We had rain all the way to the last camp, which turned to snow. WE started in snow, but it cleared and the summmit was very nice, and strangely anough - no wind at all.
Great route - very quiet. Weather excellent until summit day when there was a snow blizzard. Awesome experience nonetheless.
My 16 year old daughter and I did the Machame Route 28 Dec 2005 - 3 Jan 2006. I have a few comments about the climb that I'd like to share.
To start with, I'd like to establish my bone fides. I've done a fair amount of climbing in CA to include Whitney(mountaineers route) and Shasta. I also do a bit of trad climbing. I have many triathlons including 2 half-ironmans and a marathon under my belt. I'm a 22 year career Army officer to include 4 yrs in special operations units...hardship is not unknown to me.
I must say that the climb was one of the toughest physical challenges I have undertaken. To me, it was the steady, slow, one foot plopped down in front of the other 7 day slog that required significant mental as well as physical stamina.
I mention the above with the idea of disabusing anyone reading this web-site of the notion that this is just an easy hike. There are a few postings that leave the reader with the mistaken impression that this climb is no big deal. Anyone who is considering the climb and getting ready to plop down $5k+ needs to keep this in mind.
The trail conditions were excellent. It is very well maintained and does not have the rutting that folks had previously complained about. The trail, however, was extremely crowded. For 2 1/2 days, it was one long conga line going up the trail. All the groups seemed to break camp at the same time. If you want to avoid this, leave really early or hang back a bit and let the craziness get out in front of you. We chose the hang back approach which seemed to work for us.
Weather. The tempratures ranged from 80 degrees on the first day to maybe the low 20s on the the summit. I would say the average temp after the machame huts was around 45 degrees. The first day started out sunny but in mid-afternoon, it started to rain and cooled off to the low 70s. Temp at the m-huts dropped quickly when the sun started to set. For the remainder of the climb, the weather pattern seemed to be a nice sunny start(felt really nice) but at around 1030 a chilling mist would develop significantly dropping the temp. At Barafu huts, it felt pretty cold maybe low-40s, upper 30s exacerbated by extremely high winds. Everyone at the camp hunkered down trying to stay warm. Summit day (started at midnight) was not too bad at the beginning. It was a crisp, clear cold evening/early morning low 30s - upper 20s. Around maybe 5am, an icy mist developed with the temp around the low-20s with wind. On the rim, everything was iced over and the mist was very thick. Didn't get to see the glorious sun-rise you are supposed to see due to the mist.
Equipment. We brought all our gear with us. For a backpack I used the Osprey Ceres 70. It might seem like overkill, but I carried a little more in it to lessen the burden on my daughter. I used a MH phantom 15 down sleeping bag. I ended up sweating most of the nights. Was concerned about it being down and there being the threat of rain on a few days but was not a factor. My sleeping pad was a thermarest guidelight 3/4. In retrospect, I would have arranged with the guide service to rent/buy a cheapie full length closed cell pad in addition to the pad we brought. You have the luxury of porters carrying your gear so why not the extra luxury. We did bring sit pads I had cut out from a larger ridge rest pad. This was handy when we made rest/lunch stops along the way. It also extended our 3/4 pads to full length at night. I highly recommend this.
As far as clothing goes, I'll describe what I had and in the end what might have worked best. I mostly wore nylon pants (TNF) with patagonia silk weight long underwear underneath. On summit day I added another mid weight underwear layer and MH windstopper pants. This worked very well. For a top I wore a TNF El Cap long sleeve zip top shirt for the first half of the climb and a Patagonia R.5 shirt for the second half. This also worked well. Now, for jackets, I think I am guilty of overkill. I brought a TNF windshirt, a TNF softshell, a Patagonia stretch element shell, and a MH sub-zero SL down hooded parka. What I really ended up using was the stretch element jacket(very nice, lots of venting options) over my long underwear shirt when I started the day (okay I was a little chilled, but I warmed up quickly); added the windshirt for extra insulation when stopped for breaks; and upon arriving to camp, donned the parka. I word about my parka. It was probably the best clothing decision. A lot of folks say all you need are a couple of fleeces and a shell. Okay, you can do this but, again, given that porters are shouldering most of your burden, why not bring a little extra 2lbs 4 oz of luxury. I witnessed a lot of suffering from people who used the couple of fleece with shell philosophy. Even people who had down jackets were somewhat uncomfortable. You do spend a fair amount of time chillin' (pun intended?) at the camps so when you arrive, why not just don a sleeping bag of a parka and be comfortable. On summit day I wore the r.5 shirt, windshirt, and parka. This worked well, as I just kept the parka unzipped for venting. I was comfortable the whole way(especially when you get out of your tent at midnight to celebrate new years with all the singing guides). My daughter used a go-lite six months night parka which worked well for her. Turned out I didn't really use/need my TNF softshell at all.
For gaiters, we used OR expedition crocs. Probably could have gotten away with wearing something like OR's stretchy low-cut gaiters, it would have kept the scree out and the mud was manageable on the trail. Most of the time I wore REI One gloves - nice; and for the summit wore OR mittens. For a hat I had a light weight OR balaclava topped with a TNF logo beanie. For boots I wore, don't laugh, LL Bean's mountain tread mid-cuts. These are very comfortable boots and ended up working well for the climb. I will say that the tread pattern on them are kind of strange. The tread pattern appears to try to mimic some type of animal paw and is not exactly the grippiest of patterns. My daughter wore a pair of Raichle trekking boots.
Physical health. We both used dox and did not suffer too much from the altitude. Most of the effects of altitude we experienced were gastro-intestinal, nausea and the occaisional headache.
Food. I suppose this is dependent on the guide service. By and large the food we had was pretty good. By the end of the climb meat was definitely lacking and the food wasn't very fresh (you only eat what the porters are able to carry and by the 5th day pickens tend to be slim). We brought with us gel, snickers and packets of gookinaid. We also brought a water purifier and tablets but did not use either for the water. The boiling of the water seemed to do the trick. On summit day we were just given tea and biscuits at midnight and our service did not plan for another meal until arrival at Mweka late in the afternoon. I would recommend bringing/having the guides make peanut butter sandwich to eat when you return from the summit to Barafu and before you descend to Mweka.
Well, I hope this posting helps anyone considering this climb. It is an amazing experience especially if you are sharing this with someone close and special to you. Getting to the summit with my 16 year old daughter was a surprisingly emotional experience and one of the proudest moments in my life.
Climbed with Tusker Trail and a group who was climbing for the Make-A-Wish foundation. Perfect weather, fun trek.
Did the quite busy Marangu Route (with an extra day for acclimatization). Pretty easy, but fun!
Up on Machame Route through Western Breach, down Mweka. Made it to the summit in time for sunrise. Great view, fantastic glaciers.
Although we had 6 inches of snow waking us and howling winds - my guide Tobias and I summitted at 8 AM on Thursday the 12th (better than the originally scheduled Friday the 13th.)
We did so in memory of the three trekkers killed on the Western Breach as I set out on the 5th. Headache, high pulse, low oxygen - and the magic of DEX and a hit of oxygen got me up to the top (I was fine until 18000 feet).
A "once in a lifetime experience" as only a fool would do this twice. Great views, deeply spirtual, physically very hard, emotionally much harder.
Do it - if you are prepared - attitudinally.
I was originally going on the Western Breach route, but because of the unfortunate rock slide at Arrow Glacier Camp we had to change routes and use Machame. The Western Breach is currently closed. I will never forget the winds and cold during the midnight hike. Luckily, I had packed a headlamp for camp usage as I was supposed to make the summit in daylight. This was my second attempt and first success. I will never do this again. Too exhausting! But it was a great experience and one I will never forget.
All seven of us from New Mexico, USA, reached the summit on Sept. 11, 2004 in time to watch the sunrise--it was fantastic! Three of us had the opportunity to explore the summit crater and ash pit as well. The only snow we encountered on the whole 6 day climb was in the summit crater!
Made it to the top on the last day of 2005. It was absolutely fantastic. The glaciers, the crater and the ash pit totally blew me away.
Like Dirk said, an extremely demanding trip, especially because sickness, poor weather, and short time-frame come together. The western breach route should be a lot of fun if we had good weather conditions and better acclimatization. Too bad we couldn't see anything from the summit, and had to get down quickly. The hiking was very steep each day but the real kicker was altitude. On the summit day I made it to the top with frequent hollers from our guide and after being relieved of my day pack half way up the Breach.
After hearing about the rock fall accident on the Western Breach route that killed three American climbers and injured 5 others a few days after we had been there, I feel very lucky to have made it to the top safely.
Completed with G-mack despite many trials and tribulations...
After G contracted illness night before proposed departure date, we spoke w/ Joel (our guide) the next morning, who said he didn't mind if we started a day late & just shortened the overall trip length to just 5 days (something I would NOT recommend to anyone- give yourself at least 6 days!! Kili's a BIG mountain, & if you're coming from the US, at least, you'll have jet lag, way different weather, & food to adjust to as well!!), we started the next day. Of course, I got the bug that Gordon had 2 days up the mountain! Fever, chills, congestion, coughing & sneezing @ 2,900 m (w/ 2 successive days afterwards of 1,000m gains- ouch!!)
Anyway, 1st camp at cave. Second camp @ Barranco Hut, 3rd @ Arrow Glacier Hut. Started @ 5.32 for summit. Fresh snow on Western Breach. Would have been an enjoyable route, but as I felt like utter dog shit the whole while, I could not enjoy it... Summited @ 11.20 (after it had started snowing (it either rained or snowed each day of our trip except for our final descent day)), left summit @ 11.35. Descended to Millennium Camp that day.
Millenium Camp to base next day. Great adventure!
So far one of the best experiences in my life. I started from the Machame gate and went up to the summit via Machame, Shira and Arrow Glacier Camps in 5 days. Just to test myself I carried my own gear (13kg) all the way to Arrow Glacier Camp and with the minimum acclimatization it was pretty exhausting.
I reached the summit just after sunrise with only a couple of people there at the time and the views are absolutely spectacular. I truly recommend the Machame route (instead of Marangu) as you can see the Shira plateau, Lava Tower and Arrow Glacier from Western Breach which are the highlights of the ascent.
Yes! I made it to the top. The whole team has written up their stories on our website.
Enjoy! Hope it helps those of you who come after!
Great Climb, mostly a long hike up and down
Three days up and two down. Awsome climb and experience. One down and 6 to go!!!
Went with Duma Explorers and highly recommend them - excellent value for the cost. This was the toughest thing I have ever done, mainly because I was sick the entire time (and not altitude sickness). We had cold frosty weather at the top with no view, but I didn't care - I made it to the top of Africa! :-) The descent was actually the toughest part for me - 15,000ft in a day and a half on rock (snow is much easier on the joints).
Sue and I summited just before 6 in the morning and 3 minutes before sunrise.... Very cold but what a beautiful view of the light hitting the Serengeti with Mount Meru keeping watch in the distance... A very rewarding climb!
First big one and a beauty. We spent 7 days on the mountain, had time to acclimatize properly on the Machame route. Climbed the Lava Tower, reach Uhuru Peak and skied down the scree slope, a lot of fun!