Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro
Dennis Ray, a fellow Probus St. Catharines club member, delivered a presentation about his climb up to the peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro with his son John in 2008.
Mt. Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, is Africa’s highest peak at 5,895 metres or 19,340 feet and although the altitude makes it a challenge, more than 50,000 people take on that challenge every year with an 85-year-old man the oldest to successfully reach the summit.
Dennis said that his group flew to Africa and journeyed to the town of Moshi where they met up with their guides at the hotel. He said that the guides thoroughly checked everyone’s packs to make sure they all had everything that they would need. There were three guides and 40 porters for their group.
The porters carried all the packs as well as tents for sleeping, eating and even toilets as well as food for the nine day journey. They took seven days to reach the summit and then two days to re-turn to the base.
Dennis said that the guides did health checks twice a day to make sure everyone was coping with the changing altitude.
The hikers went through fairly dense rain forest on the first day but, Dennis pointed out, that by the end of the third day their camp was at 4,140 metres which is higher than Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies.
By the end of day six, the climbers reached Camp Barafu with an elevation of 4,556 metres and prepared for the final push the next day to Uhura Summit at 5,895 metres. Dennis said that at this altitude it was extremely tiring to walk and climbers could do little more than shuffle along. He said that it took five minutes to walk a short distance be-tween tents.
Dennis had high praise for both the guides and porters who looked after every need of the climbers. At the end of each day, the porters would have camp fully set up. Meals were prepared and served in a special tent where the group ate together.
Although the climb is totally walking, Dennis said that altitude sickness does take its toll and about one-quarter of the people who attempt it are unable to reach the summit and about 10 die each year.