Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest peak in the whole continent of Africa. It is in Tanzania within the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kilimanjaro National Park. Climbing this peak has a unique vibe of pride and succession. But what is the difficulty level of Kilimanjaro? Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a challenging task to do. The difficulty rate is higher than any other mountain since it features technical cliffs and landscapes that require great physical fitness, mentality, preparation with gear and equipment, and more.
So what are the challenges that come by while climbing Mount Kilimanjaro? Let’s discuss this here!
Physical Challenges & Mental Challenges
Mount Kilimanjaro lies 5,895 meters above sea level, and it is not an easy feat to conquer such an altitude. It requires great physical fitness, endurance, strength, and stamina to reach the top of this mountain. The initial phase of the Kilimanjaro expedition is supported by road, which can be traveled by jeep. During this time, there is no pressure on physical needs, but once we reach the Machame Camp, stamina and physical strength are essential.
Climbers have to hike uphill and elevate the altitude by around 800 meters, which can be challenging. The total distance from Machame Camp to Shira Camp is around 8 kilometers. While climbers must pass through the remote landscapes and trails rich in giant groundsel, senecios, and lobelia, they must traverse through a river gorge.
From Shira Camp (3,800 m/12,500 ft), climbers must traverse through several high-altitude locations such as Barranco Camp (3,900 m/12,900 ft), Karanga Valley (4,055 m/13,300 ft), and Kosovo Camp (4,815m/15,800 ft), before starting the climb to the top of Kilimanjaro.
From Kosovo Camp, it takes nearly 7 to 8 hours to reach the top, which is physically challenging. Many states that climbing Kilimanjaro is not as technical as climbing Everest and other peaks. But still, the climb is physically demanding as the hike is a multi-hour journey, and the package itself is a multi-day package.
Similarly, mental challenges exist while the climb is a multi-day package and comes with several difficulties. Similarly, the extreme weather patterns, uneven terrains, and high altitude make climbers think for the second time regarding their expedition. It is recommended to prepare physically by hiking to high altitude destinations and increasing cardiovascular strength and stamina by hitting the gym and workouts.
Mount Kilimanjaro is over 5500 meters above sea level, and it is indeed a high-altitude location. While high altitude is uneasy to access, it also comes with several risks and dangers, like altitude sickness, freezing temperatures, sharp winds, and storms. These things should be considered before embarking on Mount Kilimanjaro Expedition and plan accordingly.
Mount Kilimanjaro is not considered challenging for no reason. Reports cite that around 50% of climbers suffer from mountain sickness. Similarly, the top of the mountain is the scariest part of climbing Kilimanjaro as climbers have to encounter sharp winds, low oxygen, and temperatures below 0 Degree Celsius. There is a high chance of suffering from AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness), HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema), and HACE (High Altitude Celebral Edema). So carrying safety measures, including oxygen supplements, is highly recommended. Some climbers even intake Diamox to stay out of altitude sickness dangers. Similarly, high altitudes pose high risks of falls, frostbite due to cold temperatures, and difficulty breathing due to thin air and low oxygen.
Similarly, during the off-season climbing package, climbers encounter several hazards, including snowfall, rainfall, and others. So plan according to the time of year you are traveling to Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Kilimanjaro Peak is challenging since it comprises uneven terrains and rugged trails. The trails feature steep inclines, loose gravel, and rocky paths, which might create barriers in easy and convenient navigation to Mount Kilimanjaro.
And if you are climbing Kilimanjaro during the rainy season, then most of the trails are wet and slippery. It will certainly lag your journey and consumes more time to climb it.
Training, Preparation, and Safety Measures
We already know that climbing Kilimanjaro needs a great level of physical and mental preparation. But how can we prepare to beat the risks and dangers around the peak? What steps and guidelines can we follow to embark on a safe and sound expedition? Let’s explore this in detail.
Preparing with physical features
While Kilimanjaro Expedition is a multi-day package, it needs hours of hiking daily. Doing this every day might not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, with better preparations and it can be done wisely. So for physical preparation, climbers can go for high-altitude treks and expeditions and prepare themselves in advance. In addition, they can practice staying at high altitudes by exposing themselves to such destinations and going through altitude and lung training. Similarly, climbers must have sturdy muscle power, which can be gained by hitting gyms, cardio exercises, and calisthenics.
Moreover, it is mandatory to have technical mountain climbing training, so it will be easy to conquer Kilimanjaro easily.
Acclimatization is the major solution to stay out of altitude sickness dangers. The steps of acclimatization include gradual ascent and descent. It means climbers hike uphill to the high-altitude destinations in the afternoon, and they descend to lower altitudes for an overnight stay at a tent. This helps in adjusting the body in existing altitudes.
Besides, hydration, enough sleep and rest, proper nutrition, and safety measures affect climbing Kilimanjaro. They all come under acclimatization, so strict acclimatization is crucial.
Required Equipment and Gear
- Moisture-wicking and quick-drying shirts and pants.
- Insulating Layers like Fleece jackets, down jackets, or synthetic insulated jackets.
- Waterproof and windproof jacket and pants (hardshell).
- Lightweight, quick-drying, and durable Hiking Pants.
- Moisture-wicking underwear and sports bras for comfort.
- Thick, moisture-wicking, and blister-resistant socks.
- Sun hat, beanie, and buff/neck gaiter to protect against sun, cold, and wind.
- Sturdy, waterproof, well-fitting hiking boots.
- Backpack with a capacity of 30-40 liters.
- Sleeping Bag rated for sub-zero temperatures.
- Sleeping Pad for added comfort and insulation.
- Trekking Poles.
- UV-protected sunglasses
- Toiletries include toothbrushes, toothpaste, biodegradable soap, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and wet wipes.
- First Aid Kit, like basic first aid supplies, blister treatment, and any personal medications.
Get Insights on:
- Tips for climbing Kilimanjaro
- First Person to Climb Mount Kilimanjaro
- Kilimanjaro vs Everest Base Camp Trek
Hiring Guides and Porters
Hiring guides and porters is one of the best measures to mitigate the difficulty level of climbing Kilimanjaro. As they help us in navigation and carrying our loads, we can expect an enjoyable time during the climb.
Professional guides are well-acknowledged with the local landscapes of Mount Kilimanjaro. They have extensive knowledge about the remote trails, terrains, routes, and landmarks around the region. So they can always offer the best and easy route to the top of Kilimanjaro. In addition, having a guide in your group eliminates the risk of getting lost in a remote location. They can help in cultural immersion as they are fluent in local languages and help us communicate with local people and know their culture, history, and traditions.
Similarly, porters help us by carrying our heavy loads of gear and belongings. It will lift our heavy loads and offers much time to delve into action. Similarly, we can get spare time to enjoy the vistas of Mountain peaks, plateaus, grasslands, and gorges.