Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 5 Recap: Routes and Success Rates

Route & Difficulty

As more and more people stop to ask me about this years climb, a lot of questions come up about the route we’ll be climbing and the difficulty level. Will it be the same as last year? What is the success rate? Is it dangerous? A lot of great questions…and I’m assuming you might have a few of the same as well. So allow me to answer a few of the most common questions asked.

There are 5 main routes you can use when climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro:

1. Marangu
2. Machame
3. Rongai
4. Lemosho
5. Umbwe

Each route has its own characteristics, positives, and drawbacks. There are few others not mentioned as they are off the beaten path and not generally used.

Of the top five popular routes, the first, Marangu, is also known as the “Coca Cola” route. Heavily travelled, with a history of being able to purchase coca cola along the route, this is an easy trek to the top, but due to the lack of time available to acclimatizing, the success rate isn’t the greatest. The second, Machame, is also very popular thanks to the beautiful forests you get to enjoy and the ability to “climb high and sleep low”, to help with acclimatization. Both routes can take 6-7 days to summit.

The Rongai route is less traveled due to having the least amount of scenery during the trek. It’s also one of the shortest times to the top (about 5-6days). Whereas the Lemosho route, is one of the longest routes to climb (7-8 days), but also offers the best scenery, and greater ability to acclimatize which equals higher success rates. And finally, the Umbwe route, which is extremely difficult due to steepness of the climb. Endurance is a must during this tough 6 day climb.

Lemosho Route highlighted in red

Lemosho Route highlighted in red

In 2013 when I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, I took the Lemosho route, and we will take the same route this year with the team. The scenery is amazing, it allows for some great acclimatization, and the while the first few days are fairly easy and straight forward, it gives you body enough time to prepare for summit night. We’ll climb for 6-8hrs each day for 7 days to reach the summit, and then another 3 days down (Mweka Route down), with the summit night/day taking about 15-18hrs without breaks.

No matter which route you take, the climb will be one of the most physically, mentally, and emotionally experiences you’ll ever have. It’s a fantastic challenge just waiting to be taken!

Success Rates

Mt. Kilimanjaro is relatively safe to climb. Approximately 25,000 – 35,000 people attempt to summit Kilimanjaro each year (unfortunately, approximately 10 people perish on the mountain annually). The summit success rate varies depending on the route you climb and number of days it takes you to reach the summit.

Overall, all climbers and routes have a success rate of 45%. Those who climb the short routes (5 days) have an approximate 30% success rate,  while those climbing the longest routes (7-8 days) have a 70-85% success rate. The reason behind such a large difference in success rates? It all boils down to altitude sickness. Everyone reacts to it differently, and you can only do so much to prepare for it.

When I climbed in 2013 (7 days to summit), we had 25 climbers on the team and two climbers did not reach the summit…so we had a 92% success rate. Most people on the trek experienced some form of altitude sickness (including myself).

How can we prepare for altitude sickness? I’ll talk about that in my blog next week! (Special shout out to a good friend of mine Helena – I’m trying to make sure you read next week too – lol!)

Fundraising

imagesHUGE thank you goes out to the team at Genumark for their generous donation to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! I work with their team on a regular basis and I am extremely thankful for everything they do. You guys are awesome!!

As of today, I’ve hit 68% of my target! I’ve raised $3,765 towards my required $5,500 to participate in the climb. Thank you to everyone who has donated so far! You are all amazing and I thank you VERY MUCH for your support and encouragement! My climbing team has fundraised 31% of our goal so far, or $23,410 towards our $75,000 goal. 🙂 Everyone is doing such an fantastic job!!

Last week I held a fundraising contest. I purchased two $25 Starbucks gift cards to hand out randomly to anyone who donated last week. I’m happy to announce the following winners: Cheryl A. and Alison H.
A special thank you and congrats to both of you. 🙂

Training

In addition to the my average daily walks of about 7K, this week I completed the following:

April 13 – April 19
Monday: Chest & Leg strengthening exercises (1hr)
Tuesday: Back & Arms strengthening exercises (1hr) + 6K outdoor run (35mins)
Wednesday: Core & Leg strengthening exercises (1hr)
Thursday: Back & Shoulder strengthening exercises (1hr)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 7K walk along the Etobicoke Creek Trail
Sunday: Rest

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 9.34.21 PM

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