Category: Africa

SMI’s Second Kilimanjaro Team 2017 gears up for summit day!

Kilimanjaro with Snow on top

SMI’s second Kilimanjaro Team 2017 goes for the summit! They chose to summit via the Northern Circuit Route, a seldom traveled route up Kilimanjaro. They started their trek on February 18, 2017. Follow their journey with us as Kurt Wedberg, SMI Founder, keeps us updated!

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David Schucker and Bryan Miller fresh off the plane in Tanzania

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Diane Tsuda, David Schucker, Bryan Miller, and Andy Schucker start their trek in the jungle!

 

 


 

February 23, 2017

Greetings from Mawenzi Tarn Camp at 4315m on the flanks of Kilimanjaro. Our team just finished day 6 of our 9-day climb.  We started on February 18 at the Lemosho Gate at 2100m. We trekked under the jungle canopy and we’re treated to sightings of Black & White Colobus Monkey’s jumping between tree branches.  Kilimanjaro is the only place where one can pass through 5 climate zones in as many days. Over the past several days we have climbed through the Cultivation & Jungle zones into the Moorland & Sub Alpine zones.

Our team chose the remote and seldom traveled Northern Circuit Route. We’ve been treated to beautiful views of the upper flanks of Kilimanjaro covered with fresh snow from recent storms. We’ve had rain 5 out of 6 days usually after arriving at camp.  The team remains in great spirits enjoying the discovery that accompanies the views each new day brings. Tomorrow we move to to our high camp at 4700m in preparation for our summit bid the following day.

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February 24, 2017

Greetings from 4720m at the Kibo Hut; our high camp on Kilimanjaro! Our team spent last night at the Mawenzi Tarn Camp at 4315m underneath Mt Mawenzi. This impressive satellite peak was formed during the first eruption of Kilimanjaro.  Today we got an early start to trek towards our camp enjoying stunning views of the mountain we came to climb. We spent this afternoon preparing our gear for summit day, hydrating and resting. An early dinner will be followed by early to sleep so we can wake early for summit day. We’ll start wearing headlamps and climb through the night with the goal of reaching the summit in  the early morning.

Everybody has acclimatized well to the high elevation. We’re feeling great and psyched for our summit bid to the Roof of Africa!

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Stay tuned as the second SMI Kilimanjaro 2017 team make for their summit bid on Kilimanjaro! Follow on our Facebook and Instagram @smiguides

The Kilimanjaro 2017 team makes headway!

The SMI Kilimanjaro 2017 Team makes more headway up to the “roof of Africa”! SMI guide Alex Barber checks in:


February 6, 2016

Hello again,

Tonight we’re checking in from Umbwe Cave Camp at 9600ft. This morning we had another coffee centric breakfast at the Springlands hotel. Afterwhich we all piled in our Zara van and spent an hour driving to the Umbwe gate at 5200ft.

The day started hot and humid but the canopy of the rainforest gave us some relief. As our hike took us higher and higher the temp’s cooled, a light breeze picked up along with a light rain. Throughout the day we spotted two types of Monkey and a plethora of different species of bird and plant life, all in all, an engaging day!

We arrived in camp this afternoon feeling good and spent the remainder of our day drinking tea and shootin’ the breeze. Tomorrow we head to Barranco Camp at 12,800ft, the team is excited to be on the trail and ready to bite off another good chunk of Kilimanjaro!

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Giant Senacio Trees at Barranco Camp

February 7, 2017

Today the team is checking in from Barranco Camp at 12,800ft. After a relaxed breakfast in Umbwe Cave camp we hit the trail under clear skies. As we ascended through the Moorlands and into the low alpine zone, the day became cloudy and then quite rainy. The team handled the weather in stride and soon we found ourselves walking into our dining tent at Barranco Camp. We arrived at 2pm and spent a lazy afternoon playing cards and drinking tea, we’ve got a tough lifestyle up here…

Tomorrow we’ll take a acclimatization hike to Lava Tower then return to Barranco camp for a second night. The whole team is in high spirits and ready to keep chipping away at Kilimanjaro!

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Western Breach Wall at sunset from Barranco Camp

February 8, 2017

Hello from Barranco Camp,

Today the team hiked to Lava Tower at 15,000ft, which was a new high point for everyone. We took a nice long break there and enjoyed the good weather before making our way back to Barranco camp. We arrived to a tasty hot lunch, prepared by our fantastic local support staff.

Tomorrow we will make our way to Karanga Camp, our shot at the roof of Africa is rapidly approaching!

Approaching Lava Tower at 4600m/15,091’

 


Follow more updates on SMI’s Kilimanjaro 2017 team on our Facebook and Instagram @smiguides

SMI’s Kilimanjaro 2017 team arrives!

Aaaaand… SMI is off to start another adventure! This time, our strong team will be ascending Kilimanjaro, a dormant volcano and tallest peak in Africa, towering at an intimidating 19,341 feet. SMI guide extraordinaire Alex Barber, is leading this trip and has just updated on the team’s status:


This is Alex Barber checking in from SMI’s first 2017 Kilimanjaro Climb.

The team arrived late yesterday after some long flights and thankfully so did all of our luggage.
The team had a wonderful breakfast here at the Springlands hotel while getting acqainted with one another. After our leisurely breakfast, we took a stroll through the local farmlands, watching the vibrant people go about their daily work. During our stroll we spotted a wide variety of wildlife. After a mid-day siesta we went into the town of Moshi and walked the local markets, sampling fruit and perusing stores stacked full of trinkets.

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A hot day was broken in the afternoon by a cool breeze and we spent the remainder of our day doing gear checks and repacking our bags for the start of the climb tomorrow. We capped off the day with a delicous buffet style dinner pared with lively conversation.

Everyone is doing well here and we’re excited to start our climb of Kilimanjaro!


Follow more updates on SMI’s Kilimanjaro 2017 team on our facebook and instagram @smiguides

Our New Web Site is Live!!

Mt. Whitney (14,508’/4422m) in morning alpenglow.

Greetings from Bishop, CA!  We hope this finds everybody well and enjoying the fall season.  After a busy summer and fall we have been hard at work planning for 2014.  We have also launched a new web site for your viewing pleasure.  We invite you to have a look and come with us on a trip!

As of this writing SMI guides April Mayhew and Kurt Wedberg are off to Argentina for an Aconcagua expedition.  Back home in the Sierra the weather is getting cold and we’ve seen some of our first significant snowfall.  We’re gearing up for winter time activities including ice climbing, backcountry skiing, and avalanche courses.

Basin Mountain and surrounding skyline on Sunday November 24, 2013 after our recent snowstorm.

Here is a brief listing of some of our upcoming offerings for 2014.  We hope to see you on a trip with us in 2014!

Aconcagua:  Trip #1:  November 29 – December 17, 2013,  Trip #2:  December 27 – January 17. We still have a couple openings on both of our upcoming expeditions to the highest mountain in South America.

Mt. Kenya:  February 1-10, 2014.  A technical rock climb up the second highest mountain in Africa.  The climbing ranges from low 5th class up to 5.7.  It’s in a beautiful, remote, and wild setting overlooking the beautiful East Africa jungles.

Kilimanjaro and Safari:  February 11-25, 2014.  A 7-day climb of the highest mountain in Africa combined with a game viewing safari where we see some of the most spectacular wildlife on our planet!

Mt. Whitney:  Winter/spring 4-day climbs and summer 3-day climbs of the highest mountain in the contiguous United States.

Ice Climbing Courses:  Ice is forming now in Lee Vining Canyon and June Lake.  Come up and discover the exhilaration of climbing ice in these premier destinations.

Avalanche Classes:  Learn essential skills to evaluate snow conditions in backcountry travel.  We also include rescue training using transceivers and probes.

 

Successful Game Viewing Safari February 6-10, 2013!!

A cheetah in the Serengeti. Cheetah's are lean powerful cats built for speed. They're the fastest animals on our planet capable of speeds of 70-75mph/112-120kph for distances of up to 1600'+/500m when hunting prey.

SMI guides Kurt Wedberg and April Mayhew are back in Moshi, Tanzania after leading another amazing game viewing safari in Tanzania.  Joining them on safari was Dan Cherico, James Gault, Beth Keller, and Emily McIntyre along with Christine Loredo and Frank Martin who stayed for one day.  Over five days the group visited Lake Manyara National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, and the great Serengeti Plains.  They also visited a Masai village and saw the Olduvai Gorge archaeological site.  At the end of their five days they flew from the Serengeti back to Arusha, Tanzania where some continued on to Zanzibar Island while others flew home.

April and Kurt are now awaiting the arrival of their next group of 11 folks who will attempt to climb Kilimanjaro (5895m/19,340′) February 14-20.  Stay tuned for highlights from this climb.

Below are some pictures from the animals the group saw on safari.

 

A lioness with a cub survey's the landscape from the perch of a tree in the Serengeti.

 

A mother leopard checking out a hollow log before letting her cubs enter it for hiding.

A leopard cub learning to survey the landscape for danger from the top of a fallen log. It’s mother was watching from a nearby tree.

Zebra's in the Ngorongoro Crater. Zebra stripes are as unique as human fingerprints. When in a herd their stripe patterns make it difficult for predators to tell them apart from one another.

A zebra couple courting in the Ngorongoro Crater.

A mother elephant giving herself a mud bath in the Serengeti. Elephants use mud as a cooling mechanism during the heat of the day.

A hippo yawning in the Serengeti. Hippo's spend most of the daytime hours submerged up to their heads in water. They're herbivores and only use the large front teeth for fighting.

An Olive Baboon baby hitching a ride on its mother's back in Lake Manyara National Park.

A Blue Sykes Monkey in Lake Manyara National Park.

A Masai Giraffe eating acacia tree leaves in the Serengeti. Giraffes are the tallest animals in the world with some males reaching over 19'/6m. Their food supply is therefore plentiful since no animals can reach where they normally eat.

Cheetah's scanning the landscape while a third rests in the bushes to the left.

Hippos play fighting in the Serengeti.

Elephant mother and a calf less than a year old in the Serengeti. Elephants don't have any natural predators besides lions who will attack unguarded calves. Mothers usually keep their young close by and protected from danger.

Safari in style!! Dan Cherico, James Gault, Beth Keller, Emily McIntyre, and April Mayhew loaded up and ready for safari with SMI founder Kurt Wedberg and his long time safari driver Tarimu from Marangu, Tanzania in front. Tarimu is a skilled driver who knows the game parks and is intimately familiar with the behavior patterns of the animals. Kurt and Tarimu have been running safaris together since 1998 having countless memorable events over the years together. Tarimu drives a 4x4 Land Rover equipped with a removable rooftop, air conditioning, and electric charging ports. The vehicle can comfortably seat seven people in addition to Tarimu.

After an excellent 5-day safari the group is ready to fly out of the Serengeti for a birds eye view of the terrain we just covered over the preceding days!

 

Kilimanjaro Wrap Up December 16-22, 2012

 

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:

http://www.kurtwedbergphotography.com/International-Expeditions/Africa/Kilimanjaro-December-2012/27097563_8HJXDH

 

 

December 16: Robyn, Kurt, and Heather at the start of the Machame Route on Kilimanjaro.

Heather and Robyn hiking through the jungle en route to Camp 1.

Our porters carrying loads on day 1. Our Chagga staff carries most of our gear so we can carry light day packs.

The jungle environment is rich with exotic plants and wildflowers.

Our tents at Machame Camp, Camp 1 at 3000m/9842'

Afternoon tea and popcorn at Camp 1.

Kilimanjaro from Camp 1 on the morning of December 17, day 2 of our climb.

Robyn psyched on the trekking and scenery on day 2.

Heather taking in the views at a water break during our trek to Camp 2.

Camp 2 at 3864m/12,620'. The peak in the distance is Mt. Meru, a satellite peak of Kilimanjaro.

Heather and Robyn hiking on December 18, day 3 of our climb.

Kurt and Robyn at our high point on day 3; Lava Tower at 4610m/15,170'.

Kilimanjaro's Western Breach Wall from Camp 3 at 3940m/12,926'

Lobilia plant near Camp 3. There are five varieties of lobilia. Their distinguishing feature is the leaf structure funnels water into the center of the plant where it can drink it as needed.

Kurt, Heather, and Robyn saddled up and ready to hike on day 4.

Giant Senacio plants near Camp 3.

Late afternoon light at Karanga Camp, Camp 4 at 3930m/12,893'.

Heather, Kurt, and Robyn at Karanga Camp on the morning of day 5. Heather decided to descend from here and not try for the summit. After saying goodbye Robyn and Kurt ascended to high camp and Heather returned to our hotel.

Sunset at Barafu Camp, Camp 5 at 4600m/15,100'.

Robyn dressed up and ready for summit day!

High on the crater rim of Kilimanjaro at dawn. Seeing the sunrise over the African plains is one of the most breathtaking events to witness in Africa!

Robyn's summit photo with the sign that sits atop the highest point in Africa.

December 21, 2012, 5:30am: Robyn and Kurt on the summit of Kilimanjaro 5895m/19,340'

Kilimanjaro Team Reaches Summit!

VICTORY!

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!

Greetings from high camp at 15,100′ on Kilimanjaro!

Since our last update we have been moving steadily higher putting ourselves in position for our summit attempt tomorrow.  Along the way we have seen amazing scenery and experienced everything from sunny days to rain.  Sitting here at high camp we have a clear day with clouds forming below us.  Our spirits are high and we’re very psyched to be ready to attempt the summit in the morning.

Our plan is to wake in the middle of the night and hike by headlamp with the intention of getting close to the crater rim at sunrise.  We will then traverse the crater rim to Kilimanjaro’s highest point they call Ururu Peak at 5895m/19,340′.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we attempt to reach the “Roof of Africa”!

Below are some pictures depicting the last few days…. Enjoy!