A 210-240 degree panorama of Kibo Crater, the top of Kilimanjaro, from Stella Point.

To the Roof of Africa
A Trek to Kilimanjaro's 19,341 foot Summit

Saturday, July 11, 2015 - Monday, July 20, 2015

by Dennis Foster


Part IV - Summit Day!! - 7/18

Our group - Dewey & Tracy, Michelle & Mark, Kristin & Todd, and Dennis (me).

Click on any picture to see a larger image.

Kilimanjaro - Part I: Getting to the Trail
Kilimanjaro - Part II: From Forest to Shira II
Kilimanjaro - Part III: From Shira II to Barafu

Kilimanjaro - Part IV: Summit Day
Kilimanjaro - Part V: Descent & Exit
Kilimanjaro - Part VI: A Tale of Two Stories

Day 7 - Saturday, July 18, Barafu Camp to the summit and back
     I had my first decent night's sleep of the whole trip.  We got up earlier than usual today so that we could be on our way at about 6 a.m.  Since most of us are coming back, the porters kind of have the day off.  Consequently, Penda had our duffel porters come along and carry our day packs, both lessening the burden on us and giving these guys a chance to summit as well (although Penda said that all of them had been to the summit before).  While Todd and Kristin are staying at the crater, their porters must carry their duffels, so Penda had Ahi and Adam carry their day packs to the summit.  So it was "po-le, po-le" up some 4,000 feet.  The day was clear and the weather cold, but fine.  For the first (and only) time we are wearing our shell pants, although I think I could have done without.  It is a rocky and barren track up the mountain.  We didn't see anyone else because the descent is made, more or less, straight down the slope!  We stopped from time to time to catch our breath, drink some water and eat some snacks.
     As we climbed we could see over to Mawenzi and, as usual, out across the clouds.  We started to see patches of snow (or, ice?) off to both our right and left and we could see that we were pretty much climbing up alongside a glacier.  When Hans Meyer climbed to the top in 1889, the entire cap was covered in ice.  Now there is much less and we didn't really get that close to some of these remaining glaciers.  At about 11 a.m. we reached the rim of Kibo Crater at Stella Point.  We are now just a shade under 19,000 feet.  We stopped here and Moses had lunch ready to pass around!!  It was actually terrific, but I had a hard time eating barely half of what he served (corn fritters, sliced sausage, a cookie and a banana).  Since Todd and Kristin are staying in the crater this evening, there are camp porters with us who take the trail from here down towards that locale in order to set up their camp.

We're off at first light - po-le, po-le.

Stella Point (18,900 ft.).

Lunch at Stella Point.

Mawenzi at dawn.

Mawenzi, the eastern-most volcano.

Mawenzi shrouded by clouds.
     We are soon on our way to the summit.  It isn't very far away - maybe a half hour of rather gentle climbing.  We are passing above one of the glaciers which really makes this place feel special and unique.  The summit point is not a very dramatic spot - it's just the highest point along the crater rim.  Indeed, if it was up to me I'd say that the highest point was further along the rim.  But, I'm sure someone figured this out, even though my eye was telling me otherwise.  There are two identical signs here, one overlooking the crater and one overlooking the southwestern flank of the mountain.  The latter was more photogenic and that's where we took our group shots, including one of the porters that had accompanied us to the summit.
     There was a very small group ahead of us and while we were there another very small group came by.  Otherwise it was as Penda said, mostly just for us.  We hung around for less than an hour (in fact it might only have been for about a half hour!) before it was time to go.
     Todd and Kristin reclaimed their day packs and with Penda in the lead they continued on along the rim to a descent trail into the crater.  The rest of us turned around and headed back.  Part way back to Stella a gust of wind blew my hat off and down below the trail about twenty feet.  Girard was a bit ahead of me and nobody was directly behind me and I was still hoarse.  So, I scampered down to grab it myself before another gust might come along and carry it off for good.  Wow did that totally tire me out.  Girard and Ahi saw me scrambling along and hurried over to help me back up onto the trail.  I think I gave them a scare!  By about 2 p.m. we were back at Stella Point, although the five of us were spread out into three distinct groups each traveling at our own speed.

Glaciers still dot the landscape.


Ice on other side of Kibo.

Approaching Uhuru Peak.

There are two signs here.  This one is less photogenic (?) but faces a bit into Kibo Crater.  It looks like the rim continues to slope up, but seemingly that's a false impression.

Facing down the south slope w/hat.
Without hat.

The group shot - front row (left to right): Kristin, Michelle, Tracy; back row:  Dennis (me), Todd, Mark, Dewey.  We couldn't have asked for a better day!

The porters pose for our pictures!

Furtwangler Glacier inside crater.
Hanging around at Uhuru Peak.

Looking inside Kibo Crater.
     The descent was easily twice as fast as the ascent.  The slope is made up of dirt and pebbly lava that is spongy and makes for easy sloshing downhill.  I felt like I was going pretty fast, but Mark and Michelle must have gotten down at least 45 minutes ahead of me, while Tracy and Dewey, even with his sprained ankle and with two porters at his elbows, got down 10-15 minutes before me.  I thought it was quite fun to slog through this stuff.  It was cool to see Barafu Camp along the ridge down below us.  The clouds had risen a bit and were nicely framing our descent. 

Let the descent begin!

Back to camp.

Barafu Camp is perched atop a ridge and the various groups are strewn about in any place where a tent can be pitched.

Ahi descending.
The big picture view of descent.
     Once we returned to camp, I felt ... fabulous.  Hmm....  My appetite was back.  I walked around a bit.  It had been a long day - it was 11 hours and 15 minutes for me from start to finish.  Since Penda stayed at the crater, we had dinner with Adam and Ahi.  It was a good chance to learn a bit more about them.  Tomorrow we only have to go for a few hours to our next camp, because the presumption was that we'd be coming down from the crater.  And a bonus for us - since we have to wait for Todd and Kristin, we get to sleep in a little bit more than usual.

Best of the rest - Other photos from this part of the trip by the other members of the group.
Click on any picture to see a larger image.

From  Mark

Mark & Michelle shout out on summit.



Go on to Kilimanjaro - Part V page
or back to Kilimanjaro - Part III page