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Mawenzi, Kilimanjaro’s second summit, reopens to climbers

Trekkers on the Crater rim with glaciers and Mawenzi in the background

Mawenzi Peak, Kilimanjaro’s second summit, opens to climbers once more

After more than a decade, the authorities have decided to allow climbers back onto Kili’s hazardous Mawenzi Peak.

The peak sits to the east of the main Kilimanjaro’s main summit, known as Kibo. Between them lies the high alpine desert known as the Saddle.  

At 5149m, Mawenzi is the third highest summit in Africa, with Mount Kenya in second place at 5199m and Kilimanjaro’s Kibo summit in first (5895m). However, while shorter, it’s also considerably more dangerous to climb. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1912 that Edward Oehler and Fritz Klute became the first to reach the summit. That’s 23 years later than its bigger neighbour. 

Indeed, early in the twenty-first century the park authorities, KINAPA, banned mountaineering on Mawenzi. This was due to the sheer number of fatalities. Most famously, John Reader, in his excellent book on the mountain, recounted an episode where one unfortunate climber died climbing Mawenzi. Nothing unusual there, of course; like we say, Mawenzi is a dangerous mountain. What is unusual is that nobody could get his corpse down. As a result, he was then left swinging for several days by a rope. No other climber was available or brave enough to climb up and bring the corpse down.  So they hired a marksman to shoot at and sever the rope by gunshot.

Despite the inherent dangers there has always been a demand for the authorities to open the peak up again to climbers. As a result, recently a reconnaissance was done to try to find a safer route from Mawenzi Hut.

Those who want to tackle the peak have to have the necessary qualifications, and are obliged to part with US$750 on top of the regular park fees.

Update 2021

A couple of climbers contacted us recently. They were looking to climb both Mawenzi as well as Kibo on the same trip. They wanted us at Kilimanjaro Experts to organise the climb to Uhuru Peak, but were looking for a specialist local company to climb Mawenzi. I have to admit to them that I didn’t know of any Tanzanian outfits that organised climbs up Mawenzi. And after doing some thorough research, I have still drawn a blank. I am not saying that there aren’t companies that can organise such a climb. But at the present time none seemed to be operating. Maybe this was due to COVID. Or maybe it was due to the fact that attempting to summit Mawenzi is an inherently risky operation. But for whatever reason, at the moment it is incredibly difficult to arrange such a climb.

If I do find an outfit that advertises these climbs, we will of course keep you posted.

 

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