My legs have already recovered, I enjoyed my pina colada upon my arrival and waded in the turquoise waters as fishing boats rocked gently on the waves. Ahhh, Kilimanjaro was magical and now we feel like we could conquer anything.

But first, we must chill. Hakuna Matata (No Problem)


You may also like

From our partners
Leave a comment

43 Comments

  1. David Hill

    Awesome! I’m not sure I would get past the front gate! You guys are made of steel…no Iron!….no ALIEN METEORITES stronger than anything on this planet! Oh in case you haven’t heard we’ve got the most snow since 1939…close to being the most snow ever recorded!
    Hakuna Matada!

  2. Lorri & Shawn

    WHOO HOO! Now there’s your EFI that you’ve been wanting!

    From all of us, “CONGRATULATIONS!”

    We were at Casa Horton Friday Night celebrating your summit, cause we knew you’de do it.
    I figured you were summitting Saturday morning “your time”, and with 8 hours time difference, and possibly a 6am summit sunrise would be 10pm Friday Night “our time”.

    Ange, Phil, Lisa, Darren, Shawn and I (Jen & Joe were away for the weekend) were all tipping our glasses and celebrating your suceess.

    Actually, Ange and I drank ALOT of red wine in your honour, and Shawn drank ALOT of beer in Dave’s honour. That’s when we decided to try and text you anyways, even knowing you probably wouldn’t get it.

    I had planned a get together for you guys summitting Friday Night, Shawn had other plans…he has planned a surprise birthday party for me. It was really great…small and intimate with our closest friends. The only thing missing was you guys.

    We’re always thinking of you…LOL

    Be Safe!

    Congratulations and Much Love,
    Shawn & Lorri
    Ange & Phil
    Darren & Lisa
    Jenny & Joe
    and all the kids
    XO

  3. Mitch Belman

    You guys are an inspiration to us all! Congratulations on the whole trip – the cycle journey and the trip up Kiliminjaro – and the lifetime of memories you’ll bring home. Can’t wait to see you!

  4. Paula

    Uhhh- the rest of us SANe people know climbing Kilimanjaro is a ridiculous thing- it is only crazies like you who actually attempt to do such things. So proud of you two- didn’t doubt you could do it for a second. um…holy crap, you two are dropping weight like crazy- eat something!!!

  5. Jim & Marlene Corbeil

    Way to go!!! What an experience. So glad you are back down and getting some relaxation. Love Mom and Dad

  6. John & Lois Bouskill

    Congratulations! You two are awesome. So glad you made it to the ‘summit’ – what a wonderful accomplishment. You’ve made some wonderful memories – we’re so glad you are back down and enjoying the beach and a few ‘cold ones’. Be safe – Love you both – Mom & Dad

  7. John & Lois Bouskill

    Dave – your photos are incredible – we hardly recognized both of you – you’ve lost so much weight – what are you missing the most? Wine? Beer? You will surely make up the weight when you get home – Love Mom

  8. Dewey

    Deb and Dave,
    Truly INCREDIBLE that you climbed Kilimanjaro. Too bad the view was so shitty.
    Dew

  9. Kiwi Princess

    Congrats Team Dave and Deb!
    I knew you could both do it and I am sure you had a blast with the other five ladz from TDA. I can just imagine some of your conversations as you all climbed the beast. Anyway, now let’s get back to business…..you have a race to complete and Dave I expect great things from you and Miss Deb ..keep that fire burning..I want to see a winning smile in Cape Town.
    Wish I was with you guys.
    Love ya..miss ya
    Janet

  10. teresa

    You guys look great Im sure once you get home for a while you will get the wander lust again enjoy yourselves and take care
    Love The Wilson family

  11. Carley Corbeil

    I am really missing you guys!! Chase and I got really good report cards,I got 3 A,s. Keep up the good work. May the winds be to your backs!!! mom reads the field writers everyday and keeps our family updated.
    Love, Carley

    1. davendeb

      So true. It is on that summit day that everything falls apart. You think you are doing great and then suddenly at about 5300 meters the altitude really kicks in. Your legs feel like lead and every step was so difficult. It is really slow moving to say the least. Congrats on summiting!

  12. Rasheed Hooda

    Thanks for the great read. I will keep in mind what you went through when I dare my first climb next week. It is more like a hike up the hill than a mountain climb, but it’s a 8.4 miles (13.5 kilometers) trek to the summit of Guadalupe Peak, the highest point in Texas at 8749 ft (2625 meters).

    You’ll know if I made it next week when I get back. :)

    PS: I am delayed in getting you the questions because of the preparations, sorry about that.

  13. Cam

    We are looking to go September 2010. Which tour group did you go with and would you recommend them? Thanks for the detailed account and the video. It was great to get an idea of what we’re up against. Thanks!

    1. davendeb

      We climbed with Kessey Brothers Tours based out of Moshi. They were fantastic and very reasonable. We landed at Kilimanjaro airport took a taxi to Moshi and booked with Kessy. They put us up for the night and we were climbing the next day. Very safe, very honest and very accommodating.

  14. Erin

    I’m glad you put this out there Dave and Deb! It is one of the hardest things you will do in your life.
    We run a fundraising hike to Kilimanjaro offering the chance to climb the mountain and support childrens projects at the same time. The next hike is in January 2010.

    Feedback from the hike is that it is such an amazing personal achievement to make it up one of the most prestigious climbs of the world!

    Well done you two!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Erin. What an amazing thing to run a fundraising hike. Yes, people seem to think that climbing Kilimanjaro is a walk in the park. My sister even said “don’t you mean walk..I hear that it isn’t that hard” when I told her I was going to climb it… It is one of the hardest things that you will ever do in your life, especially on summit day. But it is also one of the most fulfilling events of your life as well. Cheers.

  15. Lisa

    Hi Deb,

    We made it to the top! Kessy Brothers was fantastic, they really took care of us from the moment we landed at the Kilimanjaro Airport to our 4am departure a week later. Thank you so very much for your help! Thanks again and good luck with your future adventures.
    Lisa

  16. Pingback: Mount Kilimanjaro

  17. Omer

    hey there.
    what time of the year you guys did it?

    i plan to do climb Kili 04/2010.
    Do you have any comments about the weather?

    1. davendeb

      We climbed at the beginning of March. The weather was excellent. Hot starting off, cool as we went up. We had a little rain one night, but it was minimal. The views were great, and our summit day was cold as it will be at that altitude anyway… We guessed around -25 with windchill. Our water froze! Dress warm and have an awesome trip!

  18. Pingback: guadalupe peak

  19. Pingback: The Island Paradise of Zanzibar: Snapshot Sunday | The Planet D: Around the World Adventure Couple

  20. Pingback: Things to do in Tanzania | The Planet D: Around the World Adventure Couple

  21. Pingback: 12 Greatest Places to Visit in Africa, Part 1 | The Planet D: Around the World Adventure Couple

  22. Pingback: 1 Week at Rancho La Puerta, California - The Planet D: Around the World Adventure Couple

  23. Oksana

    Wow! What an incredible mind over body experience! Congratulations, is a remarkable achievement!

    My husband and I are currently traveling through Africa as part of our year-long around-the-world trip. I know that he really wants to do the Kilimanjaro climb but I cannot make up my mind on this one. It sounds like the level of difficulty is pretty well matched up with the price tag. It would be very disappointing (emotionally and financially) to not make it to the summit.

    1. davendeb

      You can do it Oksana. If you book with Kessey Brothers direct in Moshi, you will save a lot of money and if you give yourself the days needed and not push through in 4 or 5, you have a very good chance of summitting. We feel that it was one of the best things we have done in our lives.

  24. Pingback: How to Travel on a Budget

  25. Eirik

    I reached the summit a month ago. It was a great trek, and, at least I think so, not that hard. Maybe I’m one of the lucky ones, but I had no sickness whatsoever. The only thing I noticed was the thin air. In the end Kililmanjaro is really worth it. Just go. If you just want it enough, you will make it (unless you get too sick, of course). And also, to me, the whole trek is the experience of Kilimanjaro, not just the summit – the people, the scenery, everything.

    Best,
    Eirik, Norway

  26. Pingback: Memorable Adventure Travel Moments

  27. Pingback: Kilimanjaro Quest Becomes Heifer Fundraiser | Heifer Blog

  28. Pingback: how difficult is it to climb mount kilimanjaro | Seven Second Summits

  29. Pingback: How Difficult Is It To Climb Mt Kilimanjaro | Seven Second Summits

  30. Pingback: How Hard Is It To Climb Mount Kilimanjaro | Seven Second Summits

  31. Pingback: Myanmar Visa » Amboseli – Kenya’s Royal Court

  32. Pingback: Amboseli – Kenya’s Royal Court | Visa for Tourist

  33. Pingback: Amboseli – Kenya’s Royal CourtNoi that Fami - N?i th?t Fami | Noi that Fami

  34. Pingback: Amboseli - Kenya's Royal Court | Travel Blog | The Planet D

Comments are closed.