Posted on December 29th, 2012 No comments
On December 28 SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg met Alan Bagley, Andrew Burg, and Scott Evans in Mendoza, Argentina where they staged for an expedition to the highest mountain in the Western Hemisphere. They spent the day securing climbing permits, packing gear, and organizing trip food.
On December 29 they started off from the trail head at Punta de Vacas at 2400m/7874′. It will be a 3-day trek in to Base Camp at 4200m/13,747′. Here is their planned itinerary:
Dec 29: Hike from trailhead at 7874 feet to Pampa de Lenas at 9514 feet
Dec 30: Hike to Casa de Pierdra at 10,630 feet
Dec 31: Hike to Plaza Argentina at 13,747 feet. This is our Base Camp.
Jan 1: Rest day, take small acclimatization hike
Jan 2: Acclimatization hike, prepare loads for higher camps
Jan 3: Carry load to Camp 1, return to Base Camp
Jan 4: Move to Camp 1 at 16,732 feet
Jan 5: Rest and acclimatization day hike
Jan 6: Carry load to Camp 2, return to Camp 1
Jan 7: Move to Camp 2 at 19,127 feet
Jan 8: Rest and acclimatization day, prepare for summit bid
Jan 9: Summit bid
Jan 10: Extra day built in for weather/acclimatization
Jan 11: Extra day built in for weather/acclimatization
Jan 12: Extra day built in for weather/acclimatization
Jan 13: Return to Plaza Argentina Base Camp
Jan 14: Hike to Pampa de Lenas
Jan 15: Hike to trailhead, spend night at Los Penitentes
Jan 16: Drive to Mendoza
They will be calling in updates via satellite phone. We will try to post reports as we hear from them.
Posted on December 24th, 2012 No comments
Our latest climb to Kilimanjaro was another great success! This trip with LA residents Heather Krug and Robyn Stern had been in the works for a year by the time we boarded a flight at LAX bound for Tanzania. Upon arriving we spent adjusting to the time change, which is 11 hours ahead of California. We took a walk through the forest near our hotel, ate lunch in the town of Moshi near our hotel, and packed for our climb. On December 16 we drove to the park gate and started our seven day trek.
Kilimanjaro is the only place in the world where it is possible to climb through five climate zones in five days. We started off in a jungle and a few days later we would be at the summit in an alpine environment that has snow, ice, and dirt but no forms of life at all.
While it is possible to climb Kilimanjaro in less than seven days this cuts short the crucial acclimatization process we need to adjust to the thin air we will be climbing in. We try to average 1000’ per day above 10,000’. This gives enough time for our bodies to keep producing more red blood cells that allow our circulatory system to carry more oxygen, which is important as the air gets thinner at increasingly higher elevation. For many of our clientele Kilimanjaro (5895m/19,340’) this is the first time they have been this high in elevation. Robyn and Heather’s training program included hiking peaks in Southern California including San Gorgonio (11,499’/3505m) and Mt. Baldy (10,064’/3607m). Robyn had also climbed Mt. Whitney (14,508’/4422m) with us over the summer and Heather had trekked in New Zealand.
As we ascended through the different temperate zones the landscape and scenery changed with each one offering its own unique beauty. At lunchtime on December 20 we arrived at our highest camp at 4600m/15,100’, which put us in position for our summit attempt the following day. We had an early dinner and got to sleep well before it was dark because we had planned to leave for the summit at 11pm. We would climb through the night and hopefully be high on the mountain by sunrise.
At a few minutes after 11pm we left camp bound for the summit. We were treated to a warm, clear, and windless night. Climbing at a steady measured pace we navigated by headlamp and were treated to a beautiful blanket of stars above. We took a few breaks along the way for water and food and found ourselves reaching the crater rim of Kilimanjaro at 4:30am. It was still dark and we were ahead of schedule! Kilimanjaro is a dormant volcano. The top of it is a large oval shaped crater. We reached the crater rim at an area called Stella Point at 5737m/18,821’. From here it takes 45 – 60 minutes to traverse around the crater to its highest point they call Uhuru Peak at 5895m/19,340’.
Once we hit approximately 5500m or 18,000’ we have half the oxygen that is present at sea level. Climbing in this rarified air requires 1-3 deep breaths for each step we take up hill. We took a 10 minute break at Stella Point then started off on the last push towards the summit. As we neared the top we could see the first evidence of sunrise out to the east. We reached the “Roof of Africa” at 5:30am!
We spent a few minutes taking summit photos and enjoying the view as it began getting light enough to see around. The weather was cold with a slight morning breeze beginning to pick up. We were bundled up in several warm clothing layers including our puffy down jackets. At 5:55am it was time to begin our descent. As we retraced our steps we were treated to the awe inspiring view Kilimanjaro always offers of the sunrise over the African plains!
Heather and Robyn are now off on a game viewing safari to unwind after a great adventure. Thanks to everybody at home for your loving support and prayers during our climb!!
Below are a few pictures. The entire gallery of photos taken during the trip can be viewed here:
Posted on December 21st, 2012 1 comment
At 5:30am on December 21 Robyn Stern reached the summit of Kilimanjaro with SMI founder Kurt Wedberg. They reported beautiful weather for their summit day, clear skies and little to no wind. Stars were out in full force. They descended to Mweka Camp at 3100m/10,170′. They plan to sleep here tonight then make the final 3 hour trek to exit the mountain tomorrow.
Below are some pictures. More stories and pictures are coming soon! Congratulations Robyn and Kurt!