Kilimanjaro News October-December 2013

Goodbye to the Snows of Kilimanjaro?

Posted December 30 2013.

A depressing story to end 2013, I’m afraid. Scientists have come up with a latest estimate for when the glaciers atop Africa’s highest mountain will disappear – and sadly it’s even sooner than other, earlier predictions.

At the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union, the glaciers, estimates to be about 10,000 years old, will have completely melted away by 2030, according to Pascal Sirguey, a research scientist at the University of Otago in New Zealand.

His estimate is largely based on the fact that the Northern Icefield, the largest mass of ice extant on the mountain, has lost more than 4 million cubic metres since the turn of the millennium. This represents a loss of almost a third of its total volume, a depletion exacerbated by the fact that the mass split into two last year – an event that will only increase the rate of melting on the summit.

What this means, according to Sirguey, is that major glaciers such as the Credner Glacier, on Kili’s north-western slopes, will disappear by 2030 – and the summit could be completely ice free by the mid-2040s.

As yet, there is no conclusive answer as to what is causing the decline, though global warming and the change in weather patterns that leads to less snow falling on the summit is one obvious theory.

Pascal Sirguey’s study was conducted as part of the university’s efforts to accurately map the mountain and build a detailed digital elevation model developed using satellite images. The 3D model they hope to produce in partnership with the Tanzanian government will offer an extraordinary resolution, able to zoom in on geographical and topographical features just half a metre across.

Possible predictor for altitude sickness found?

Posted 21 December 2013

According to various news sources, a possible test to determine whether you are likely to suffer from altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS) is being developed.

As you are probably aware, most people get some form of altitude sickness while on Kilimanjaro, with 1-2% developing the more serious, life-threatening forms of the condition. The symptoms range from nausea, loss of appetite and headaches, which most people get at some point during their ascent of Africa’s highest mountain, but can lead in the most serious cases to breathing difficulties, loss of coherence and confusion, ataxia (loss of balance and control of the limbs) and eventually death. AMS is caused by the rarified atmosphere present at high altitudes and the inability of the body to take in enough oxygen.

There are various things that climbers can do to avoid, or at least delay, its onset, the most important being that you should ascend slowly to give your body time to acclimatise. Drugs such as Diamox have also been proven to work for many people.

However, one of the problems with altitude sickness is that it is so difficult to predict who is going to suffer from it, and who isn’t. A person’s age, gender and fitness level all seem to matter little.

Until now. At a EuroEcho-Imaging Conference in Istanbul, details of an experiment are being presented in which 34 healthy volunteers, some of whom had suffered AMS before, had their cardiovascular function monitored by ultrasound both at sea level and at 3,842m – the altitude at the top of a cable car in the French alps. After four hours at that height the volunteers had both the oxygen saturation in their blood measured (presumably with an oximeter, which are commonly used on Kilimanjaro by guides) and their heart function, using this ultrasound technique. After 24 hours at the altitude, 13 of the 34 had developed some early symptoms of altitude sickness. It just so happened that these people also showed lower oxygen saturation levels according to the oximeter, and most interestingly a poorer function in the systolic (pumping) ability in the right ventricle.

As Dr Rosa Maria Bruno, who led the study, explained, if these sorts of results are replicated in bigger trials, then perhaps we’ll finally have a way of predicting who is likely to struggle with the altitude even before they take their first step on the mountain.

Unfortunately, she also admits that the test is a little cumbersome, for it involves the subject currently being at altitude for at least four hours. However, in time it is hoped that more efficient tests can be introduced until there comes a day when it will be possible to determine who is going to be more susceptible to altitude sickness – and thus provide them with the necessary medication to alleviate the symptoms and even prevent them from developing the condition altogether.

El Al to begin flying to Kilimanjaro Airport in 2014

Posted 10 December 2013

News has reached us that the Israeli National Airline El Al has plans to begin flying from Tel Aviv to Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO) from April next year. The airline hopes to fly once a week during the high season at least, bringing 150 passengers each week to the north of Tanzania and around 6000 per annum.

The airline actually had its maiden voyage between Tel Aviv and JRO last week. Sitting among the journalists and other assorted media folk were ten physically disabled passengers who are aiming to climb Kilimanjaro, while the rest of the manifest went to sample the delights of Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti etc.

Looking at the El Al website we note that they have yet to put up any details of their proposed service; but when they do, we’ll be amongst the first to let you know!

Names of 10,000 Female Kilimanjaro Conquerors Required!

Posted December 8 2013

Are you female? Have you reached the summit of Africa’s highest mountain at some point in your life? If so, then the Ladies Trekking Club is looking for you! Following on from our twitter post on Friday, to mark International Women’s Day on 8 March 2014 the Ladies Trekking Club is planning to design a unique flag bearing all of their names and to take it to the Roof of Africa. Their goal is to include the names of at least 10,000 women on the flag.

The aim of the undertaking is show respect to all women around the world.

If you’d like to have your name included too, simply visit the following webpage: . It’s as simple as that!>

Climb in aid of Open Arms Malawi

Posted 5 December 2013

In February next year Alex Gibson and his daughter Emma, from Yorkshire, UK, will hopefully be hauling their weary selves up to the top of Africa’s highest mountain with us. Nothing unusual in that, of course, nor in the fact that they are raising money for a charity as they go. The charity they are raising funds for, however, Open Arms Malawi, is rather unconventional. It’s an orphanage, but not in the conventional sense of the word. For Open Arms care specifically for babies whose mothers have died in childbirth, and whose extended family, despite their best efforts, found themselves unable to cope with a newborn. As such, Open Arms do not take the baby on permanently, as a regular ‘orphanage’ would, but looks to return the child to the family once he or she has reached two years of age – when hopefully the family finds it a little easier to cope. To ease the burden, the charity also tries to provide support and education in the village where the child lives.

The charity is also fairly close to the Gibson’s hearts as it was set up by a former teacher of Emma’s who founded Open Arms after visiting Malawi on several occasions and seeing a need for an organisation such as theirs.

You can find out more about the charity by visiting the website While to sponsor Alex, just get in touch with us here and we’ll pass on their details. Good luck both of you!

Climb in aid of local Uhuru Primary school

Posted 4 December 2013

This week I received an email rom Gautam Sachania. Gautam, from Denver, Colorado, will be climbing Kilimanjaro in aid of a local school, Uhuru Primary, in Arusha. It’s a school with family connection to Gautam for his father studied there over 60 years ago (when the school was still known as Jacaranda Primary). Gautam is hoping to raise US$5000 for the school to help them to pay for renovations to the building, testing fees, and school supplies such as uniforms, textbooks, paper, pencils, soccer balls, board games, and maintenance equipment for the mentally handicap unit. Indeed, it’s one of the very few schools in East Africa to accept disabled children.

Gautam has made a video ( of his visit to the school which tells you more about what they do and where any money raised will be spent. If you’d like to sponsor Gautam he has set up a webpage where you can donate ( We do o course wish him every success and hope to be able to tell you how he got on after his return – Good Luck Gautam!

Climbing Kili is good for you – fact!

Please see separate page for this topic: Kilimanjaro is good for you

New Book by Female Kili Conquerors!

Posted October 8 2013

Just received an email about a new book on Kilimanjaro. “Dreamers and Doers” is a collection of 53 essays written by women who have climbed to Africa’s highest point.

The authors include:

– Debbie Bachmann, the holder of the record for the fastest ascent by a female;

– Samantha Larson, the youngest person (at her time) to have climbed the Seven Summits;

– Tess Burrows, author of “Cry From The Highest Mountain”, who climbed with our company in 2011;

– Joanne Gambi, who holds the Guiness world recors for the fastest female ascent of the Seven Summits;

– Theresia Ismaili Majuka, reputedly the first Maasai woman to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.

What’s more, eleven of the sixty women who have climbed all seven summits have written essays for the book.

There’s a charitable aspect to the publication too, because for every copy of “Dreamers & Doers” sold, a textbook will be donated to Tanzanian schools through the work of the Impatiens Kilimanjari Foundation (

Unfortunately, one fact that wasn’t included in their lengthy email was an online address where one can purchase the book. However, I found this online, which should suffice until somebody corrects me with a more official address:

Kilimanjaro news January-March 2014 >>