Sunday, 31 October 2010

Hiking on Kilimanjaro

I just came back down after leading an amazing grup of 3 beginners in high altitude trekking to the summit of Kilimanjaro 5895 meters in "record speed". We sett off on our summit bid from Karanga Camp at 3943 meters 07.00 and got to the summit at 5895 in 7h 25 min and back to Kosovo camap at 4750 in 1h 25 min Friday the 29th.

I will post some thoughts on hiking on Kilimanjaro and the safety and schedules suggested by most operators and local guides.

Trip notes:

Arrive in Arusha.

Day 1. Depart from the Machame Park Gate to the Machame camp at around 3000 meters. Its about 1200 altitude meters and took us a bit less than 4 hours of trekking in slow comfortable phase with plenty of time to shoot.

Day 2. Departed around 08.30 for Shira Camp at around 3837m. This is a easy and soft day and we reached camp well before lunch still hiking in a slow phase and making sure no one in the group had any significant increased pulse or laboured breathing.

Day 3. Departed around 08.30 and stayaed just under the Lava Tower for an early lunch and then up and down to Barranco camp. Apart from summit day this was the only real full day of hiking. It took us about 5 hors in of hiking time in slow phase.

Day 4. Late departure (09.00) so we could charge toys with the solar panels. This day we did the Barronco wall and reached Karanga Camp at about 3945 meters in 3h. All of us in the group was feeling strong and with an average of 86 in Oxygen saturatio we felt ready for the final push. With the SAT @ 86 we where at the same number as the night before so we decide to go straight from this camp to the summit. It is a big day with 1950 meters of altitude gain in a day. Our local guide had summitted about 150 times but this was his 3rd ever from Karanaga camp.

Day 5. Departing Karanga Camp at 07.00. We summitted Kilimanjaro 5895 meters at 14.25 after doing 1950 meters of altitude gain in 7h and 25 min including a lunch stop at Stella Point for about 20 min. We descended to a camp (Kososv 4750) just above the Barufo camp in 1 hour and 25 minutes and sat down for tee and snacks. We stayed for the night in this camp at 4750 meters and decended to the Mweka Gate the next day in 5 hours.


I monitored the Oxygen saturation and pulse on the group 3 times a day and logged them in a book in order to keep track of performance and health. We all hiked with out ever being out of breath or going very fast. Having a good system of layering that allows you to ventilate and never get wet or cold helps save lots of energy. We worked hard on this.

Hydration and energy. Its key to stay hydrated. We all used 3 liter camel back that we all finished with in the day. On top of the 3 liters we drank as much tee as possible and each night we brought an extra liter of water to bead. During the day and night we had electrolyte spiked water by NUUN. For supplementary energy we used CLIF SHOT BLOKS and Clif Bars.

On summit day we used Caffinated CLIF SHOT BLOKS and Gels as well as Clif Bars. We had 4 liters of NUUN water. Plus a group supply of 3 liters of hoot tee. We supplied all local staff with Clif products to have them go at even phase.

I'd say if you have some kind of climbing background you may be batter off opting for the route called Western Breach starting from the Lavav Tower. Its similar in difficulty to the Barronco wall. One thing to think of is to do this with a small group that can stay close together in order to avoid having rocks falling down on fellow hikers. You don't need ropes but a helmet can be of use.

In general all trekking times outlined in the different guides and maps are hugely over estimated for any one with a very basic fitness level. With the exception of me no one in my group had any previous experience with high altitude hiking. On person had summitted Mt Blanc, one of the other two started preparing and hiking in July. The only reason not to do longer days is to have a few day around 4000 meter to get acclimatized. But be prepared for short soft days.

We opted for doing the summit during the day and I think thats way better than stumbling around at night. Its in general less wind during the day and you avoid wasting energy walking around in the dark, some thing few hikers are used to. One other bonus was that we where alone on the summit! The down side might be visibility on the summit but we had great visibility! Again, layering, hydration and energy food has to be well thought out if you are accending 1950 meters in one push. On the summit day my group was divided in to two groups so I acted as "floater" and moved between the front part and the back adding about 310 extra altitude meters to the 1950 meters so I was a bit tired at the end of the day.


I used ultra light (Gore-Tex) La Sportiva trail running shoes for the entire duration of the trip including summit day. The rest of the group opted for light weight Gore-Tex La Sportiva trekking boots for better ankle support on the summit day all other days they used ultra light trail running shoes.

We all used Patagonia Merino Wool for base layer and socks. We all used the ultra light Patagonia Rain Shadow line for protection. As warming layers we all used the Patagonia R1 Pullover. We all had a Patagonia R3 and a PrimaLoft jackets for warmth at breaks and stops. We all used the Patagonia Simple Guide Pants and Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants. Make sure you have a few extra to change with as its extremely dusty and dirty. I used CRUX eVent shell and a CRUX Torpedo sleeping bag. We all had light 40/45 liter back packs with taped seams. Non of us found gaiters to be of any use.

If you have lots of gadgets to charge you are better off bringing a HET POWER 50 Battery as a back up to your solar gear.

Thanks to Clif Bar and Patagonia

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

And who said its over? Or where to start?

A friend sent me some great shoot from Ceuse to day, I was meant to go but felt "fluish" so I stayed at home trying to gather some energy for my up coming trip to the top of Africa. The sport climbing season is still very much on and projects are getting ticked! If you live in Sweden (or Finland) you have most likely switched to suicidal mood or you enjoy the famous "stick" on the boulders. I don't know about that boulder thing. Steve House published a picture from the seasons first dry tooling day. We all live in very different realities.

I will miss climbing and the great conditions while in Africa trekking but looking forward to a casual trip with friends and some altitude.

Thursday, 14 October 2010


I just had a great time climbing the North Face of Eiger in 15h with Olov a Swedish young gun. Olov has racked up quite an impressive alpine CV in "no" time. Since we had never climbed as a team before we opted for a casual assent with one bivy. We stopped at the Death Bivy for hydration and food at lunch time and then moved up to the bivy spot at the start of the traverse of the Gods. Climbing with Olov was a great pleasure and we had a great time and even during the early hours of the night.

Its was kind of accidental that we ended up doing the Eiger since I have never really looked at the Heckmaier route as an interesting option other than as a winter route. This time of year my attention on Eiger has been the Young Spider and now should be the perfect timing but sadly the ice is not formed. The Heckmaier was how ever a superb route and I think the conditions where good. If we would have been more tuned in as a team we would have done it in a day with out even having to stress. I think we will be back in winter for a 10 h accent.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

An alpinist best friend...

When figuring out what to do and where to go this is one of the single most important instrument to understand what weather you are going to be facing.

Friday, 1 October 2010

The Name of the Game

As I have written on this blog before there is an ongoing inflamed debate in Sweden about route naming and naming ethics. To day Alpinist ( is running a story on this issue.

I have been harsh against the Swedish Climbing Federation and on solid grounds. When DN one of the major daily Swedish newspapers published a story about an upset climber (Hess) and some loud politicians called for banning of "offensive" route names. A few politicians suggested banning climbing on cliffs with offensive route names.

The first response from the Chairman of the Swedish Climbing Federation was to agree that banning offensive route names was a viable solution. How ever after internal discussions the Federation issued a more sober statement basically saying that route naming is not some thing they can influence. The statement was also filled with some BS/PC (Bull Shit/ Politically Correct) statements meant to calm the situation and promise to look at the possibility of issuing a naming policy document. bla bla bla...

Now it seams further gasoline is put on the fire as there is a bit of a misunderstanding with regards to what the Federations position is and isn't. I'd say the Federation is with out a strong position and thats right. Some other think the federation is in favor of restricting naming rights. I think its fair to say that the position the Federation has is that its not there business. Its an issue for the FA, guide book authors and publishers.

In terms of my core argument the freedom of speech and freedom of expression over ride all access issues. But more important what is the world coming to when route naming is becoming political territory? Route naming is a corner stone in the climbing culture and no one has any right to tell the FA what a route can be called. Route names is an essential part of the climbing history and shall be preserved.

Its pathetic to bend over for political pressure and accept any kind of regulation or starting issuing policy documents.