2009 Kilimanjaro Climb

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Press Release and Summit Video

Check out the latest press release for Lakpa Rita Sherpa here: http://pitch.pe/4725

Also here's a short clip of video from the summit of Kilimanjaro with Lakpa singing Hakuna Matata.

Here are the stats from the end of the video:

Mt. Everest, Asia, 29,029 ft., 12 ascents since 1990
Denali, North America, 20,320 ft., 2 ascents in 2000
Aconcagua, South America, 22,841 ft., 22 ascents since 2002
Vinson Massif, Antarctica, 16,050 ft., 2 ascents in 2004
Mt. Elbrus, Europe, 18,510 ft., ascent in 2008
Kosciuszko, 7,310, ascent in 2008
Kilimanjaro, 19,310, ascent in 2009

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Climb

Unfortunately we weren't able to blog much while in Africa. Besides the lousy computers, immediately after the climb we went on safari, then went pretty much straight home. Now that we are both back in the U.S., here are a few images from the trip and a brief description of how it went.

We left the town of Arusha in the morning of the 9th and after a two hour drive, arrived at the Machame Gate mid-day. Several other expeditions were leaving at the same time. In the following picture, porters are lined up to have their gear weighed before heading up. The porters are only allowed to carry 20 kg each, which compounds the number of porters needed for each trip, leading to around a 5:1 ratio of porters and guides to clients.

The trail starts in a hot muggy, rain forest on the south side of the mountain at around 1,900 meters. We arrived at our first camp at Machame (3,100 meters) after around 3 hours.

The next day was mostly cloudy, but was nice because it kept the unshaded trail cool. We reached our next camp at Shira (~3,800 meters) in 2 hours flat. Already we were starting to see how funny the Machame Route was. Instead up going straight up the mountain, it traverses all over the place and goes up and down losing and gaining thousands of meters of elevation. However, we left the rain forest this day and the terrain opened up and provided great veiws of the surrounding mountains, and our first good view of Kilimanjaro itself. This night we got some serious rain (and a river under our tent) but fortunately we stayed nice and dry.

Shira Camp with Mt. Meru in the distance:

Day 3 involved gaining nearly 800 meters to Lava Tower (4,600 meters), then descending all the way back down to about 3,900 meters to the Barranco Camp, with a little up and down in between. We made the lava tower high point in under 2 hours and make a quick climb of the cool little tower. Descending to Barranco took about 30 minutes.

Lakpa approaching Lava Tower:

The next day was the clearest and most beautiful yet. The sun stayed out nearly the whole day and the surrounding views were incredible. We left Barranco at around 9 a.m. and shuddered at the fact that there were hundreds of people making their way ahead of us up the steep Barranco wall just out of camp. Luckily it was easier to pass people than we thought and we made quick progress up to the top, only to be greeted with a series of descents and ascents that eventually dropped us all the way back to around 3,900 meters again, before starting back up to make the more gradual ascent to Barafu High Camp at 4,600 meters. Lakpa pulled this day off in 2.5 hours - it took me about 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Waking up at Barranco Camp with the Breach Wall behind:

Lakpa in front of the Breach Wall:

A near full day's rest was welcome at Barafu as we knew we would be getting up early for the summit attempt. We wanted to time it so we would be on the summit right at sunrise - so we left at 2:30 a.m. hoping for a 4 hour summit time. Summit morning was quite windy and colder than expected. We ended up having to hike up in everything we brought. On the way to the summit, we passed over 200 people, and counted another 50 or so ahead of us. With 5:1 porter/guided to cliet ratio, this puts over 1000 people at each camp every night. We were suprised at how many people were on the mountain, but we were both pleased at how clean the camps were under these circumstances.

We summited at 6:10, 3 hours and 40 minutes after leaving and just before sunrise!

Lakpa Rita Sherpa on the summit of Kilimanjaro on February 13, 2009, successfully completing his Seven Summits:

The diminishing ice cap and Mt. Meru in the distance:

Looking toward the crater with what's left of the summit ice cap:

That day we descended the Mweka Route in a couple hours to the Mweka Camp at 3,100 meters, back down in the rain forest. The Mweka Route is a more realistic route - it goes straight down (or up), but it is only allowed to be descended. I can't complain too much about the Machame Route though, it is a very scenic route and one gets to see a lot of the mountain.

On the final day (day 6) we descended the last bit of trail in less than 2 hours to the Mweka Gate (1,700 meters). Here we were greated by the Big Expeditions staff who threw us a great little welcoming party and made Lakpa a cool banner.

We'd both like to kindly thank Big Expeditions who outfitted our trip on Kilimanjaro (and on our Serengeti safari). Nicholas and his wife Angela put together an awesome and flawless trip for us. Julius our guide, Samuel our cook, and Franky our assistant guide were all top notch.

We'd also like to thank our sponsors (see the last post!)

A Huge Thanks to our Sponsors!!!

First and foremost thanks goes out to Sherpa Adventure Gear for sending Lakpa and I on this great adventure. Sherpa Adventure Gear is a Sherpa-owned outdoor clothing manufacturer based in Nepal. It’s a very cool grassroots company that not only makes most of their gear in Nepal, employing many locals there, but they give back to the community from which they come by donating a portion of their proceeds to the Sherpa Education Fund and setting up additional non-profit partnerships to benefit the health, education, and welfare of underprivileged Sherpa children. Their excellent quality gear has already been proven on successful climbing expeditions on mountains the world over and was critical to the success of our climb.

Thanks also to Cilo Gear who make the best alpine climbing packs in the world. Lakpa and I both used Cilo packs for the entire trip and found them to be excellent companions.

And thanks to Hilleberg Tents who make probably the highest quality and most thought out tent I have ever used.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Summit Success!!

On Friday the 13th, at 6:20 a.m. Lakpa Rita Sherpa became the first Sherpa to complete the Seven Summits by standing atop Kilimanjaro. Lakpa and I successfully climbed the Machame route over 5 days and made our final descent this morning. Everything went great and the weather was near perfect. I will try to upload more images and info, but we are battling with the local computers and internet. Stay tuned...

Lakpa Rita on the summit of Kilimanjaro:

Sunday, February 8, 2009

This Is Africa

I've made it to Tanzania! And Lakpa Rita will be here tonight. The trip was relatively painless - 9 hours to Amersterdam from Seattle, then an 8 hour flight to the Kilimanjaro Airport, followed by another 45 minute drive to the hotel. Of course the 11 hour time difference is always fun too. Tomorrow we will leave for our trip and drive to 1,800 meters at the start of the Machame Route, then hike to 3,100 meters and our first camp. We will spend a total of five days to reach the summit, and one day to descend.
So far it's been great here. I am staying in the town of Arusha, which is southeast of the mountain. The first thing, besides the heat and humidity, that really struck me as I deboarded the plane was the intense smell of vegetation. Unfortunately, we flew over Africa in the dark and the sky has been overcast this morning, so I have yet to see the mountain. On the other hand, the people here I've met have been incredibly friendly and helpful.
We probably won't be able to make another post between now and our climb. So be sure to check back here in about a week for the news!!!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Press Release: Lakpa Rita Sherpa has Seventh Summit in his sights with February climb of Mount Kilimanjaro

Renowned mountain guide expected to make successful bid for summit on February 13th and will be the first Sherpa to climb the highest peaks on all seven continents.

Check out the official press release at: http://www.pitchengine.com/free-release.php?id=3895

Saturday, December 6, 2008

2009 Kilimanjaro Climb

On February 6th, Lakpa Rita Sherpa and I will be headed to climb Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. This will be Lakpa Rita's last of the Seven Summits and he will become the first Sherpa to complete this great achievement. I'll be there to climb with Lakpa Rita and document the trip. Be sure to check back here as we unveil more information about the trip.