"A true nuclear explosion in the sky." How to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and at the same time see the most beautiful sunrise in your life

Climbing to the top of Kilimanjaro - you see, it’s more like a “dream of a lifetime” than a goal. But Sasha Kovaleva will definitely not agree with this. Last winter, the girl made an incredibly beautiful and exciting adventure in Tanzania, and all for him - dawn at the highest point in Africa.

" How to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and at the same time see the most beautiful sunrise in your life" src="/assets/images/e723bb9ab9d526a12dea251175dcdda2/d7e0a7c8534510cf7f07140b65b43442.jpg">

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- When I was 12 years old, my parents took me to the track to Annapurna base camp (this is in the Himalayas). Until now, this is one of the most vivid memories in my life. I whined endlessly in the mountains, pretended to be a “miner”, swore that my foot would never step on anything even remotely resembling a hill and accused my parents of dragging me to these galleys by deceit (until the last thought, we were flying sea). And only when I returned home, I realized what an amazing adventure I actually experienced. While classmates spent their vacations in the south on an all-inclusive basis, I climbed to a height of 4,130 meters.

For a 12-year-old child, this is really harsh. I admit, half the buzz was connected with the thought that I did something that no one else did in my environment.

For some time in family travel, we focused on other destinations, but thanks to our parents, this was always something unusual. We went to the track in the lost city of El Mirador, lived with the samburu tribe in Kenya, danced at the Tiji festival in the closed kingdom of Mustang. Yes, there were mountains, but some are small.

In these travels I read literature about mountaineering. When I first read Anatoly Bukreeev's Ascension and John Krakauer's In the Thin Air, I sobbed like a beluga. And although Bukreev’s famous phrase “Mountains are not stadiums where I satisfy my ambitions, they are temples where I practice my religion” is already quite hackneyed, every time I hear it, it takes my breath away.

- I admire all athletes, regardless of sport (both professionals and amateurs). I admire their inhuman diligence and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of victory, if not all, then very, very many.

Sport is first and foremost a dream.

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And so I myself began to think about how to conquer something serious. For a person without any climbing experience, the most obvious choice is Kilimanjaro.

Six different trails lead to the top, and they are all accessible to the beginner. In this case, we are talking about a beginner in mountaineering - to be a physically strong person is necessary by default. Even if you are seriously involved in sports, immediately ascending to the highest point in Africa (5,895 meters), having no experience, is probably not a good idea.

What you need to know if you decide to conquer Kilimanjaro? Even if you are a seasoned traveler and have the perfect skills for orienteering, you won’t be able to climb on your own. In Tanzania, this is simply prohibited by law.

Kilimanjaro is located in the national park, and you must have a guide with you.

We used the services of a local tour operator. There are several options: either you go in a group, or order individual support. We chose the second option. The tour operator takes care of all the logistics.

Your task is to properly collect luggage and, in fact, fly to Tanzania.

The company will provide you with a detailed list of equipment that will be needed in the track. Take care of good thermal underwear in advance. A properly assembled first-aid kit, a supply of energy bars, chocolates and nuts will also brighten up the harsh reality on Kilimanjaro. And do not forget that before going to Tanzania you need to be vaccinated against yellow fever (the vaccination is valid for ten years).

Photo from the archive of Sasha

Having arrived in Tanzania, we stopped for the night in the city of Moshi. On the same day, we met with our main guide, Innocent. He instructed us and inspected all our equipment.

When I proudly laid out in front of him our supercompact, super-warm and much more “super” (according to the advertisement) sleeping bags, he laughed for a long time and even asked for permission to photograph them. In short, unfortunate sleeping bags did not pass the test. Innocent said they use them as liners for normal sleeping bags. Fortunately, it was possible to rent all the necessary equipment at the hotel (I think this is a common practice in hotels at the foot of Kilimanjaro), and we took warm sleeping bags and camel bags.

When planning the ascent, we chose the longest route - the Northern Traverse.

It is designed for nine days. Seven days are spent on acclimatization, on the eighth day you climb to the top, and on the ninth you leave the park. In general, we had no reason to be afraid of the Pitmen, since we constantly go in for sports, and we were already on top. But since the reaction of the body to oxygen starvation is unpredictable, we decided to give ourselves more time to adapt. Another important argument in favor of the "North Traverse" was the fact that this is a relatively new route and it has fewer tourists.

Our ascent was planned for the end of February - just before the start of the rainy season (again, at this time there are fewer people in the park). Although now, probably, I would not advise anyone to take such a risk. Why - I'll tell you a little later.

" How to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and at the same time see the most beautiful sunrise in your life" src="/assets/images/e723bb9ab9d526a12dea251175dcdda2/b89347e0f518a0ca4e6ed683991aab51.jpg">

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So, the first day is three hours by jeep to the L190osho Glades, and then three hours on foot to the first camps. In the first three days you go along with the rest of the groups, so there are a lot of people on the trail. The camp is exclusively tents, there are no houses (on the Marangu trail, for example, there are huts). Our company of three girls was accompanied by ten staff members. Innocent (the main guide) and Charles (his assistant) all the time went with us: one leading, the second closing.

The rest are porters, a cook, a waiter (hello to the colonialists), and so on. Every morning they gathered a camp, managed to overtake us on the way and set up a new camp to our parish. We even had a dry closet with us.

They fed in the track as for slaughter. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, we had 5 o'clock tea.

We often refused dinner, because we simply could not eat so much. The cook, of course, was very upset, but we convinced him that the matter was in us, and not in his culinary talent.

Just in case: it was not some kind of VIP-track, just the locals are really very hospitable, and the managers of local tour operators believe that service is very important for Europeans, and therefore try to "keep the mark".

As I said, the first three days you go with other groups, but then everyone disperses along different paths. We had nights, where besides us there was either no one, or there was one group or two.

Every day we left the camp at about eight in the morning and, as a rule, we finished by two or three in the afternoon. Then rest, walks in the vicinity, free time and sleep.

I repeat: for a physically prepared person this track is not so complicated. There were days when it seemed to me that we were not tired at all. There were days when it was difficult due to weather conditions - snow, rain, dust.

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For six days we "walked" around Kilimanjaro, slowly approaching the top. Since no one had any signs of a miner, we decided to go up a day earlier. The climb itself takes place at night: rise at 23 hours, start at midnight.

We really did not eat, just drank tea with chocolate. The sleepy chef wished us good luck (no 152ain, no gain) and crawled back to his tent to look for dreams.

Honestly, there was no euphoria from the upcoming climb - it was cold and I wanted to go back to the warm sleeping bag. To the top - six hours of travel (road at an angle of 40 degrees). The sooner you leave, the better.

Some people prefer to start later, so that the main part of the path will go through before dawn. But it seems to me that the coolest thing is just to meet the dawn at the top.

It was not easy to go. Despite three layers of clothing on top, two on the bottom, two pairs of socks and two pairs of gloves, I was still cold. We moved very slowly, one after another, literally with our nose in our boots in front of us.

Around darkness, on the right there is a cliff. Every 45 minutes we stopped and drank hot tea. At some point, I completely stopped feeling fingers on my hands and seriously thought about the Tanzanian clinic where I would be amputated. Somewhere at an altitude of 5,400 meters it seemed to me that I was about to faint: my head was spinning and my breathing quickened. I had to make a stop for five minutes, but nothing, lay in the snow in the pose of a dying star, and everything passed.

We moved on.

This nightmare lasted until five in the morning until we arrived at Gilman's Point (5,712 meters). From this point the angle of inclination changes and it becomes much easier to walk. But this did not particularly inspire me; I prayed to myself that the sun would rise soon. Absolute darkness, of course, strongly presses the psyche, and it seems as if there is no end and edge to this rise.

Photo from the archive of Sasha

After Gilman's Point we went to the Kibo crater. Theoretically, the volcano may someday wake up (according to scientists, molten magma is located under the current bottom of the crater at a depth of 400 meters). Not the most promising prospect when you are just on this crater.

But the view is insanely beautiful.

At around 6:30 we finally reached Uhuru peak. I have never seen such a dawn. A real nuclear explosion in the sky. In addition to us, only 20 people managed to rise by this time.

One guy knelt down and made an offer to his girlfriend - effectively, you can’t say anything.

- When you stand at the top of Kilimanjaro, you feel like crying and laughing with delight. Immediately you forget about the cold and fatigue, in your head there is only one thought: "Is it really possible?" You stand and repeat the mantra to yourself: remember this moment, remember every detail, it is not known whether you will experience this feeling again .

At the top we spent no more than 15 minutes. A quick selfie, a last look at the glacier (scientists predict that in the coming decades it, alas, will completely melt) and down.

The descent passes along the opposite slope, but those who are just climbing will go towards you. Going down is always harder than going up.

Two hours later we were in the base camp, where it was already much warmer. After lunch and rest, we hit the road again. On the way back, fatigue covered us headlong.

There was a continuous fog around and we could hardly move our legs, there was not a single thought in our head. And although Innocent promised that we would walk about an hour and a half to our camp, we crawled so slowly that it took about three hours to get to the road.

Photo from the archive of Sasha

Thus, our climb lasted exactly 12 hours.

At noon we were in the last camp. I made coffee, added whiskey there and crawled out into the tent, where I planned to go into a coma until the next morning. Through a dream, I heard a thunderstorm begin, but I didn’t care. Even if I were washed away to Kenya - I just visited the highest point in Africa, and nothing mattered.

The thunderstorm lasted all night, and the peak was covered with snow.

The next day (the very day we were supposed to climb), many groups were forced to cancel the ascent. Of those who took a chance, almost all could not reach. People turned around, not reaching some 200-300 meters to the peak. We learned about this already in Moshi when we returned to the hotel. This was a shock for me, because I did not even imagine that this could happen and that we could not get up.

So I still highly recommend climbing early, and not at the end of February. And lay one day in adverse weather. It's a shame to fly to Africa and not to climb due to external circumstances.

If the vacation allows, after the track you can go on a safari to Tanzania or Kenya, or you can go to the ocean to Mombassa. Africa is an amazing continent, it needs to be explored and studied.

Need to fall in love with him. I was here three times and every time I started to get bored even before leaving. Ernest Hemingway accurately described this feeling: "Now I only wanted one thing: to return to Africa. We have not left here yet, but, waking up at night, I lay there, listened and already yearned for it."

" How to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and at the same time see the most beautiful sunrise in your life" title=""A true nuclear explosion in the sky." How to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro and at the same time see the most beautiful sunrise in your life" src="/assets/images/e723bb9ab9d526a12dea251175dcdda2/efae45bdfceeca053170595c154d65dd.jpg">

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