I said to the main guide: “No, I’m not proceeding from here, give me a guide to go down with me”. I did not know that I could so calmly and rationally make the decision to turn back. And that decision was obivious right after I saw what was the weather on the edge of the crater. This climb was my “big dream” to climb to the roof of Africa and see the glaciers. Over ten years I had been waiting for this opportunity and now I was calling it off.
We were at Gilman’s Point, 5681 meters, third highest peak of Mt Kilimanjaro. Rest of the team was still planning to go further, there was some 150 meters to acent to the Uhuru Peak, which was approximately 1,5 hours to walk. The weather was horrible, hard wind (20-25m/s) and snowing. You could not see properly and of course the wind factor did not make weather any better. We did not have ropes, no axes, no crampoons – there is no possiblity to self arrest if, for example, you would loose the balance due to the wind. And from the Gilman’s Point to the summit, the route follows pretty narrow edge of the crater quite some time.
So I turned back, rest of the team was still wanting to carry on. Going down was fast and easy and once I had the first break at the Hans Meyer Cave at 5150 meters, I noticed that rest of the team was decending as well. Later, I was happy to hear that our local main guide did not allow anyone to proceed. Same was with other teams who arrived to the Gilman’s Point.
The Route we hiked up was Rongai, the only one approaching from the north, nice and easy going route. Camps were ok, quite a lot of people thou, but that was normal considering the time of the year. This route joined with Marangu, so called Coca Cola route, in its last parts.
We expected bad weather already when we left from the Mawenzi camp. The saddle between Mawenzi and Kibo (where the highest peak of Kilimanjaro is) was covered with snow which is not that usual. The summit night was rainy when we started from the School Hut at 4750 meters. Quickly it started to snow and that continued until to the very end. We were at Gilman’s Point at 7 am as planned, but unfortunately this time there was no sun rise visible. Once decending weather got pretty ok some hundred meters lower.
During the hike I was feeling really okay all the time. Tired but ok, and no problems with the high altitude. Most likely one reason for this was a good acclimatisation climb to the Mt Kenya. Great two weeks behind, a lot of experience gained again. Was time to take the flight to the Sansibar to meet my family.
Summit attempt date: 9.2.2014
Mt Kilimanjaro, 5895 meters
Operator and guide: Aventura, Samuli Mansikka
Enjoy the picture collection of Mt Kenya and Mt Kilimanjaro 2014