Category Page: 7 Summits

7 Summits Ebook- Now 100% Free

For the last 6 months or so I’ve been working on putting together an e-book with detailed information on everything you need to know on climbing the 7 Summits. I was planning on releasing it a month ago and selling it for $4 or $5 bucks. Something kept holding me back though.. I couldn’t work out what it was. Today I finally realised why, I would feel like a hypocrite.

I’ve always been adamant about never taking advice from someone who hasn’t done what it is they are advising about.. I’ve always learned most from biographies, where the author has truly lived what they are writing. That I find, is where the best lessons lie. Now here I was, going to do exactly what I have been against my whole life. I was writing a guide on how to climb the 7 Summits, when I haven’t accomplished the goal myself.. Therefore, I’ve decided against the idea of publishing the ebook.

Instead, I will upload all the information that I’ve spent countless hours researching to my site, 100% free. All the info is from experts and only the most credible sources, with links where appropriate. Instead of charging, I simply ask that if you find the content worthwhile, consider donating a few dollars to the 7 Summits Project. All proceeds will go towards funding education projects in Nepal (and all donations are tax deductible 😉

I’ll put all the stuff up over the next few weeks so hopefully you’ll find some use for it and all that time I spent doesn’t go to waste!

Climbing Mt Elbrus

This is an article I wrote for WA Today on my experience Climbing Mt Elbrus, Europe’s highest peak.

Mount Elbrus is a dormant volcano situated in south-western Russia, some 30 kilometres from the hostile border region with Georgia. It is also in proximity to Chechnya , making its slopes a key target of terrorist attacks since the war of independence in 1994.

Elbrus reaches 5642 metres high and is the highest mountain in Europe. It is therefore a member of the Seven Summits, the third I was to tackle in my goal to climb them all by 2018.

Climbing_Mt_Elbrus

Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I’ve also managed to knock off the formidable peak of Mount Kosciuszko, Australia’s highest anthill. It was a truly epic struggle but, after several hours, we managed to reach the top, polishing off a six-pack along the way. I think the total round-trip was five to six hours.

Mount Kosciuszko is a much disputed member of the Seven Summits, I believe mainly due to its ease rather than any geographic reasoning. Carstensz Pyramid in Papua, which is much higher and harder, is claimed by many to lie within the continent of “Australasia”.

Being a circumstantially patriotic Australian, I choose to believe Australia is a continent in its own right, making Kozi one of the seven. I also didn’t want to splash out the $15,000 to make the trip to Papua.

Mount Elbrus was a different proposition all together, often taking between 15 and 30 lives on its slopes annually. The weather is temperamental at best, with temperatures dipping down to minus 30 on its summit on some occasions. It is also around two and a half times the height of Kozi, making altitude another factor to contend with.

Mt Kosciuszko

I was lucky enough to have Crazy Domains back on board as my sponsor for this trip, so on the last day of June, I was off on the 19-hour plane trip to the world’s largest consumer of soup.

Russia exceeded all expectations. The locals, while not necessarily friendly, were far less hostile than I had expected. The city of Moscow is amazing, with incredible architecture everywhere you look and the feeling that you could never run out of things to explore and see. The girls aren’t too hard on the eye either.

The Caucasus range, which Elbrus lies at the top of, is absolutely spectacular. The small town of Terskol, our first destination, sits in a valley surrounded by towering, snow drenched peaks. It also has a raging river passing through it, sourced from high in the mountains. Would have made for some fantastic white-water rafting but we were here for another purpose this time round.

11745741_857731157642977_2327287078323802168_n

Conditions on day five were perfect… at first. 

The group spent a few days acclimatising to the altitude on surrounding peaks and on Elbrus itself before we were ready to attempt to reach the summit. We kicked off at three o’clock in the morning on day five and spent the next four or so hours climbing in beautiful morning conditions.

At around the 5,000-metre mark, things started to change.

A blizzard rolled in, bringing white-out conditions which we endured right through to the end of the descent. It actually was a blessing at times, the long drop-offs we were climbing next to were obscured from view, saving us from looking down at where we would end up if we were to fall.

The ledges were very narrow at some points, only about half a metre wide and we were forced to clip into safety lines as the ground turned to icy rock. Without these, one slight foot misplacement would mean a very long slide, likely to be the last mistake you’d ever make.

After around eight hours we sauntered up the last steep slope to the summit, the highest point in Europe. It was a fantastic feeling and one I’m really starting to become addicted to. A number of our group made it but unfortunately a few had succumbed to the altitude and were forced to descend early.

Even at the top I was feeling pretty strong, all those laps of Jacob’s Ladder certainly paid off. Feeling fit and in control on the descent is pretty important as this is where most tragedies occur. It’s easy to see how people can take their eyes off the ball after struggling to reach the top and simply lose their focus on the way down.

We all made it down safely after another four or so hours (contending with a hailstorm on the last section) and I was fortunate enough to find a supply of beer. This drinking spell continued upon waking up at seven the next morning, right through until midnight. It was not a pretty sight by that stage, for me or the majority of our group, so that’s all I have to say about that.

While reaching the summit was the main goal, the real highlight of the trip for me were the people I was fortunate enough to climb Elbrus with. I’d never experienced a trip like this in such a large group (ours was around 15 strong) but I was incredibly fortunate everyone there had the same goal in mind and were confident yet humble in achieving it.

It was a diverse mix, Americans, Italians, Brits, Finnish, Swedish. I was the sole Australian which seems to be pretty rare these days wherever I travel. By the time we were down a few of us had already planned the next trip, Mount Aconcagua in South America. Already I’m brimming with anticipation about getting out there again and seeing what new experiences it has to offer.

 

From WA TODAY..

Mr Hudson will take to a treadmill and “climb” the height of Mount Everest at a charity event on August 15 and 16.

He will complete the stunt as part of the annual Save the Children book sale held at UWA’s Hackett Hall. Members of the public are invited to walk on a treadmill alongside Mr Hudson and donate funds to be used for education projects in Nepal.

Read more: http://www.watoday.com.au/wa-news/perth-mountaineer-conquered-europes-tallest-peak-then-he-cracked-a-beer-20150729-gimvsm.html#ixzz3hMXEhlIU

Mt Kilimanjaro: A Guide to Climbing Africa’s Highest Peak

This post is an extract from an e-book I’m writing on climbing the 7 Summits. It’s a brief guide with all the essential details and tricks of the trade needed to successfully climb each mountain. As I’m still embarking on my own quest to climb them, the information is sourced from experts and reputable sources around the web, from books and through interviews I’ve researched. I originally started collecting the info for my own pursuit but thought it might be of use for others with the same goal. I’ve therefore decided to put it together into an e-book format and offer it at a very low cost (around $4).

Let me know what you think of this section, if there’s anything else you’d want included and if there’s anything here that could be done better. It will be ready for release on July 31st so keep an eye out!

 

Mt_Kilimanjaro_heading

Kilimanjaro 5,985m (19,341’)

Mt Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano located in Tanzania, just south of the Kenyan border. It holds the title of the largest freestanding mountain in the world, rising abruptly out of the flat plains that surround this giant monolith. It consists of 3 volcanic cones, the largest (and most commonly climbed) is ‘Kibo’, what many confuse to be Kilimanjaro itself.

It was first Climbed by German Hans Meyer in 1889 after 3 attempts. One stat that will probably blow the mind of anyone who’s climbed Kili; the speed record for fastest ascent/descent is 6 hours and 42 minutes, held by mountain guide Karl Egloff. The youngest to climb was American Keats Boyd, who reached the summit at the grand old age of 7.

The name Kilimanjaro and its origins are completely unknown, the local Wachagga people don’t even have a name for it. The main peak ‘Uhuru’, commonly mistaken for Kilimanjaro itself, was named after the Swahili word for ‘freedom’ soon after Tanzania gained independence.

There are 5 climatic zones you will encounter on a typical route up Kilimanjaro, spanning roughly 1,000m each;

Cultivated Zone(800m-1800m)- Due to the high annual rainfall and run-off rivers, this is used as farmland. There are a number of villages scattered around the base of the mountain, producing bananas and some of Africa’s best coffee.

Forest (1800m-2800m)- This is where most climbers begin there ascent. Again receiving high rainfall, this has given rise to a diverse array of flora and even fauna, although getting the chance to see any wildlife can be rare. Your best bet of seeing baboons, blue monkeys, elephants and buffalo are on the more remote routes such as Rongai.

Heather & Moorland (2800m-4000m)- Vegetation starts to thin out dramatically and a  large array of wildflowers can be viewed in this climatic zone at certain times of the year. The sun becomes much harsher and the strong U.V exposure can make climbing vary uncomfortable for those without the proper protection. This may also be the first time you spot the main peaks of Uhuru and Mawenzi rising up in front of you.

Highland Desert (4000m-5000m)- One of the strangest regions you may ever encounter, it truly is a desert, receiving less than 200ml of rainfall annually. There is little plantlife and the area is strewn with remnants of the volcanic activity that once took place here.

Arctic (5000m-5895m)- Arctic conditions in Africa? Once you make it up the steep scree path to the volcanic rim you will encounter the famous glaciers on top of Mt Kilimanjaro. These are vanishing rapidly and it is thought they may be gone altogether in 30 years. Truly a spectacular site, a once in a lifetime spectacle for many who make it this far.

 

Kili Fact: A frozen leopard was found on the summit ridge as immortalised in Hemingway’s Snows of Kilimanjaro. What it was doing there can only be guessed at, potential food sources had stopped over a vertical kilometre below. There have been reports of other local animals ascending high on Kilimanjaro, none which tops that impressive feat however.

 

Recommended Reading 

The Snows of Kilimanjaro: Ernest Hemmingway

Kilimanjaro: The trekkers guide to Africas highest mountain: Henry Stedman

Africa: A Biography of the Continent: John Reader

The Tree Where Man Was Born: Peter Matthiessen

 

Key Phrases to Learn

English is pretty prevalent in the region so you shouldn’t have too much trouble but it wouldn’t hurt to know a few words of the local Swahili dialect. At least you’ll be able to understand the guides when they’re talking to you..

Swahili_language

Swahili is the national language of the highlighted region above.

 

  • Hello = Jambo / hujambo / Salama
  • How are you? = Habari gani
  • Goodbye = Kwa heri / Kwa herini (more than one peson)
  • Goodnight = Lala salama
  • Thank you = Asante
  • Thank you very much = Asante sana
  • Please = Tafadhali
  • OK = Sawa
  • Excuse me = Samahani
  • Friend = Rafiki
  • Today = leo
  • Tomorrow = kesho
  • Yesterday = jana
  • I’d like = nataka …
  • Food = chakula
  • Water = maji
  • Meat = nyama
  • Chicken = nyama kuku
  • Fish = sumaki
  • Animal = wanyama
  • Lion= Simba
  • *Slowly= Pole Pole (A favourite phrase when hiking on Kilimanjaro)
  • Headache = umwa kichwa
  • Diarrhoea = harisha/endesha
  • Vomiting = tapika
  • Medicine = dawa
  • I’m sick = mimi ni mgonjwa
  • I need a doctor = nataka kuona daktari
  • It hurts here = naumwa hapa

 

Before the Climb

Getting There

There are several ways to get to Moshi, the town that sits at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro;

  • Fly direct to Kilimanjaro (JRO). Flights direct from Amsterdam, Nairobi and several other ports throughout Africa.
  • Bus Via Dar Es Salaam. Departs daily. The ride takes 7-8 hours and costs approximately $20. *You may want to splash out and buy 2 seats if you’re a larger person. The seats are pretty tiny.
  • Shuttle Via Nairobi. Crosses the Tanzanian border (which can be a mad-house). A host of different companies to choose from, all roughly the same price. The ride takes around 7 hours and costs around $40 one-way. Recommended companies are:

 

Visa

You can apply for a Tanzanian visa on arrival, either at the airport or border crossing if you are arriving from Kenya. Fees are $100 for U.S passport holders and $50 for basically everyone else. Make sure to bring a completed visa application form with you (can be downloaded from your local embassy website) and the exact amount in cash.

Technically, you are supposed to have proof of yellow fever inoculations in order to receive the visa. I believe this is fairly lax however (they never asked to see mine..lucky, because I didn’t have any!)

 

When to Climb

Technically you can trek up Mt Kilimanjaro year-round and most guided services (particularly local) will be happy to do the same. There are certainly periods that are more recommended than others, some guides shutting down over the less popular ones. Your choice will depend on whether you are happy with sharing the experience with a number of other climbers, or whether you wish to avoid crowds and put up with the conditions that drive them away.

The recommended (peak) climbing seasons correlate to the ‘dry seasons’, which run from January-March and June-October. For the most part, these months receive less rain than the rest of the year, the main deterrent for most prospective hikers. Other factors such as visibility and cold also play a factor in most people’s decision. Check the table below to see the inverse relationship between crowds and rainfall.

MONTH RAINFALL TEMPERATURE CROWDS
January Medium Warm High
February Medium Warm High
March High Moderate Low
April High Moderate Low
May High Moderate Low
June Medium Cold Medium
July Medium Cold High
August Low Cold High
September Low Moderate High
October Low Moderate Medium
November High Moderate Low
December Medium Moderate Medium

 

Choosing a Route

None of the other summits provide the plethora of routes available to novice climbers as on Kilimanjaro. There are predominantly 6 key routes on offer, certain guide operations may have a ‘unique’ option, although it tends to be a slight variant on one of those listed below.. From the landscape & wildlife, to crowds and acclimatisation factors, each of these offers a different experience and perspective on your traverse up Kilimanjaro.

*Most guides and other experienced trekkers recommend at least 7 days to ensure you are fully acclimatised and don’t succumb to altitude sickness on the way up.

Below are the Kilimanjaro success rates as reported by Kilimanjaro National Park (2006):

  • All climbers, all routes                   45%
  • All climbers, all 5 day routes         27%
  • All climbers, all 6 day routes        44%
  • All climbers, all 7 days routes       64%
  • All climbers, all 8 day routes        85%

 

Mt_Kilimanjaro_porters

There may be up to 7 or 8 porters per person on Kilimanjaro. You could get some solid football games going on up there..

 

Marangu (5-6 days)

The most popular Trek on Kilimanjaro (often termed the ‘coca-cola’ route) it is the oldest and most well-established, offering huts at each of the 3 camps along the way. Due to it’s popularity and the relative ‘comfort’ provided by the huts, it is usually full of other trekkers no matter what season you go (it is also used as the descent route from several others such as Rongai).

It’s generally seen as the ‘easiest’ due to the gentle slope that gradually works its way towards the summit. It is also the quickest, not only being closest to the township, but also because it is generally done in 5-6 days. This has a downside however, in that it offers less chance of acclimatisation, resulting in a lower summit success rate than some of the longer routes. This may also be influenced by a larger number of unfit and unprepared climbers choosing this option.

Pros

  • Cheapest
  • ‘Easiest’ (least physically demanding slope)
  • Dormitory style Huts (particularly useful during rainy season)

Cons

  • Poor acclimatisation
  • Crowded
  • Packed accommodation w/poor sanitation
  • Not the most diverse scenery

 

Machame (6-7 days)

Known as the ‘whiskey route’ (as opposed to the easier ‘coca cola’ offered by Marangu) it is the second, if not now the most popular route up the mountain. It is well known as one of the most beautiful routes, offering a variety of landscape visages, flora and fauna on the ascent, as well as on the descent down the Mweka route.

It is harder than Marangu, being steeper with longer days. Recommended to those who are pretty confident of their condition and ability to handle long days and fairly quick acclimatisation.

Pros

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Cost-effective 6 day option

Cons

  • High crowds
  • Physically harder

 

Shira (6-7 days)

Like the more popular Lemosho route, Shira kicks off on the western side of the mountains. It starts off as a 4wd track, with the option to drive right up to a starting elevation of 3,600m. This allows for the possibility of a shorter trek but often means problems with acclimatisation from day 1. From camp 2, it merges with the Machame route and also descends down Mweka. One of the less utilised routes, it means there are far less crowds

Pros

  • Less crowded
  • Great scenery

Cons

  • Altitude problems
  • More expensive

 

Lemosho (7-8 days)

One of the newer routes on the mountain and highly recommended from most guides and operators due a couple of key factors. Firstly, it requires a minimum of 7 days, meaning a slow & gradual ascent; great for acclimatisation. For this reason, it has the highest summit success rate out of any of the main options. Secondly, it is regarded as one of, if not the most scenic route on Kilimanjaro. Beginning in remote, wildlife filled rainforest, Lemosho slowly works up the west side of the mountain before descending south, offering great panoramic views of the mountain. However due to it’s location on the west side & the length of the trek, it is likely the most expensive option (probably another reason why guide operators love it).

Pros

  • High chance of summit success (due to acclimatisation)
  • Beautiful & diverse scenery
  • Less crowded (mostly during first 2 days)

Cons

  • Can be physically demanding (due to terrain and length of trek)
  • More expensive

 

Rongai (6-7 days)

Rongai is the only route that approaches Kilimanjaro from the north, meaning a long drive from Moshi to get to the starting point. On the positive side, this has traditionally meant far fewer crowds, although that is starting to change. Still classed as more of a wilderness route, Rongai is also seen as one of, if not the easiest option, a fairly gentle slope for the duration up to Kibo hut, where it joins Marangu for the final summit push.

Pros

  • The northern side sees less precipitation
  • Easy climb
  • Less crowded
  • High summit success rate (due to ease and ‘climb high-sleep low’ dynamic)

Cons

  • Seen as less scenic
  • More expensive than other 6-day options

Mt_kilimanjaro_view

Umbwe (6-7 days)

Approaching from the south side of the mountain, Ubwe is viewed as the hardest route, usually attracting more experienced climbers seeking a challenge. Most guide operators recommend avoiding it after a rockfall killed 3 climber in 2006, but still list it as an option for those wanting to access the Western Breach, a dangerous approach requiring scrambling and a great deal of exposure.

Pros

  • Spectacular views
  • Far fewer climbers

Cons

  • Very physically demanding
  • Poor Acclimatisation (takes 2 days to get to the same point as day 3 on Machame)

 

Choosing a Guide

International or local?

Out of any of the 7 Summits, Kilimanjaro has by far the most options for choosing a guide. There are a truly incredible array of services to choose from, both locally operated and large international companies. Whichever you choose is a personal decision and dependent on the level of comfort you want on your trip. Generally, the foreign-run guide services provide extra comfort and a few additional perks to the local guides, such as a portable chemical toilet, newer equipment etc..

These of course, come with a price and international services tend to charge a lot more, sometimes double the amount of those operating at the base of the mountain. If you are looking for a comfortable but basic service that provides everything you need to get you to the top at a reasonable price, you will do fine going with a local service such as one of the ones listed below.

* The Kilimanjaro Porter Assitance Project (KPAP) is a good feature to look out for, indicating that the guide takes good care of there porters and provides adequate pay and conditions. They are after all, going to be looking after you so it is nice to know they aren’t being taken advantage of.

Standard Inclusions for guided services (any additional services, or standard services which are not included, will get a mention in the guide reviews below.)

  • Park Fees
  • Transfer to & from hotel from Kilimanjaro airport
  • Hotel accommodation 1 night before and 1 night after climb
  • Transport to and from trailhead
  • All support staff on route (guides, porters & cooks)
  • All food and water on the mountain.
  • Tents
  • Emergency oxygen supply

Out of the hundreds of expeditions operating on Mt Kilimanjaro, it can be a royal pain the ass narrowing it down to the 1 which best suits your needs. I’ve listed several guide services below, from all different price ranges and included a little info about what they offer and what sets them apart. These services have consistently received high reviews and ratings on various sites on the web. I’ve linked to their own websites so you can do a little more research and choose one which best suits your needs.

 

International Guide Services

  • Price est: $2375 for 6 day Rongai, $3,025 for 8 day Lemosho
  • Member of Kilimanjaro’s Porter Assistance Project (KPAP)
  • Includes portable toilet tent

 

  • Prices est: $2,316 for 6 day Rongai, $2,952 for 8 day Lemosho
  • Offer ‘lite’ options for climbers who want to be more self-sufficient (at a reduced cost)
  • 707 mountain staff, offers a huge range of options and flexibility

 

  • Cost est: $2,230 for 7 day Machame, $2,490 for 8 day Lemosho
  • Welcome package w/journal, tips etc.. (nice perk)
  • Portable chemical toilets

 

Local Guide Services

  • Price est:$1,778 for Rongai 6 day, $2,468 for Lemosho 8 day (8 person group)
  • Doesn’t include accommodation before & after climb

 

  • Price est: $1575 for 6 day Rongai, $1,999 for 8 day Lemosho
  • Provide Sleeping bag, trekking poles & other necessary gear such as down jacket, water bottles etc.. at no extra cost
  • Twice a day health check up (pulse & oxygen monitoring)

 

  • Price est: To be determined..

 

*If you’re willing to take a bit of a risk and save yourself a few dollars, you can always book in the town of Moshi itself. Not only is this a far cheaper option, you can meet and talk to the crew before you climb with them, always an advantage. There is always the risk of not finding someone suitable when you intend to go, but most are fairly flexible.

Mt_kilimanjaro_crash

 

Training & Preparation

Physical Training

The object of this training program is to ensure you can handle trekking for multiple hours a day for several days in a row over relatively steep terrain.

Training Routine

*Note- This routine below assumes you have a decent base level of fitness, as it starts 4 months out from the expedition. You should have been doing some moderate physical activity at least 3-4x per week prior to commencing this. If not, spend 2 months prior building up to training 4 days a week and get comfortable with that proposition.

#Climbing/hiking at altitude will be the best possible type of training. The below program assumes you live at sea level and don’t have access to any significant elevation gain.

Example Training Schedule
4 MONTHS OUT 3 MONTHS OUT 2 MONTHS OUT 1 MONTH OUT
MON STRENGTH STRENGTH STRENGTH STRENGTH
TUE CARDIO: 40m CARDIO: 50m CARDIO: 1 hour CARDIO: 1:15
WED OFF OFF OFF OFF
THUR STRENGTH STRENGTH STRENGTH END STRENGTH END
FRI CARDIO: 40m CARDIO: 50m CARDIO: 1 hour OFF
SAT OFF HIKING: 3 hours HIKING: 4 hours HIKING: 5 hours
SUN OFF OFF OFF HIKING: 5 hours

Strength– Weight training focused around the key muscles used in a Kilimanjaro climb. The primary areas are quads, calves, back and core. You won’t be carrying a lot of weight in your pack but back and core strength will help with balance and improve power generated through the hips and legs. Look to add reps or weight to each exercise every time you’re in the gym. Keep workouts to an hour or less.

Sample Strength Workout

  • Squats- 3 x 12-15
  • Step Ups- 3 x 12-15
  • Pullups- 2 sets max reps
  • S/S
  • Dips- 2 sets max reps
  • Rows- 2 x 10-12
  • S/S
  • DB Press- 2 x 10-12
  • Ab Circuit- 3 sets
  • Fitball Planks- 1:00
  • Fitball Bridges- 1:00
  • Med Ball Double Crunch- 20
  • Russian Twists- 50

Cardio– Cardio is your aerobic fitness, your bodies ability to effectively utilise oxygen taken in. At altitude, the oxygen levels available for the body to absorb are a great deal less than at sea level. As such, it is necessary to get your heart and lungs in adequate condition to handle the rigours of altitude upto 5,895m and trekking uphill for 6-7 consecutive days.

The best form of cardio you can do (besides hiking up mountains) is on stairs or a stairmaster at the gym. Alternate between running up and down and using a 10kg pack.

For variety, incorporate running and swimming to keep it enjoyable and prevent boredom.

Hiking– Aimed at getting you accustomed to trekking for multiple hours a day over varying terrain. Ideally this will be amongst mountainous terrain at altitude, however not everyone lives in close proximity to such landscape in which case a hilly path will do. If even that is hard to find, try a beach (walk up and down sand dunes along the way).

Mt_Climbing_kilimanjaro_sunrise

One of the spectacular sunrises Mt Kilimanjaro can offer.

 

Kili Fact: The oldest person ever to summit Mt Kilimanjaro was 87-year-old Frenchman Valtee Daniel. There goes your excuse..

The Climb

Itinerary

Below are sample but fairly standard itineraries most trekking guides will use. Some may differ slightly and longer/shorter duration climbs will likely alter where you will stay and how far you ascend/descend.

Sample Itinerary

Day Marangu 6-Day Machame 7-day Rongai Lemosho
1 Arrive in Moshi Arrive in Moshi Arrive in Moshi Arrive in Moshi
2 Start: Moshi->Moshi Gate->MandaraElevation: 1,400m->2,699mDistance:10km (6 miles) Start: Moshi->Machame Gate->Machame CampElevation: 1,400m->2,979mDistance:13km (6 miles) Start: Moshi->Rongai Gate->Simba CampElevation: 1,400m->2,750mDistance: 9km ( Start: Moshi->Londorossi Gate->Mti MkwubaElevation: 1,400m->2,895mDistance: 6km (4 miles)
3 Start: Mandara->HoromboElevation: 2,699m->3,699mDistance: 13km (8 miles) Start:Machame Camp->Shira PlateauElevation: 2,979m->3,787mDistance:8km (5 miles) Start:Simba Camp->Kikelewa campElevation: 2,750m->3,600mDistance: 17km ( Start:Mt Mkwuba->Shira Camp 1Elevation: 2,895m->3,505mDistance: 8km (
4 Rest Day Start:Shira Plateau->Barranco CampElevation: 3,787m->3,856mDistance: 11km (7 miles) Start:Kikelewa Camp->Mawenzi CampElevation: 3,600m->4,330mDistance: 7km Start:Shira Camp 1-Moir HutElevation: 3,505m->4,200mDistance: 11km (7 miles)
5 Start:Horombo->Kibo HutElevation: 3,699m->4,699mDistance: 13km (8 miles) Start:Barranco Camp-> Karanga CampElevation: 3,856m->3,978mDistance: 5km (3 miles) Start:Mawenzi Camp->Kibo HutElevation: 4,330m->4,695mDistance: 8km ( Start:Moir Hut->Lava Tower->Barranco CampElevation: 4,200->4,630m->3,976mDistance: 10km (6 miles)
6 Start:Kibo Hut->Summit-> Horombo HutElevation: 4,699m->5,895m-> 3,699mDistance: 23km (14 miles) Start:Karanga Camp->Barafu CampElevation: 3,978m->4,633mDistance: 5km (3 miles) Start: Kibo Hut->Summit-> Horombo HutElevation: 4,695m->5,895m-> 3,690mDistance: 23km (14 miles) StartBarranco Camp->Karanga CampElevation: 3,976m->3,995mDistance: 5km (3 miles)
7 Start:Horombo Hut->Marangu GateElevation: 3,699m->1,900mDistance: 23km (14 miles) Start:Barafu Camp->Summit-> Horombo HutElevation: 4,699m->5,895m-> 3,699mDistance: 23km (14 miles) StartHorombo Hut->Marangu GateElevation:3,690m->1,400mDistance23km (14 miles) Start: Karanga Camp->Barafu CampElevation: 3,995m->4,673mDistance: 4km (2 miles)
8 Depart Moshi Start:Horombo Hut->Marangu GateElevation: 3,699m->1,900mDistance: 23km (14 miles) Depart Moshi StartBarafu Camp->Summit->Mweka CampElevation: 4,673m->5,895m->3,068mDistance: 19km (10 miles)
9 Depart Moshi Start:Mweka Camp->Mweka GateElevation: 3,o068m->1,640mDistance: 10km (6 miles)
10 Depart Moshi

 

Required Gear List

*Sourced from Ultimate Kilimanjaro

 Clothing

– Waterproof Jacket, breathable with hood
– Insulated Jacket, synthetic or down
– Soft Jacket, fleece or soft-shell
– Long Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
– Short Sleeve Shirt, light-weight, moisture-wicking fabric
– Waterproof Pants, breathable (side-zipper recommended)
– Hiking Pants (convertible to shorts recommended)
– Fleece Pants
– Shorts (optional)
– Long Underwear (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
– Underwear, briefs (moisture-wicking fabric recommended)
– Sport Bra (women)

Headwear
– Brimmed Hat, for sun protection
– Knit Hat, for warmth
– Balaclava, for face coverage (optional)
– Bandana (optional)

Hand Wear
– Gloves, warm (waterproof recommended)
– Glove Liners, thin, synthetic, worn under gloves for added warmth (optional)

Footwear
– Hiking Boots, warm, waterproof, broken-in, with spare laces
– Gym Shoes, to wear at camp (optional)
– Socks, thick, wool or synthetic
– Sock Liners, tight, thin, synthetic, worn under socks to prevent blisters (optional)
– Gaiters, waterproof (optional)

Accessories
– Sunglasses or Goggles
– Backpack Cover, waterproof (optional)
– Poncho, during rainy season (optional)
– Water Bottle (Nalgene, 32 oz.)
– Water Bladder (Camelbak type, 2-3 liters)
– Towel, lightweight, quick-dry (optional)
– Pee Bottle, to avoid leaving tent at night (recommended)
Stuff Sacks or Plastic Bags, various sizes, to keep gear dry and separate

Equipment
– Sleeping Bag, warm, four seasons
– Sleeping Bag Liner, for added warmth (optional)
– Trekking Poles (recommended)
– Head lamp, with extra batteries
– Duffel bag, for porters to carry your equipment
– Daypack, for you to carry your personal gear

Other
-Toiletries
-Prescriptions
-Sunscreen
-Lip Balm
-Insect Repellent, containing DEET
-First Aid Kit
-Hand Sanitizer
-Toilet Paper
-Wet Wipes (recommended)
-Snacks, light-weight, high calorie, high energy (optional)
-Pencil and Notebook, miniature, for trip log (optional)
-Camera, with extra batteries (optional)

Paperwork
-Trip Receipt
-Passport
-Visa (available at JRO)
-Immunization Papers
-Insurance Documents

Mt Elbrus: A Few Facts about Europe’s Highest Peak

Which Continent?

A bit of debate has arisen since the 7 Summits was first ‘popularised’ as to whether Mt Elbrus was technically the highest mountain in Europe, the other opinion being Mt Blanc. It is located in the Caucasus Mountain range which stadlles the border between Europe and Asia, although it has been fairly well confirmed by geographers that it is within the European borders. The Caucasus also divide Russia from the middle East. The border with Georgia lies some 30km south of Mt Elbrus.

Mt Elbrus Mythology

Somehow or another, Mt Elbrus has roots in both Greek and Persian mythology. In Greek legend, Zeus chains Prometheus to the mountain as punishment for stealing fire from the gods and showing it to humans. Zeus then sent a long-winged eagle to consume his liver (the gods were a rather harsh bunch..) before the hero heracles intervened, killing the eagle and freeing Prometheus.

Mt_elbrus_mythology

Don’t Feel Like Walking?

There is a cable car system built prior to 1976, set-up on the south side of the mountain. This takes skiers and climber right up to 3,650m (12,500 feet) where they either continue on up if they’re climbing or turn around and come back down if they happen to be on skis. There is also a large snow plow used quite often on the south route, taking climber from the barrel huts right up to 4,800m.

Mt_eblrus_cable_car

Uhhhhh

 

Sleeping on the Mountain

A unique feature of Mt Elbrus is the barrel huts sitting up at 3,800m. There are 9 in total, accommodating 6 people each. The barrel huts are used as an acclimatisation point, perched only 50m above the ski lifts and summit bids are often made from this spot (A climb of over 1,800 vertical metres). Each hut has an electric heater, electric plugs and lighting, absolute luxury for a high altitude mountain setting.

There was a hut built in 1932, ‘Priut 11,’ a few hundred metres higher up that accommodated an additional 120 people. This was burned down in 1998 when a climber knocked over his gas cooker, causing a little chaos.

Great view above the huts

What’s in a Name..

The name ‘Elbrus’ comes from a mountain in Persian mythology Hara Berezaiti  from which was derived the Alborz (Don’t ask me how..). This then turned into Elbrus. The local people of the Caucasus, the Balkars, called the mountain Mingi-Tau which translates to “resembling a thousand mountains” or “Eternal mountain”. In ancient Greek it was known as Strobilus meaning “pine cone”, based on the shape of the summit.

 

A Little Hostility Never Hurt.. Right?

The region is certainly no stranger to conflict, 6 separate wars have taken place in the area since 1998.

Only 100km away from Mt Elbrus lies Chechnya, a source of much civil unrest over the past couple of decades. There were 2 Chechen wars throughout the 90’s in which the region was placed under direct control of Moscow. Chechen nationalists have been launching guerrilla attacks ever since. While there have been targeted attacks by Chechen militants in the past, the area is heavily patrolled by troops and considered relatively safe.

Russias pleasant relations also extend south to Georgia, another source of ongoing conflict. This is certainly less of a threat to tourists however.

chechnya-war-boston-bombings

Land Rover

In 1997, Russia adventurer/madman Alexander Abramov decided it was a good idea to try and drive a Land Rover to the top of Mt Elbrus. They started off driving up to the barrel huts at just under 4,000m where by the vehicle decided it wasn’t having any part in the shenanigans and started to literally fall apart. Undeterred, Abramov and his 10 man team spent the next 43 days winching and hauling the vehicle up, making multiple trips make down to collect parts. Amazingly, on September 13th, they actually managed to drive the vehicle onto the summit, a new a world record as the ‘highest mountain climbed by a vehicle’. One of the team then decided he’d try and drive it back down, promptly losing control and bailing out. The Land Rover still sits on the mountain today.

Mt_elbrus_landrover

 

Similar to Kilimanjaro..

Like Mt Kilimanjaro, Mt Elbrus is an inactive volcano. There are several lava flows on the mounain which apparently ‘look fresh’ as well as a couple of hundred square metres of volcanic debris. Not to fret though, it last erupted around 50 A.D. Fingers crossed..

 

Mt Kosciuszko: A stroll up Australias Highest Peak

Now, there is a lot of debate amongst certain circles as to what really constitutes the ‘7 Summits’, a label given to climbing the highest peak on each of the 7 continents.

The original 7, first achieved by Dick Bass back in 1985, includes Mt Kosciuszko, on the presumption that Australia 51xX1Gn3T2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_was a continent in its own right. Since I was largely inspired by the book written about Bass and his pursuit of the summits (see right), I opted to go with Kosciuszko as well. Being an Australian probably played a part as well, we like to think of ourselves as a continent (only country/continent around, we’ll take that one).

Having now ‘climbed’ Kosciuszko, I can see why the debate came about. It’s not really in the same league as the other 6 on the list. It’s a bit of a push to even call it a mountain.. Not to bash Kozi too much but its practically one quarter the height of Mt Everest, the highest on the list. That being said, it’s on the list and was still an enjoyable excursion for me. I think it would be a completely different experience (in a good way) in winter when some serious snow can fall.

We flew over to Sydney airport, rented a car and made the 6 hour drive out to Thredbo, a ski town at the base of the snowy mountains and our destination, Mt Kosciuszko. Car hire is really the only option outside of winter months, as the regular bus service is cancelled. The drive from Sydney is long and tedious, I would recommend flying into Canberra if you are inclined to make the journey to Thredbo. I’ve heard it can be absolutely packed during ski season, however we went in March and it was pretty much dead.

We got into town a little late so checked straight into our hostel and made haste to get started. It was a pretty uneventful walk up, a solid hike on a beautiful autumn day. Blue, my mate from Deadat30 fame joined me for this one, as did Patty, future chairman of the Reserve Bank. Blue decided to buy a 6-pack as we were stocking essentials for the trek and that is all he talk with him.. He walked up one of the 7 Summits with a beer in one hand, his other carrying the other 5 (gives you an idea as to the level of exertion required). I’m sure he originally had the intention of sharing around a few once we got the top. By the time we made it, there was 1 left..

When hiking, it's important to bring a friend that can act as a stable surface when you need to put your beer down.  This friend has the perfect head and  zen-like concentration.  No, he's not available for hire.

When hiking, it’s important to bring a friend that can act as a stable surface when you need to put your beer down.This friend has the perfect head and zen-like concentration. No, he’s not available for hire.

We reached the top just before dusk and spent about an hour buggering round, waiting for the sunset. It was well worth the wait, the colours and cloud cover created a pretty spectacular scene.

The mountain god reveals himself..

DSCN0483

We made our way in the dark which was a bit more interesting. Since the mountain god has a sense of direction equivalent to a Malaysian airlines flight, he ended up getting lost on the way down. We considered leaving him there but figured he may summon a storm or avalanche to take us out.

The cloud cover that created such a beautiful sunset meant there was no moonlight to guide us, so it was practically pitch black. Luckily, I had a head torch and a torch app installed on my phone so we managed to find our way. We sprinted the last section back to town, hoping to catch the pub open for a quick parmie and beer. We were in luck.

A few facts about Australia’s Highest Point: Mount Kosciuszko

Thinking of making the journey to climb one of the 7 Summits? Tackle Kilimanjaro with my complete guide for less than $3. Get it on Amazon.

Height

In terms of mountains worldwide, Australia’s largest is in fact, a midget. Standing only 2,228 metres, it’s around a quarter of the size of Mount Everest. As the chart below demonstrates..

7_summits_height(2)

One of the 7 Summits

Although Kosciuszko was included in the original 7 Summits list, first completed by Dick Bass in 1985, there has been a lot of debate since as to whether it should in fact, be included. It all comes down to whether you consider Australia to be a continent in its own right, or whether it is part of the more encompassing ‘Oceania’. If you prefer the latter option then Carstensz Pyramid in Papua New Guinea would be the true member of the 7 Summits. Being a circumstantial patriot, I consider Australia a continent and therefore have elected to climb Mount Kosciuszko. (The fact that it is substantially easier and cheaper had no influence on my decision..)

Naming Rights

Polish explorer Count Pawel Edmund Strzelecki was the first to summit the peak, way back in 1840. Why isn’t it called Mt Strzelecki? Because this selfless fellow decided to name it after Polish hero General Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a prominant figure in the American revolution. The Australian mountain supposedly looks like the sight in which General Kosciuszko was buried.

Flora & Fauna

The mountain has many rare species of alpine plants, animals, and endemic flowers, which are not found anywhere else in the world. The park is also home to 40 percent of the bird species in New South Wales. UNESCO declared the Kosciuszko National Park as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997, due to the various species of flora and fauna found in this region.

 

pygmy Possum Mount Kosciuszko

Rodent Problem?

The only place in the world you’ll find these little furballs. This is a Mountain Pygmy Possum and they are found solely within a 10km radius of the Mount Kosciuszko region.

 

 

The Old Switcharoo

The mountain was originally named Mt Townsend and the first Mount Kosciuszko was located nearby. Throughout the late 1890s and early 1900s a number of measurements showed that Mt Townsend was higher than Mount Kosciuszko. To ensure that Kosciuszko remained the name of the tallest mountain, the New South Wales government exchanged the names of the mountains in 1910. Personally, I think Mr Townsend should feel a little ripped off with that exchange..

 

Don’t Feel Like Walking?

Up until 1974 you could drive your car right up to the summit. The road was closed due to ‘environmental concerns’.