No matter what, the summit night on Mount Kilimanjaro will be a challenge! All of our 8 day trips on Kilimanjaro start the summit night from Kosovo Camp. Normally, trips leave from Barafu Camp, but in order to give our clients the best chance of success, we use Kosovo Camp. Barafu Camp sits at 4,650m/ 15,256 feet and Kosovo camp is at 4,900m/ 16,076 feet. Your Kilimanjaro climb will come down to one long summit night and day. If you are leaving from Barafu Camp, you will likely leave around midnight, and if you are leaving from Kosovo Camp, you will leave around 12.45am. No matter where you leave from, it is a long, slow and mental challenge to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro at 5,895m/ 19,341 feet.
If you want to be successful on Kilimanjaro, then check this link out with all you need to know about climbing Kilimanjaro.
Our Approach to Summit Night on Kilimanjaro
After 17 years of climbing on Kilimanjaro we have developed the best approach to summit night to maximize safety and success. If weather allows and winds are low, we will be taking off from the higher camp of Kosovo, just below 16,000 feet. The reason that our teams can do this is because we have taken adequate time to acclimatize lower down. If you are only on a 5-7 day trip, it would be very dangerous to go all the way to Kosovo Camp for the night. The reason for this is that your body would not be able to cope with the altitude after only a few days acclimatizing.
Our teams aim to reach Barafu camp at 11:00am or Kosovo camp at 12 mid day. Indeed, this will give our bodies the time for additional acclimatization and most importantly rest and sleep. By staying at the higher camp, we will also position ourselves away from the noise of the main camp.
At approximately 10:30pm it will be time to get up and to start getting dressed and your gear ready. It is important to start slowly drinking water. The goal would be to try and drink 2 liters of water before you leave on the summit night. At 11:30pm/ 12:15am we will be served breakfast in the dining tent and you can fill your Nalgene bottles with boiled water for the night ahead. Some people like to have 2 Nalgene bottles (2 liters of water) for their summit attempt. This is a personal choice on how much you carry. Make sure you keep well hydrated during the whole trip and even prior to joining the Kilimanjaro climb. Our Head Guide is Kilimanjaro’s Number 1 Guide so you will be in good hands.
Start Walking at Midnight on Kilimanjaro
At midnight, we will start walking to the summit. We will aim to gain 200m/ 656 vertical feet, per hour on route to the summit. Our goal on the summit night is to keep a very strict routine while going up. We will walk for an hour and then stop, drink water, eat some snacks and go to the toilet just off the trail. Each stop will be 5 to 7 minutes, depending on the weather. We will repeat this for the next 5 hours as we slowly edge our way above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet. As we reach this elevation we may need to stop every 20/30 minutes as the lack of oxygen becomes more challenging. At this stage, we will begin to slowly move towards Stella Point, as light hits the horizon.
The last section up to Stella point is one of the hardest during the night. It will be very slow and steady. Once we get to Stella Point, it will likely be very cold, so we will rest for 5 minutes and have some hot tea. Then, we will continue the 50 minutes to the true summit. The terrain is now a little easier than the previous hours to reach Stella Point. The lack of oxygen is challenging, so you need to make sure you are focusing on deep breathing all the way up to the summit. Getting oxygen into your body is the most important thing you should be thinking about on your summit attempt. After 6/7 hours of walking up hill you will reach the summit of Kilimanjaro!
Standing on the Summit of Kilimanjaro
Enjoy the achievement of reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro!! Next, we will begin to move as a team back to high camp, which should take about 3 hours. It is extremely important to get back down below 5,500m/ 18,000 feet as quickly as possible. Depending on what time we reach high camp, you will have some time to rest, re-hydrate, eat a full lunch, pack your bag and slowly make your way down the trail. We will make our way all the way down to Mweka Camp at 3,100m/ 10,171 feet. From the summit, this is a 2,795m/ 9,170 feet drop down to the camp! This WILL likely be one of the most challenging days of your life to cover this distance!
We highly recommend our 8 day climbs as you want to give yourself the best and safest chance at trekking to 5,895m/ 19,341ft. Watch the video above to see some raw footage from the summit night on Kilimanjaro. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.
Lack of Physical Preparation is Risking Safety
Ian has climbed Kilimanjaro over 35+ times now. From his experiences on the mountain, the place he sees clients struggle the most is on the final two hours to the Crater Rim. You need to keep moving because of the cold, and the pace will be super slow. Therefore, you will be able to take your time the team can take multiple short stops at this stage. It is now a mental game and you have to believe in yourself and dig deep. Most of the hard work is done, so dig deep and you can make it to the top. Read our training advice.
Sleeping Lower Aids in your Recovery
After you have enjoyed the summit of Kilimanjaro, you will then need to drop down out of this extreme altitude. As we said above, it will take approximately 3 hours to get back to high camp. After the break in high camp, you will pack up and have approximately a further 3 hours to Mweaka Camp at 3,100m/ 10,170 feet. You will be back in the rain forest and now you can celebrate you summit success. This can be a 14 hour day in total, and be very difficult! Therefore, you need the best acclimatization and lead in to this challenging summit night climb on Kilimanjaro. CLICK HERE for more information on our climbs.
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