The walk to Arrow Glacier Camp starts at Machame gate at the Kilimanjaro national park. For the first days you walk along the Machame route. The first day you walk through the muddy rain forrest to Machame Camp (3100m). The camp lies just at the end of the forrest. If you are lucky the sky is clear in the evening and you can see Uhuru Peak. The second day the walk goes to Shira camp (3850m). This camp is at the huge Shira Plateau, which is situated west from the Kibo crater. From here it is still a long distance to the point where the crater begins to rise (more than 10 kilometres). The next day you can choose either to rest a day at the Shira Camp for acclimatization or to go directly to Lava Tower Camp (4600m). If you have an acclimatization day in your schedule you should take it at Shira Plateau. It's importnant to acclimatize as high as poosible, but not higher than 4000 metres. At Lava Tower Camp you might really feel the altitude. Here you are much closer to the crater and really close to Arrow Glacier Camp (4900m). You can walk to here the next day. From the Lave Tower Camp the Laver Tower rises 50 metres into the atmosphere. Nice to climb if you have some energy left in the afternoon. The next day when you've arrived at Arrow Glacier camp you are at the base of the final climb which starts next night.
To Arrow Glacier Camp you only had to walk and the terrain was not very difficult. From here you start climbing probably around midnight. First the steepness is around 25 degrees, which goes well. You walk at ice, good rock, some loose rock and scramble. After a few houres the route gets steeper up to around 45 degrees. At this steepness it takes much concentration to keep your balance at some points, espacially at the parts that contains steep, loose rock. At this route you're going to the east now, straight up to the crater rim. When you are at the rim (5650m) the route is far more flat. You have to bear to the south now. There is a path that is good remarkable. If you walk to it at the path that you took at the crater rim, Uhuru peak is situated at the right side of the path. It's, of course, the highest rock that rises from the crater and is covered with snow at your side. The path is easy to follow at this final climb up the rock. Soon you will be at Uhuru Peak, highest point of the Kilimanjaro, roof of Affrica.
I did this route with a friend of mine and two Tanzanian 'guides'. We had no crampons and only one guide had an ice axe for making steps for our feet. Looking back at this, I think it was a very bad idea to do not bring crampons with us. The glacier was rather slippery and I did not feel really safe at the time.
So, when the glacier didn't melt away already, bring your crampons and ice axe with you!
The list of essential gear becomes:
-wind and waterproof jacket with hood
-one thin fleece layer
-one thick fleece layer
-one very thin thermo layer
-one ordinary walking pants
-one long fleece pants for under the walking pants
-gloves for -15 celcius
-two pairs thick wool socks, for the thirst day in the forest you might want to use thinner ones.
-sleeping bag for -15 celcius
-high isolation sleeping pad
-one 1,5 liter thermo bottle (Shira recommended), don't bring Sigg bottles (it might be too cold for that)!
-boots stiff enough for crampons
-petzl or other light on your head
- EHBO stuff
- walking poles (don't use them on the steep parts on the summit day)
-sunglasses, sunburn lotion, sunburn lipstick
-something on your head against the sun
-stormproof expedition tent
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