Kilimanjaro 2015
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Kilimanjaro 2015 - 26 June to 4 July - Machame Route

René Hochreiter, Jon Dudas, Eric Ford, Ivan Suzor, Amy Suzor, Justin Suzor, René Arthur, Conor Arthur, Paul Geldenhuis, Ian Crowe, Peter Crowe

 | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 - Summit Day | Day 8 |Kilimanjaro 2015 Picture Gallery|
Breaking News: All 11 members of our group summited at 11.30 am on Thursday 2nd July 2015. Congratulations!

Machame Route
Shown in Red

This trip to Mount Kilimanjaro (5 895 m) is René Hochreiter's fourth, René Arthur's second and it is the first trip for the remaining group members. The trip was originally planned as a COET (Wits Mining Class of Eighty-Two) reunion including René Hochreiter, Jon Dudas and Eric Ford, who have been friends for 33 years since their Mining Engineering student days. The group then gradually expanded until there were 11 members. Included are four younger climbers: Amy and Justin Suzor, who are in their early twenties,  and Conor Arthur and Paul Geldenhuis, who are 15 years of age. We wish the group an enjoyable trip and a successful summit on Day 7.

Machame Route Elevation Profile

Mt Kilimanjaro From the Plane - Photo by Jon Dudas

René H at O R Tambo with Kilimanjaro Gear

Itinerary and graphics courtesy of Wild Frontiers Brochure

Day 1, Friday 26th June 2015
Moshi (888m)

On arrival at Kilimanjaro International Airport you will be met and transferred to Moshi, Keys Hotel, where you will spend the night. A climb briefing is scheduled for today in order to meet your guides and to discuss the expedition with you in person.

Day 1 Report

René H reports that the group has arrived safely in Moshi except René & Conor Arthur and Paul Geldenhuis, who have been delayed in Nairobi, and will be arriving at midnight tonight. The group had  delicious steaks for dinner as well as numerous Tusker beers to provide the energy they need for their climb tomorrow!

Keys Hotel, Moshi

Machame Gate: Start of the Kilimanjaro Hike
Photo courtesy of

Rainforest on Day 2
Photo courtesy of
Day 2, Saturday 27th June 2015
Machame Gate (1 490 m)

Walking Distance: 18 km
Walking Time: 5 to 7 hours
Altitude Gain: 1 490 m

After breakfast you will be transferred to the Machame Gate at Kilimanjaro National Park from where your hike starts. Today, you walk through the beautiful rain forest with dense vegetation, often on a muddy trail with short sections of steep climbs. The trekking pace is slow and very comfortable, ensuring you have enough time to enjoy the natural surroundings, take a photo and nibble on the packed lunch which we provide. The first campsite, Machame Camp, is on the edge of the dense rain forest, offering your first peek of the mountain in the distance.

Day 2 Report

Our group has arrived at Machame Camp after climbing in the mist all afternoon. They are tired but happy and report that the camp is "luxurious" - albeit a little dusty.  They have all had a good clean-up and will sleep well tonight. They enjoyed a welcome dinner of leek soup and noodles for starters, beef stew for the main course and  Milo to end with. Everybody's oxygen uptake is good although their heart rates have increased due to the altitude (almost 3 000 m) and they are feeling just a little breathless. Tomorrow's wake-up call will be at 6.30 am with an 8 am departure. The guide has added in an acclimatisation session for tomorrow afternoon - so, no rest for the wicked!

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Day 3, Sunday 28th June 2015
Machame Camp (2980 m) to New Shira Camp (3 840 m)

Walking Distance: 9 km
Waking Time: 4 to 6 hours
Altitude Gain: 860 m

From Machame Camp the trail continues over steeper terrain interspersed with easy walking. The vegetation changes to increasingly sparse trees and from bushes into moorland. There are generally plenty of proteas and erica flowers en route as you gain height along the path. Views of Kibo and Uhuru peak with its snow-capped summit become a regular sight as you near Shira Camp. The camp itself is one of the most scenic as it allows views towards the west with Mount Meru in the distance and it offers views of Kibo (the top of Mount Kilimanjaro). You often see the most spectacular sunsets from Shira with the clouds below you and the higher mountain peaks peeking through to catch the last bit of sunshine. Just a short hike from the camp are the Shira Caves. This makes a very nice acclimatisation walk before you enjoy a sumptuous dinner and a good night's rest.

Day 3 Morning Report

From René H and Jon: The group is halfway to Shira Camp having completed 370 m of today's vertical total of 860 m. Everybody is doing well and there is a great deal of chatting - though the climbers are getting a little quieter as the path gets steeper. The weather is very good - hot and sunny (try Jo'burg, chaps - it is icy!). Sleeping in a small tent is a little awkward - René's  mattress is hard and Jon has been waking up every 2 hours. He also finds it difficult packing his gear in such a confined space. (It really is tough in Africa!) René H is happy to report that they saw streaky-headed seedeaters and white-naped ravens en route this morning.

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Beautiful Proteas Along the Route

Route from Machame to Shira Camp
Photo courtesy of

New Shira Camp

New Shira Camp
Photo courtesy of

Day 4, Monday 29th June 2015
New Shira Camp (3 840 m) to Lava Tower (4 630 m) to Barranco Camp (3 950 m)

Walking Distance: 15 km
Walking Time: 7 to 9 hours
Altitude Gain: 110 m + 680 m to Lava Tower

Today you hike up to 4 630 m while crossing a ridge and viewing the plains far below. Hiking through the alpine desert with boulders scattered around and dust hugging the rocks gives the illusion that you are walking on the moon. At Lava Tower, a big rocky outcrop, you have views of the ancient glacier ice of the Breach Wall on Kibo before descending to Barranco Camp. The path passes the "Garden of the Senecios", which features many of the huge senecio plants as well as lobelia plants. Sunset and sunrise at this camp are breathtaking. The sun paints the rocks in front of camp a dreamy red-yellow colour with the white ice of the high peaks shining bright. Looking towards the south you may see the little town of Moshi far below. You often sleep above the clouds at Barranco Camp.

Day 4 Morning Report

The cell phone signal is very poor on the mountain but Eric has sent us a brief report: The group members have finished the ascent of Lava Tower (4 630 m) and are on their way down to Barranco Camp (3 950 m). Everyone is fine, all is going well and there are no problems with the altitude.

Day 4 Afternoon Report

Jon reports that it was very cold last night with temperatures plummeting to 0°C. Surprisingly, he managed seven hours sleep. Unpacking and re-packing is an art which needs to be perfected, he says. The group arrived at Barranco Camp at 3.30 pm today after a long day which included some rock climbing. René H  reports that everybody is very tired but well. They all have good appetites and are enjoying the food.

Day 5, Tuesday 30th June 2015
Barranco Camp (3 950 m) to Karanga Camp (4 040 m)
Walking distance: 5.8 km
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 90 m

After breakfast you cross the Great Barranco Wall, topping out at about 4 420 m before dropping to the camp at the Karanga River at about 4040 m. The hike up the Barranco Wall is steep. You pass below the famous Breach Wall, the largest ice and rock face in Africa. The Breach Wall climbing route, known as ‘The Icicle’, was first climbed in the early 1970s by Reinhold Messner. Day time temperatures can reach up to 26C, while evening temperatures often drop below freezing.

Day 5 Report

Eric reports that the group members awoke at 6 this morning to a glorious sunrise. They have now arrived at Karanga Camp (4 040 m) and are having a short rest before doing an afternoon acclimatisation walk. The entire group is fit and strong and coping very well with the altitude. The weather has been fine so far but, after their arrival at camp today, the mist started to come in and it now looks like rain - so the afternoon walk might be shelved. Eric has really enjoyed the spectacular scenery en route.

Jon reports that it was very cold last night and the tents were frozen over this morning. The Barranco wall was heavy going for 250 m but once on top, it was much easier with rolling hills all the way to camp. Dawson and his guides are doing a great job judging the pace of the group.

René H  reports that the ascent up the Barranco Wall this morning took an hour and a half as there was a great deal of traffic (fellow climbers). There was some good rock climbing and scrambling. The group members are getting on very well and are thoroughly enjoying the trip. The younger members spend a great deal of time dipping into their snacks but, to date, have hardly made a dent in their supply. Justin is VERY impressed with the camp food. René A and Ivan are looking after their young charges extremely well. Some of the party have had a headache or two but are absolutely fine now. Pete is enjoying the trip immensely and commented that the group dynamic was great. Paul reports that he is feeling strong and finding the experience exhilarating. His blood oxygen levels look good, he is ready for the last stretch tomorrow morning and is very much looking forward to the summit attempt tomorrow night.

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Barranco Wall
Photo courtesy of

A Party Climbing the Barranco Wall
Photo Courtesy of

Lone Succulent in Rocky Terrain

Dawn on the Kilimanjaro Summit Bid
Photo Courtesy of

Day 6, Wednesday 1st July 2015
Karanga Camp (4 040 m) to Barafu Camp (4 550 m)

Walking distance: 3.5 km
Walking time: 4-5 hours
Altitude gain: 510 m

Today’s path takes you up and across a rocky zone where very little vegetation can be found on the inhospitable terrain. Sedimentary rocks litter the ground. You leave Karanga and hit the junction which connects with the Mweka Trail. Continue up to the Barafu Camp. At this point, you have completed the South Circuit, which offers views of the summit from many different angles. Amazing views of Kilimanjaro’s two peaks, Mawenzi and Kibo, are to be seen from Barafu Camp. An early dinner will be served in order for you to get the maximum rest before the final ascent starting at around midnight.

Day 6 Afternoon Report

René H, Jon and Eric report as follows: The group arrived at Barafu Camp (4 550 m) at 12.30 pm and had a hot lunch. They will rest/sleep until 6 pm when dinner will be served and final preparations made for the summit attempt. After dinner, they will try to get in as much sleep as possible (difficult as all the climbers will doubtlessly be fairly nervous) until 2 am. Tonight's temperatures are expected to drop to -6°C. After a snack and a final check on all the gear, the group will depart for the summit at 3 am, stopping  every hour for a break. Sunrise is at 6.36 am, after which the headlamps can be switched off. It may be necessary, however,  to keep  the waterproofs and down jackets on as rain and snow is forecast for tonight and tomorrow. It is estimated that the group will summit at around 9 or 9.30 am Eastern Africa Time (8 or 8.30 am South African Standard Time). All members of the group are feeling strong and well, and we wish them all the very best for their summit attempt.

Day 7, Thursday 2nd July 2011: Summit Day
Barafu Camp (4 550 m) to Summit via Stella Point (5 752 m); then to Uhuru Peak (5 895 m); descent to Millennium Camp (3 820 m) or to Mweka Camp (3 100 m)

Walking distance: 7 km ascent + 23 km descent
Walking time: 5 to 6 hrs + 1 to 2 hours up, 7 to 8 hours down (the overall walking time may vary between 10 and 16 hours)
Altitude gain: 1 202 m (Stella Point) or 1 345 m (Uhuru Peak)
Descent: 2 795 m Mweka Camp

Wake up very early to have a quick bite to eat and something warm to drink before setting out in darkness. The hike to Stella Point is a very slow, steep walk on volcanic scree for about 5-6 hours. The headlamps on the trail towards the summit almost look like fireflies flying in a long row. As you approach the crater rim you will enjoy the most memorable sunrise you may ever experience – the sunrise over Africa! Often you see the curving of the earth at this high altitude and the sunrise on the horizon just accentuates it. Keep your camera ready at all times as there are plenty of photo opportunities along the summit. Once you reach Stella Point on top of the crater rim, Uhuru Peak is in sight. Hike along fairly flat terrain for about 40-45 min to reach Uhuru Peak. Spend a few minutes at the top and get that photo of you next to the sign marking the summit - definitely one for your collection.

Descend from Uhuru Peak in high spirits as you have just achieved your goal. The trail down from Stella Point on the Mweka route is often enjoyed by hikers sliding down the scree slope, which entails skidding down the loose gravel with big steps and some sideways moves. Try it, it is fun! With every step going down your body enjoys having more oxygen to breathe in. Depending on how you feel, you may enjoy a short rest at Barafu Camp before descending down to Millennium Camp or Mweka Camp. Most of our expeditions overnight at Mweka Camp this evening.

Day 7 Lunch-Time Report

Congratulations to all 11 members of our group who have successfully summited Mount Kilimanjaro (5895 m). This is a huge achievement and we are extremely proud of you all.

René H, Jon and Eric report that the group left Barafu Camp (4 550 m) at 3.15 am this morning and summited at 11.30 am. Contrary to the weather forecast, the weather was beautiful, the skies were clear and the full moon lit up the path all the way. The going was really slow and tough after 5 000 m but the guides were excellent, assisting the whole group to push on to the summit.    A welcome snack was enjoyed at the top and many pictures were taken. These will be included in the Kilimanjaro 2015 Gallery page once the climbers return home. René commented that the glaciers were definitely retreating. Jon found the summit experience absolutely amazing with exquisite views.

The group began their descent to Barafu at 12 noon. They split up into groups of 2 or 3 with the first group arriving after an hour and the last group an hour afterwards. They had a quick bite to eat and then left immediately for Mweka Camp (2 795 m), which is a good 6 hour trip down the mountain. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to include the usual one  hour sleep at Barafu before leaving for Mweka.

Day 7 Evening Report

René H reports that the group arrived at Mweka Camp (2 795 m) at 7 pm after a long, long day. Immediately after supper, they all retired to their tents for a very welcome, and long-awaited, sleep.

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Sunrise Behind Mawenzi Peak (East of Mt Kilimanjaro)

Uhuru Peak
Photo Courtesy of

Mount Kilimanjaro with Crater
Photo courtesy of

Mweka Camp
Photo courtesy of

Day 8, Friday 3rd July 2015
Mweka Camp (3 100 m) to Mweka Gate (1 980 m)

Walking distance: About 15 km
Walking time: 3 to 4 hours
Descent: 1 120m

Enjoy a slow hike through the rainforest to Mweka Gate. It is not a rare sight to spot Black and White Colobus Monkeys in the trees as well as Blue Monkeys. Take time to enjoy the lush vegetation with the Old Man’s Beard (tree moss) growing on the giant trees as well as some Giant Ferns towering high over the forest bed. The path has many steps leading you down to Mweka Gate where you may find a cold beer or soft drink to start celebrating your assault of Kilimanjaro. You will be transferred back to Moshi, Keys Hotel, to overnight and celebrate.

Day 8 Report

René H and Jon report that the group had a muddy trip to Mweka Gate (1 980 m) this morning and arrived at 11 am, tired but in high spirits. Some are even ready for a warm-down run! René H is delighted that everyone in the group made it. After completing the admin to exit the Park, the group will be driven back to Keys Hotel for the presentation of certificates, and for the gratuity handover to the guides and porters.  After this, they are looking forward to a good hotel lunch with one or two beers - and perhaps a swim in the  gorgeous pool. I would say they deserve it! Well done again to all!

Mweka Gate: End of the Road

COET, et al, Kilimanjaro 2015 Team
Front (left to right): Ivan and Amy Suzor, René and Conor Arthur, René Hochreiter, Nelson
Back (left to right): Ian Crowe, Dawson (the Chief Guide), Eric Ford, Jon Dudas, Charles, Pete Crowe, Paul Geldenhuis, Justin Suzor
Photo Courtesy of Jon Dudas

Eric, René H and Jon Outside Keys Hotel at the End of the Expedition
Photo Courtesy of Jon Dudas

Kilimanjaro 2015 SpO2 Measurements

Click here for link to the team's SpO2 measurements (Saturation of Peripheral Oxygen).

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Website designed & updated by Gail Hochreiter
Page updated: 03/08/2015