Kilimanjaro Day 7: Summit!!! On top of Africa!

Jambo from the roof of Africa and the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, Uhuru Peak at an altitude of 5895m/19,340ft. We made it to the Summit and safely back to Millenium Camp after a long and arduous journey.

Joe Ashkar at Uhuru Peak, Mt Kilimanjaro, the top of Africa.

We left high camp shortly after midnight in unusually cold and windy conditions. As we worked our way up the mountain in the darkness of the night lit up only by our headlamps and moonlight, the wind started blowing harder and the temperature continued to drop. Our hourly rest stops were reduced to a few minutes in order to keep our bodies moving and conserve the warmth. Unfortunately, three of our team members dropped out and opted to get back to camp while the rest got broken up into two teams.

I was on the leading team along with Leslie, Mandy, James, Don and our guides Ben and Mathew. I kept pushing for the unusually fast climbing pace with short rest stops in order to stay warm and keep our momentum going. By 6:25 AM, we were standing on the Summit, a little over 6 hours after we had left high camp, great time!

Joe Ashkar and Ben Jones on top of Kilimanjaro/Uhuru Peak.

According to our guides, it was one of the coldest night they ever experienced on the mountain with wind speed up to 60km per hour/35mph and a temperature of -15 degrees celsius/5 Fahrenheit. Despite the cold, we still celebrated on the Summit, taking many spectacular pictures including my customary shirtless photo 😉

After spending 25 minutes on top of the African continent, we started our descent back to our camp and it wasn’t for the faint of heart. The views were quite amazing but the slope was pretty steep and gravely, we were effectively skiing and sliding for 2+ hours making our way back to Kosovo Camp where we were greeted and celebrated by our porters and Tanzanian crew.

At the Summit with the shadow of Kilimanjaro in the clouds below.

Descending from the Summit.

After a few hours of rest and waiting for the rest of the team to come back from the Summit, we continued descending all the way down to Millenium Camp at an altitude of 3810m/12,500ft. On the day, we ascended and descended a combined total of 3350m/11,000ft. By the time we made in back to Millenium Camp for dinner, many team members were so exhausted they skipped dinner and immediately crashed into their tents.

The long and steep way down.

Tomorrow we continue our descent down the mountain through a wet and muddy rain forest and make our way to the Mweka Gate where we will celebrate with a nice lunch before a two-hour drive back to Arusha.

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