I climbed the Kilimanjaro!

Mon, Sep 23, 2019 3-minute read

Directly after the Helm Summit 2019, I left Amsterdam to go to Tanzania and face another kind of summit - that is, Uhuru Peak, summit of the Kilimanjaro.

When I submitted my talk to the Helm Summit, I already knew that it was scheduled immediately before my hike. I thought my talk wouldn’t be accepted. Well, it was, and I had to figure out how to make the most of both summits, which is a good problem to have.

I had agreed with Workday to go to Amsterdam 2 days early so that I would have a full day before the talk to rehearse it. That was a good idea, as my 10am plane to Amsterdam was delayed a full 10 hours, and then was late some more. I landed in Amsterdam at around 1am (the place was initially scheduled to land at 1pm). I’m glad my talk wasn’t the next day - a day of waiting for a plane in an airport is not an ideal environment to rehearse a talk or relax.

To add to that, since I was going from Amsterdam directly to Tanzania, I was transporting a lot more than just conference materials. It’s weird going for a talk with your full hiking / climbing gear. It’s even weirder when the day of your talk coincides with the start of your antimalarial prescription. The very next day after my talk, I had to start taking altitude sickness medication in order to start aclimitazing for the climb. Least we can say is that it makes for a very unique experience :)

The climb itself went smoothly and I summited the Kilimanjaro at 7:20am on Sunday 22nd of September, after a 8 days hike and an all-nighter spent climbing the last 4.5 km!

The timing here might seem surprising; how can it take an entire night to walk 4.5km? Well, the explanation is rather simple: while there is only 4.5km between the base camp (Barafu Camp) and Uhuru Peak,the base camp is at an altitude of 4,670m and Uhuru Peak is at an altitude of 5,895m. That means you have to climb 1,200m, all while oxygen goes scarcer (70% oxygen at base camp, 50% at Uhuru Peak), and while your legs are already tired of the previous full week of hiking. Between Stella Point and Uhuru Peak, there is only 170m of altitude difference, and the 2 landmarks are only 1.1km afar. Yet, because breathing is so difficult, it takes about 1.5 hours to walk that distance.

Was it worth it? YES, ALL THE YES!


Before departure: weighting & packing everything

Day 1: Londorossi Gate to Mti Mkubwa Camp

Day 2: Mti Mkubwa Camp to Shira Camp

Day 3: Shira Camp to Moir Hut

Day 4: Moir Hut to Barranco Camp via Lava Tower

Day 5: Barranco Camp to Karanga Camp

Day 6: Karanga Camp to Barafu Hut (Kilimanjaro base camp)

Day 7: Barafu Hut to Uhuru Peak to Mweka Camp

Day 8: Mweka Camp to Mweka Park Gate and exit of the Kilimanjaro National Park