The author arranged a small expedition to Tanzania in 1996/97. First there was a safari to the Serengeti and the other northern Tanzanian national parks and an ascent of the Meru (4562 m, once a higher volcano than the Kibo) for acclimatization. Then
we drove with jeeps to Simba Camp (3520 m) on the Shira route.
From there, the southern slope of Kilimanjaro was traversed as a trek at an altitude of about 4500 m from west to east. On the Mweka route, the ascent to the crater rim at Stella Point and on to Uhuru took place. The return march was via Gillmans Point and the Marangu route. The trek lasted 10 days.
Here is an excerpt from our diary:
Barafu Hut, 4600 m: At 6 p.m., at 0 °C, we were already in the tents between the scree on the narrow rock ridge. The summit storm should begin at midnight! However, because of the excitement, we couldn’t find the right calm. In addition, the storm drove the dust through the double tent wall. At midnight our mountain guide brought warm tea and cookies. With clammy fingers
(-5 °C) we got ready to march and stowed the rest of the equipment in the pack sacks that the porters were supposed to bring to the Kibo Hut. We set off at 1 a.m. dressed appropriately and warmly, headlamp, gaiters, sticks. 1300 meters were between us and the summit! The mountain guide and his assistant (also a cook) accompanied us. The latter immediately got my backpack, which also contained the camera and the spare batteries, packed frost-proof. The moon was still full. But the pale light was not enough to orient oneself on the dark volcanic rock. The climb took a lot of strength. Breathing became harder and harder and the pace slowed. The critical point came after about two thirds of the difference in altitude had been overcome. Two, probably three, participants had physical or circulatory problems. I said: We can stop here. But please try, as far as possible under these circumstances, to correctly assess your condition. It’s a long way back. The cold won’t let up for now. The tents are still in the wind on the ridge. If you keep walking, there is a real chance of reaching the crater rim. Then we can turn right to Gillmans Point and would have reached our destination, since the crater rim is considered a summit. To the left, to the Uhuru, we don’t necessarily have to! Long silence. Then we can turn right to Gillmans Point and would have reached our destination, since the crater rim is considered a summit. To the left, to the Uhuru, we don’t necessarily have to! Long silence. Then we can turn right to Gillmans Point and would have reached our destination, since the crater rim is considered a summit. To the left, to the Uhuru, we don’t necessarily have to! Long silence.
We kept going; very slowly, often only two steps, but determined.
At 6:15 a.m., the sun emerged from behind the jagged crown of Mawenzi. Everything looked very different now. We were right under the Rebmann glacier at 5420 m above sea level. The rim of the crater was already clearly visible. I, on principle always last, suddenly went ahead. I reached the crater rim first; indefinable inner forces had driven me. It was 7.15 a.m. Stella Point, 5758 m (Fig. 5).
When everyone was there, something was eaten and drunk.
Since, according to my previous words, everyone should now decide for themselves, I started moving again without a word, like a motor.
At 8:10 a.m. I stood on the Uhuru, the freedom summit, 5895 m (December 26th, 1996). It was a flat dome made of slag and pumice stone that doesn’t really deserve the term “summit”.
Approx. 300 m to the southwest the glaciers began with a 30 m high ice front, which we have always observed from below; They no longer have any nutrient areas (Fig. 13). The rim of the crater was almost without snow. Also inside the crater, the diameter of which is 2 km, there were only partially thin snow fields and small glaciers. The younger ejection cone that MEYER described could not be seen from here (Fig. 14). From the northern edge of the mighty Ringgebirge the ice descends in stages into the crater, forming high melting fronts. So the glaciers are also dissolving there. There are already fears that Kilimanjaro, which comprises 20% of Africa’s natural ice, could be without ice in 40 years. In the west, the crater has a huge gap, where glaciers emerge and the meltwater flows away (Fig. 5).
So now I was at the highest point of my life so far. My wife came second to the summit. In memory of the great ancestor and his ceremony, we hoisted our flag, which had already flown on Kazbek, Elbrus and Kala Pattar (all over five thousand meters high). We were all gathered by 8.45 a.m. Now the souvenir photo was taken and our travel list, completed with the dates of the event, was placed in the summit box (Fig. 15) ”.
Then, everyone was busy with himself and more jogging than walking, the march back (Fig. 4).