Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Start of the Alaska Season: An Annual Van Migration

AAI guide and photographer Alasdair Turner and our Alaska logistics coordinator Mik Metzler completed the long Alaska Highway drive with food and equipment to supply this season's Alaska Range trips.  Although it is a long drive it is an amazingly beautiful one and they both enjoyed it. It was done in four days, and they even had a little time to sightsee on the way.  Below are some photos of the drive.  More of Alasdair 's photos can be found on his website www.alasdairturner.com

An American Bison seen at the side of the road.

It was a cold morning.

The first moose we saw.  It was sleeping I think.

Caribou attempting to end up like the moose above.

One of the many stretches of very pretty road on the drive.

Taking a break.

Another one of the roadside attractions. 

Gas stations are often closed at night, and are spread a long way apart.  Always stop to top up the tank. 

The Toad River Lodge.  Apparently home of the "world famous" hat collection.

The hat collection.  So impressive we spent almost a minute looking at it.  

The Laird Hot Springs.  Don't miss this!  It is amazing.

A cold rainy walk to the the springs, but very worth it. 

It did this a lot the first two days of our drive.  

Im hungry!  Hmmmm, this place looks nice.  

Never drive past a cafe that lets you sign the building.  

Alaska or bust.

British Columbia is a big place.  Finally made it to the Yukon.  

The hat collection was great.  Almost as great as the signpost forrest. 

Crossing the still frozen Yukon River. 

I don't really know where this was, but Mik mistook the frozen surface for a beach.  

Alaska somewhere. 

Finally in Talkeetna and unloading the tents.  Do we have enough?

Time to go flying with our friends at K2.

Denali in the distance. 

The east face of Denali.

Mount Huntington.

We should turn the plane now!

An army chinook at the Talkeetna airport helping the rangers install camp.  

--Alasdair Turner, AAI Instructor and Guide

Monday, May 4, 2015

Rope Length on a Glacier

How much rope should be between people on a glacier?

Twenty feet?  Forty feet?  Sixty feet?  It seems like there should be a clear-cut answer to the question, but unfortunately there's not.

Some years ago a friend of mine was coming down the Coleman-Deming route on Mount Baker late in the season.  He was at the back of the rope team.  The person at the front of the team slowly began to work his way across a snowbridge. Approximately half-way across, the bridge collapsed.

The leader dropped into the crevasse.  The guy in the middle of the rope team did not attempt to arrest the fall at all.  And my friend immediately dropped into a self-arrest position.  Each of the two climbers at the front of the team were essentially lowered to the bottom of the crevasse.  But unfortunately, my friend was dragged in and fell to the bottom.

The Coleman Glacier on Mount Baker
Photo by Jason Martin

As the crevasse wasn't that deep, no one was seriously hurt in the incident.  But it was a very close call.  One could make a very good argument that if there were just a few more feet between these individuals, that then the fall could have been arrested before it became as serious as it became.

There are three things to consider when deciding on rope length:

1) How big are the crevasses?

Obviously, you will need enough rope out to make sure that two members of the team are not on the same crevasse.  If you're in the Alaska Range or the Himalaya, this is significantly more rope than it is if you are in the Cascades, the Canadian Rockies, or the Andes.

2) How many people are on the team and what kind of room will you need to arrest?

The more people on the rope, the more weight there is.  On a team with five people, I've seen a person fall into a crevasse and stop without a single member of the team self-arresting.  While larger teams tend to be slower and more difficult to manage, they are better when it comes to arresting a fall.

It is also important to make sure that there is not only enough room between each member of the team to arrest a fall, but that there is also enough rope out to arrest the fall before getting dragged into the crevasse.  Essentially, this means that there should be more rope out between people when there are smaller teams.  Having lots of rope out between people doesn't matter as much with larger teams.

3) Is there enough rope to perform a rescue?

Why not just put all the rope out?  Won't this ensure that you always have enough room to arrest?

Certainly there are places where having all the rope out is good.  In ranges with giant house-eating crevasses like the Himalaya and the Alaska Range, it's probably best to put all of the rope out.  But this does make crevasse rescue more difficult and it doesn't give you a lot to work with if someone gets hurt in a fall.

One of the things that we teach at AAI is that, if possible, you should have some rescue rope on either end of your team.  This rope should be long enough to reach the next person on your team.  This is so that if there is a major injury in a crevasse fall, that you have enough rope to rappel down and perform first aid before pulling a person out.

If you plan to travel to a range where you will need to have all of your rope out, it is good to practice crevasse rescue without rescue coils.  Unfortunately, it is a slower and more tedious technique.

Rope Measurement for Smaller Ranges

I have a simple system for measuring rope length in the Cascades.  I'm six feet tall and so my wing span is also approximately six feet.  I will generally separate people by measuring the rope with my arms.  Here is a team breakdown:

Two person team - 8 arm lengths - 48 feet between climbers
Three person team - 7 arm lengths - 42 feet between climbers
Four person team - 6 arm lengths - 36 feet between climbers
Five person team - 5 arm lengths - 30 feet between climbers

In a pinch, it's possible to have a larger team, but it is not optimal.  And you should never go below 30 feet between climbers.

When you get to teams with five or six people on them, generally there is not enough rope on either end to perform a rescue.  In such a case, you should have the leader (i.e. the strongest/most experienced person on the team) carry any rescue rope that's available.


Certainly, the amount of rope out between people is a personal and team choice.  Some of you who are reading this are probably shocked at how little rope I suggest between people.  And others are just as shocked about how much I suggest.  Either way, I can say comfortably that I personally feel as safe as is reasonable with these lengths on the glaciers of the Northwest...

--Jason D. Martin

Update --

The guide who fell into a crevasse back in 2000 responded to this post.  Following are his comments on the topic:

Hey Jason, I was checkin out your AAI blog this morning and I saw your post on rope distance on glaciers. Nice article - well written and a great topic. I thought about trying to write about that topic recently but got side-tracked.

Interesting to see an anecdote told about my experience. I learned a few things from that, and as such I might disagree with a couple of your premises - or at least have a few other factors to consider. After my accident, some people told me (Crusty old Tom Bridge being one of them) that I could have benefited from the rope distance being a bit longer. I saw that you put that in your blog as well. Keep in mind however that had there not been a little "floor" in that crevasse, an extra few meters would not have mattered, and we probably all would have gone in anyway - and died. Yeah, more rope distance = more "time to react" but only to a point. The amount of rope out was for me a tiny little variable. The other key thing worth pointing out (and you did anyway) is that it was a small, visible bridge that failed over an open crevasse, rather than the failure of a soft blanket of snow over a hidden crevasse.

 My clients and I were tied the "standard" 35 or so feet apart. In the following season or two, I heeded Tom B. and others' advice that I should go more like 40-45 feet on cascades glaciers. It wasn't until 2005 or 2006 or so when I realized, that all things being equal, I should have gone way closer  than 35 feet. When I started going through the AMGA alpine program, that confirmed it for me. For me rope distance ceased to become a function of anticipated crevasse width. I now go even closer in AK too. I think the most likley consequences of a crevasse fall is usually trauma to the victim - not "the whole rope team getting sucked in". The circumstances of my crevasse fall in 2000 should never be used as an example of how far apart to tie in for glacier travel. We should have been in short rope mode - and thats what I would do if I could go back to that moment on Sept 28th, 2000 (at about 1:45pm in the afternoon to be exact).

At some point that day as we descended, the snow got firmer and the crevasses became more open. It was probably around  8000 feet on the coleman glacier.  S-R mode would have allowed me to route-find better and just end-run the crevasse (which was the most logical and "safe" way of solving that particular guiding problem that day. Long-roping is a great technique for crossing glaciers where hidden crevasses comprise the greatest hazard, but in our case most everything that could open was already open. Short-roping would allow a guide to routefind much better than trying to long-rope with a client 80 feet in front of you leading the way (on that piece of glacier, I thought
about going first but the risk of slips and falls was high - thus another reason to S-R and not L-R.

The other thing to remember about your blog topic is that crevasse falls are not the only big hazard on glaciers. Slips and falls on steep terrain are sometimes more severe, and a rope team moving together while tied in far apart is not well prepared (in my opinion) to deal with those hazards.

So, to make a long story longer, when I am trying to figure out how far apart to tie my rope, I think about a few of the following variables (above and beyond crevasse size, numbers of people, etc...)

- Is long-roping more appropriate or less appropriate than short-roping right now? (L-R when soft snow, bad vis, lots of hidden slots, etc... S-R when late season, Firn, most slots are open, route-finding in complex (but not whiteout) terrain.

- Is the snow firm or soft? I might short rope routes these days in the morning, but then L-R them in the afternoon when they have softened up.

- How fit are the clients and how important is my communication with them and with each other?  - if client safety benefits more from communication, pacing, direction, etc then I might go shorter rather than longer. Its a lot easier to remind your clients to keep the rope tight when they are 25-30 feet away than it is when they are 40. Its also easier to keep the rope tight, as well as direct, warn, caution, etc... I have gotten so sick and tired of tying my clients in 40 feet apart only to see them tripping on my rope with their crampons. They sometimes do such a bad job monitoring rope tension that the additional distance ceases to become a benefit. And you know this is true for recreationalists (comprising much of your blog audience) as well.

- Is adjustability important?  Build a system into the rope team that allows one or more members to drop an intermediate knot - thus extending themselves temporarily - It isn't that hard to teach even the greenest of clients. If we are approaching a monster slot where I am afraid of its strenght and of having 2 or more people on it at once, its easy to go quickly from 25 feet to 40 feet if neccessary - or even switch to a belay-from-anchor.  Furthermore, I think there are hardly any monster slots out there (bigger than 20-25 feet or so) that don't manifest themselves on the surface some how. The biggest slots I have ever seen outside of AK are down in Antarctica, and they always reveal themselves one way or another.

Instead of asking myself "how long should I go with my rope distance" when I rope up with my clients, I now try to ask my self 1): Is a rope even necessary? (because sometimes it isn't of course - or sometimes the presence of a rope makes things more dangerous than less - I asked my clients to unrope on a relatively crevasse-free glacier on Mt Blanc this summer because I felt the risk of rockfall from above far outweighed the likelihood of an unroped crevasse fall. 2): How short can I safely go? I bet there are plenty of days on Baker late in the season where one could short rope the vast majority of the route and argue logically that it exposed the team to less risk than long-roping.

The caveat of all of this, and the reason that it is on my mind so much (besides me being the lucky survivor of the story you told) is because of all the 14 guide fatalities in France last year, many of them were due to crevasse falls. Many euro guides can be seen short roping here and there on heavily crevassed glaciers, and it really makes me wonder sometimes... I find myself long roping lots of terrain that fellow french, italian, or swiss guides might be short roping on. There was an inquiry at ENSA (the french guide school) last year after many of the accidents and the ENSA instructors were asked if they teach new guides to S-R the glaciers. "No" they said. "We teach our candidates to use longer distances of rope when the risk of crevasse falls is high" they said. "We don't know why these guides learn one way with us then do something completely different (and much less safe) when they complete their UIAGM diploma".

That about wraps her up... Sorry this isn't very short but as you might know I have a very personal connection to crevasse falls  and crevasse-related risk management. Plenty of people probably don't agree with me by the way, but I'd happily maintain that there is little or no evidence to support the claim that more rope in the team equates to less crevasse fall risk.

I witnessed two crevasse falls in a 30 minute period while guiding the Dufourspitze in Switzerland last summer. I rescued both victims myself. One team (a czech team) tied in a about 35 feet, and did a poor job of watching their tension. A girl popped through a weak bridge in the dark and yanked the other two guys off their feet. She went deep-until she corked. If she hadn't corked she might have dragged them both in. 15 minutes later an Italian climber passed me as I was probing a suspicions area (he wasn't concerned). He and his (single) partner were tied in 25 feet apart. He fell in - and the tension went immediatey onto his partner - who self arrested (crampons on, toes in the snow! - It works!). Is partner was dragged a little bit but not much, and successfully stopped the fall. We hauled that guy out too. One of your blog points was that smaller teams should tie in further apart than big teams. I disagree (with some exceptions). I think they can go just as close (and use heaps of butterfly knots). I honestly believe the benifits outweigh the disadvantages, and overall - if people are skilled and aware - going a little closer is often safer. 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Weekend Warrior - Videos to get you STOKED!!!

On a recent holiday to Spain, 13 year old climbing phenom Ashima Shiraishi completed "Open Your Mind Direct" after just 4 days of projecting.  The original route was 8c, but this more popular direct line was 9a until just recently when a hold broke off.  Ashima was the first to climb it since the broken hold, and thinks it might be even harder now.  If so, she would be the first female and the youngest person ever to climb the 9a+ (5.15a) grade.  Needless to say, she continued on with her holiday by crushing another 9a, Cuidad de Dios!

This next video is a little different than most of our usual ones.  Sometimes we feature videos that don't just show great climbing, but also a great sense of artistry in the video itself.  This is one of those.  Hit "full-screen" and sit back to watch Stefan Koechel send "The Power of Goodbye," a V13 in the hills near Matatal, Austria.

And finally for this weekend, we have another awesome female climber showing how it's done.  Here's Caroline Ciavaldini making the first female ascent of "Requiem," (E8 6b) which was the first UK route to receive the E8 Adjectival grade back in 1983.  The Adjectival Grade system not only refers to the technical difficulty, but encompasses the danger and aura of the climb.

Have a great weekend! - James

Friday, May 1, 2015

Basic Rock Climbing Technique

The Mountaineers Club has put together a very nice little video that provides some tips and techniques for the beginning level climber. The following video does a pretty good job with its description of:
  • Face Climbing
  • Edging and Smearing
  • Downclimbing
  • Steep Terrain
  • The Mantle Technique
  • The Bear Hug Technique
  • Opposing Forces
  • Stemming
  • The Lieback Technique
  • Use of a Backstep
  • The Undercling Technique
  • The Heelhook
  • Friction Climbing
  • Hand Traverse
In seven and a half minutes, the video quickly demonstrates each of the techniques. And while they don't go into depth on any one technique, the do present a nice overview for those who are just starting out.

--Jason D. Martin

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Climbing and Outdoor News from Here and Abroad - 4/30/15


--Following are some of the best reports from the tragedy in Nepal and on Everest:
--The following video was taken from Basecamp as the earthquake shakes and then the avalanche blasts down the mountain and into camp. It's a terrifying video...

--If you would like to make a donation to help the Nepali people, consider the American Himalayan Foundation or the Alex Lowe Charitable Foundation.

--The north side of Mt. Everest and Tibet are officially closed for the rest of the climbing season. To read more, click here.

--And finally the Washington Post has released an editorial that we totally disagree with. They argue that Mt. Everest should be permanently closed...


--Figuring Mount Baker won’t get a big dump of snow this spring, the state Department of Transportation started plowing the road to Artist Point on Monday, April 20. The popular destination at the end of Mount Baker Highway should be open by early May, DOT officials said. To read more, click here.

--Historically we haven't had to worry about lyme disease in Washington State. But that may be changing.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2015/04/23/4257269/road-to-artist-point-to-open-in.html#storylink=cpy

--One of the superheroes of the Dawn Wall in Yosemite --  Kevin Jorgeson -- has a Duracel Battery TV Commercial.

--A California skier wrote an excellent article entitled, The Winter of His Disbelief, about the Sierra, global warming and this year's lack of snow. To read the story, click here.

Desert Southwest:

--An election in the Navajo Nation may have stopped the tourist development of the upper Grand Canyon. To read about it, click here.

--Visitors can now join Zion National Park rangers in an effort to promote clean air and clear skies by taking the wheel behind an electric vehicle to visit the park. Park officials from Zion and Pipe Spring National Monument joined with local elected leaders Saturday to celebrate the opening of two new level-two electric vehicle charging stations at the entrance to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center, part of a larger project that will eventually include 10 stations located throughout Zion and Pipe Spring. To read more, click here.

--Internationally renowned graffiti artists appear to be tagging the National Parks more and more. To read an article about this phenomenon, click here.


--Despite a 2.8 percent drop in skier visits and a devastating drought in the west, Vail Resorts still reported modest increases in revenue compared to last year. The latest season metrics compared this season to the previous year through April 20, 2014. And while everyone knows that Vail Resorts' is king when it comes to breaking records andmaking money in the ski industry, this spring (especially March) was notoriously bad in many of Vail's nine mountain resorts. To read more, click here.


At 20,320-feet, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America.

--AAI Denali Team 1, lead by Paul Rosser and Quino Gonzalez is prepping to start their Denali climb on Sunday! Follow the action on our dispatches page.

--A wolf killed by a trapper was found inside the boundaries of Denali National Park and Preserve last month, causing renewed interest among wolf advocates in banning trapping outside the park. The wolf was a 1-year-old male, a member of the East Fork Pack, which lives inside the park but spends time outside its boundaries. To read more, click here.

Notes from All Over:

--Outside Online has published an important article on mountain guiding. The piece is entitled, How Much (and why) Should I Tip My Guide.

--Yeah, so...someone stole a whole ski lift.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Route Profile: Dream of Wild Turkeys, 5.10a III

Dream of Wild Turkeys is an exceptional climb located on the Black Velvet Wall very near to the classic long Red Rock climb Epinephrine. I made it to Red Rock a week ago and after a couple days of sport climbing and bouldering I had the chance to get on this route with fellow AAI Guide Britt Ruegger. Britt is preparing for the AMGA Rock Instructor Course and we thought this route with 8 pitches of 5.9 or harder would be a good training ground for the course.

The beauty of this route is the sustained nature of the climbing combined with a comfortable amount of protection. Where the climbing follows cracks traditional protection is easily attainable, and when the cracks peter out bolts pop up to protect the face climbing. This casual mixed protection makes me feel warm and fuzzy and is a credit to the first ascentionists George and Joanne Urioste's dedication to putting up routes you want to repeat!

AAI Guide Britt Ruegger pulling past the first 5.10a crux on Pitch 3. 
The highlights of the route include pitch 2, a long right angling crack that eats up gear and is sustained at the 5.9 grade. Pitch 3 brings the crux and you go straight up a thin crack with small crimps on the face at 5.10a until you reach a bolted traverse to the right. This sets you up for the long fist to hand crack of pitch 4 that ends with a few tricky 5.10a bolt protected face moves to the anchors.

Britt demonstrating the delicate footwork necessary on this technical face climb.

The rest of the route continues on with endless face climbing mainly at the 5.9 grade. Ten pitches of fun sustained climbing make this a must do route!

The leader of another party climbs pitch 7.
Every belay is also a bolted rappel station, so you can go down at any point. This makes the route a great objective for folks just starting to climb longer routes that are not confident in their speed and efficiency.

Things to take into account on this route:

-Two ropes are required to rappel this route. We climbed with twin ropes but a single rope and tag line would work just fine as well. You end up going straight down with the rappels and utilize a couple anchors that are on variations to this route.

-This is a very popular route and you should get an early start if you want to be first! However, there are many great back-up routes close by if the route is taken.

-The road into the Black Velvet Canyon parking area is rough dirt and rock and requires a vehicle with a reasonable amount of clearance. Not impossible in a passenger car, just much quicker and enjoyable with a truck.

-There are many hanging belays on this route which leads some folks to nickname the route Dream of Belay Ledges! Its not that bad but worth noting in comparison to the more common comfortable Red Rock belays.

The Red Rock season is in full swing here in Vegas and I'm excited to be working with some folks next week on a Learn To Lead Course. If you're after some great desert sandstone climbing or want to improve your skills in traditional and multi-pitch terrain come visit us in Red Rock!

--Jeremy Devine, AAI Instructor and Guide

Monday, April 27, 2015

Route Profile: Kilimanjaro - Machame Route

Kilimanjaro - 19,341 ft (5895 m)

Route: Machame

Kilimanjaro from the plains of Africa. AAI Collection

The picturesque Machame Route is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful routes on the Kilimanjaro. Most of the climb is actually trekking on well-formed trails, but there are a few sections of steeper, non-technical terrain. Our camps are at sites established by the Tanzanian National Park Service, and each camp provides outhouses and is staffed by a rescue team in case emergency evacuations are necessary.

Climbing above tree line and in the
clouds on Kilimanjaro.
Shawn Olson.
Five camps are used as we gradually move up the mountain, and their altitude (ranging from 9,843 to 15,100 feet) will help us acclimatize gradually before making our summit bid. A typical day includes three to six hours of climbing. Summit day is typically between five and eight hours, and begins just after midnight with a plan to enjoy the magnificent colors of sunrise near the summit.

Besides its beauty, a benefit of the Machame Route is that it includes two days of "hiking high and sleeping low," a strategy proven to help with successful acclimatization.

Day 1: Arrival/Mbahe Farm House

Your trip leader will pick you up upon your arrival at the Kilimanjaro International Airport. A private car will take you to Mbahe Village, located in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro, approximately 2 hours from the airport. Accommodations are in cottages at the beautiful Mbahe Farm House.

Day 2: Mbahe Farm House (6,000’)

You have the morning to rest and relax. You can enjoy delicious “homebrew” coffee, grown and roasted on the farm, and meals made with fruits and vegetables from the garden. Your trip leader will provide an orientation on the climb and do an equipment check. This is also a day to take a guided tour around Mbahe Village, the Mtuy family farm, and to swim in the waterfall on farm’s land. We will all gather together for dinner.

Day 3: Machame Gate (6,000’) to Machame Camp (9,950’)

Entering the national park. Shawn Olson.
After breakfast we will drive to the Machame Gate, where you will meet your other guides and mountain crew and enter the Kilimanjaro National Park. We begin our climb at 6,000 feet, walking for a few hours through thick and undisturbed tropical forest. With luck, we may see the colobus monkeys that live in the forest. Quick Stats: 6.6 miles, 3950’ of elevation gain.

Day 4: Machame Camp (9,950’) to Shira Camp (12,620’)

Today is an easy paced acclimatization day. We will hike over streams, a river gorge, and moorlands. Camp is located on the Shira Plateau, providing expansive views of Kilimanjaro. We will do a conditioning hike in the afternoon on which you can enjoy clusters of giant lobelia and senecios that grow at this elevation. Quick Stats: 3.5 miles, 2670’ of elevation gain.

Day 5: Shira Camp (12,620’) to Lava Tower Camp (15,230’)

Today is another acclimatization day as we have a mostly uphill climb of 5 hours to an elevation over 15,000 feet. We will pass through the alpine moorland zone where plants are extremely hardy and consist of lichens, grasses, and heather, to reach Kilimanjaro’s alpine desert zone. You will have a spectacular view of the steep Western Breach. After an early afternoon rest we will take a two-hour round-trip adventure climb up the Lava Tower. This scramble is fun and will help prepare you for the climb tomorrow. Quick Stats: 4.4 miles, 2690’ of elevation gain.

The upper slopes of Kilimanjaro still have
some receding glaciers. Shawn Olson.

Day 6: Lava Tower Camp (15,230’) to Karanga Valley Camp (13,250’)

Today we will climb the Great Barranco rock wall - not too steep but challenging for some – which our guides make comfortable and accessible for everyone. We will go pole pole (meaning “slowly” in Kiswahili). You will be able to see the breathtaking Heim Glacier. We descend into the Karanga Valley and then to our camp on a ridge above the valley, where you will be able to enjoy a rest and have refreshing a sponge bath with warm water. Quick Stats: 5.9 miles, 1980’ of elevation loss.

The upper mountain provides an incredible
backdrop for our camps. Shawn Olson.

Day 7: Karanga Valley Camp (13,250’) to Barafu Camp (15,360’)

As we begin trekking today the trail turns steadily uphill. The temperature will grow colder and the landscape more sparse as we work our way to Barafu Camp. Barafu means “ice” in Kiswahili. Hiking time is 4 to 5 hours. The Camp is set on an exposed ridge and is the staging point for our push to the summit. After an early dinner we will go to bed for some sleep. At midnight, hopefully under the stars, we will begin the final ascent. We are going to go pole pole and drink plenty of water and tea along the way, refueling with small snacks regularly to keep our energy high and to help us enjoy this final climb to the summit. Quick Stats: 2.4 miles, 2110’ of elevation gain.

Day 8: Barafu Camp (15,360’) to Uhuru Peak (19,340’) to Millennium Camp (12,530’)

The roof of Africa. AAI Collection.
We will reach Uhuru Peak, the summit of Kilimanjaro at 19,340 feet, around 8am At this early hour, before any possible clouds close in, you will have spectacular views of Africa in all directions. The hiking time is 7 to 8 hours. Tea and snacks will be served on the top. After a stay of about 30 minutes and photos all around, we will descend 2 to 3 hours to our Barafu Camp for lunch, rest, and to pack up belongings. Then we continue downhill 3 to 4 hours to the edge of the Mweka Forest. Tonight’s camp is 7,000 feet below the summit! It is a long descent and trekking poles are recommended. Eat, share your experiences of the climb, and sleep soundly! Congratulations, you made it to the Roof of Africa! Quick Stats: 8.3 miles, 3980’ of elevation gain and 6810’ of elevation

Day 9: Millennium Camp (12,530’) to Mweka Gate (5,380’); Mbahe Farm House

Our last day is another descent of 7,000 feet with 4 to 5 hours of hiking to the trailhead at Mweka Gate. The trail is steep in places and may be slippery if wet; again we recommend that you use trekking poles. At the gate we will temporarily say goodbye to our mountain crew and enjoy a picnic lunch. The trip leaders will take you back to Arusha for a hot shower and a celebration dinner with the whole team. Depart Tanzania after dinner or remain for rest day or remain for safari. Quick Stats: 8.5 miles, 7150’ of elevation loss.

Descending after a successful summit bid.
Shawn Olson.

Day 10: Mbahe Farm House/Departure

Today is a rest and relaxation day at the farmhouse. Optional activities include light hiking, swimming, exploring the village and local school, visiting with the neighbors, drumming, tasting homemade banana beer, and shopping in Moshi Town. For those returning home, you will be transferred to the Kilimanjaro International Airport to catch your flight (most people fly out in the evening on KLM to Amsterdam). Those continuing on safari will pack lightly for the continuation of your African adventure tomorrow. If you are continuing on safari, you will depart in the morning for your first day of safari.

Kilimanjaro is a great way to enter into the world of high altitude trekking and climbing. It also serves as the first mountain for many climbers interested in pursuing the Seven Summits. Combine Kilimanjaro with a climb on Elbrus or Aconcagua in the same year and you'll receive a discount! For the upcoming climbing season in Africa, you can join trips departing every month from June to October.

Climbing the upper slopes of Mount Elbrus, Russia.
AAI Collection.
Morning sunlight on Aconcagua, Argentina.
AAI Collection.

See you in the mountains soon!

Wyatt Evenson
Alaska Programs and 7 Summits Coordinator
AAI Guide