Located in Tanzania, Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 19,334 feet and is one of the seven summits (tallest peak on each continent). Kili is the largest free standing mountain in the world and is the tallest of three volcanoes that were formed 700+ thousand years ago. The mountain is referred to by local tribes as the White Mountain because of it snow capped peak. The glaciers on the summit are melting quickly and some scientists predict that they will be gone within ten years.
In 2002, I joined my brother, several extended family members and friends on a climb to the roof of Africa. Over the six day endeavor, we walked through five different ecosystems ranging from flat prairies to ice encrusted volcano rims. We ascended on the hardest trekking route, the Machame Route. The route took us through the cloud forest on the southern slopes, across the dry Shira plateau, over the steep Baranco Wall and up the Barafu trail to the crater rim. All twelve climbers in our group avoided serious bouts of altitude sickness and summated Mount Kilimanjaro together. One of my uncle’s was so full of elation that he felt compelled to renditions of Rocky climbing the stairs on Philly. Nice...
One key to our success on Mount Kilimanjaro was the five day acclimatization hike that some of us went on the week prior. We climbed to the trekkers peak (Point Lenana, 16,355 feet) on Mount Kenya. Mount Kenya is a beautiful mountain and I found it to be more scenic that Mount Kilimanjaro. The mountain is part of a national park that is in UNESCO’s reserve portfolio. I know that I acclimatized well because I spent much of the final night vomiting and unable to sleep. A preliminary sign of altitude sickness. The required guide and porters did a fantastic job of setting up camp and cooking. Water sanitation was always an issue and we all stayed healthy, so kudos to them.