Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is one of those bucket list achievements that anyone with an outdoor bent should consider. Kili is a great mountain for older climbers because, taken slowly, there are no significantly difficult features to overcome and no technical climbing required. The topography of Mount Kilimanjaro is relatively simple. It is a volcanic cone the rises out of the surrounding Masai Steppe at an extremely modest elevation. The first phase is forested, which makes for a very pleasant introduction, followed by the heather belt, which is a little more uniform, but with the advantage of more generous views. As the climb continues the landscape becomes more barren, but no less interesting, and of course the higher the mountain you climb the more impressive the views.
Route Options for Kilimanjaro
There are several route options – Lemosho Route, Marangu Route, Rongai Route and Machame Route, each with its own characteristics. Our recommended route for older climbers of Mount Kilimanjaro is Lemosho Route, it is the longest and most scenically diverse which suits older climber for two reasons – there is more of ecological interest to see, and the the period allowed for acclimatisation is greater. The last point, of course, is the most important. For us of the baby boomer generation, the key to a successful summit is to allow as much time as possible for adaption to high altitude.
Altitude Consideration on Kili
At 19300ft Kilimanjaro is a high mountain by any standards, and no matter how experienced a climber you are, you will feel it. Drugs like diamox help a lot, and are essential unless you have a point to prove, but nothing beats a slow, measured pace. The key to a slow measured pace, of course, is to not be hurried, and this is why we are aiming our trips at older climbers. There will be no young adventurers in the group to unreasonably drive the pace, and no younger guides to do the same. We offer an eight-day minimum which means six days on the ascent and two – three if necessary, on the decent.
Kilimanjaro Summit Approaches
The summit of Mount Kilimanjaro can be approached in two ways. Via the Western Breach, which, despite what many say, and the mythology of climbing Kilimanjaro, is not the most difficult climb. There are one or two inherent dangers, falling rocks principal among these, but the risk is slight. It is a daytime climb, temperatures are higher, and the strp structure of the rock makes the one foot in front of the other principal easier. The downside is that a night needs to be spent at high altitude which is never easy.
The more orthodox route is via Barafu Camp and a midnight ascent. This is usually undertaken over a soft scree at freezing temperatures with a view to reaching the summit at dawn. Thereafter it is a fast decent to lower altitude which is always a relief.
Which is easier is always a matter of opinion, but either way the last push is the hardest, and it is as much as anything the mental conditioning that you have generate din the days and hours prior to this that will get you over the hump.
Once again the key to a successful summit of Mount Kilimanjaro for older climbers is pace. A slow pace among like minded climbers is the optimum way to both enjoy and succeed. If you would like to know more about Eco-Travel Africa Over Fifty Kilimanjaro Climbs, contact us today or fill in the contact form below and we will be in touch immediately with more details.