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Reasons one would not be able to summit Kilimanjaro
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By maKINGwaffles
Jul 7, 2014
I'm really gung ho on planning a trip in September 2015 to summit Kilimanjaro, but have come accross some scary information that there's only a 66% summit success rate. Being one of the easiest of the the 7 summits, I thought this was fairly low. Realizing everybody who heads to Kilimanjaro is gung ho and 100% knows their going to summit, I can imagine not many people would turn around bc the hiking is too difficult, or they are too tired and gave up.

I'm 24 years old and the $5k or more I will spend will take me a LONG time to save up, so if I go I will make sure I'm well conditioned and ready.

So what other than altitude could send somebody down the mountain early?

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By Ryan Nevius
From The Range of Light
Jul 7, 2014
Mt. Agassiz
If you have to ask...you're probably not ready.

Other factors: inexperience, weather, route difficulty.

The success rate varies, based on the route you take. Some routes have a very high success rate.

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By Ryan Williams
Administrator
From London (sort of)
Jul 7, 2014
El Chorro
Even though Kili is an "easy" summit, it is still very high. You've probably never been above 14,000 ft and have no idea how you're body will react at higher altitudes. There is a possibility, no matter how fit you are, that you will not be able to carry on because of altitude.

In my experience, the majority of people that attempt Kilimanjaro are inexperienced and probably not in excellent shape. They have no real experience in the high mountains and have never been above 14000 feet. Taking this into consideration, a 66% success rate is pretty good.

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By Scott McMahon
From Boulder, CO
Jul 7, 2014
Bocan
I saw a video where things like extreme mud and weather conditions kept the party from success. That's just one example of course

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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Jul 7, 2014
Living the High Life.
Have you ever gone for a hike and not made your destination? Maybe it started raining, or someone in your group got blisters, or you got tired, or...

Some people who are already in east Africa try the mountain who do not know what they are getting into. Some Tanzanian guide services take people up too quick and dont feed them enough. Some people don't drink enough water or get a stomach bug. Some get blisters. We had three in my group who turned around because of nausea. The reasons people don't make the top, just as on any mountain, are endless.

Save the money and go. Anyone who climbs long enough understands you might spend thousands and not make it. Such is life.

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By Chris Massey
Jul 7, 2014
Diamox.

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By maKINGwaffles
Jul 7, 2014
Ryan Nevius wrote:
If you have to ask...you're probably not ready. Other factors: inexperience, weather, route difficulty. The success rate varies, based on the route you take. Some routes have a very high success rate.


I'm in no way claiming to be ready. I hiked an 80 mile trek in Philmont years back, and although not the same as Kilimanjaro, I am somewhat accustomed to conditioning techniques and mental conditioning on being in the mountains for 8 days at a time. I'm already in good athletic condition and live near the Appalachian mountains, so finding great mountains to climb for preparation will be no issue.

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By SinRopa
From parts unknown
Jul 7, 2014
66% sounds low to me too. I did it about 9 years ago (when I was 24) and our entire big group made it up, and we had people over 60 years old who weren't athletes by any stretch of the imagination.

You obviously can't control the weather or how you'll react at altitude, but if you're in good athletic condition and err on the side of a conservative rate of ascent, I'd give you way better odds than 66%.

It's a fun trip, do it.

EDIT: I found a travel guide with the following info...see above about a conservative rate of ascent:

"The 'rule of thumb' for chances of success based on climbing days is as follows; 5-days 50%, 6-days 60%, 7-days 70%, 8-days 80% and 9-day 90% success rate."

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By Adam McFarren
From Boulder, Colorado
Jul 7, 2014
I did Kili 2 years ago. My best advice is to spend a little more money on one of the longer ascent routes (7-8 days instead of 4-5). Bring your own quality sleeping pad (unless you're positive the service you book through provides thick air mattresses). If you can climb some higher peaks in the meantime to experience altitude do so (whether that's 14'ers in CO/CA/WA or making a trip to Mexico for the 17-18,000 ft peaks). Doing well at those altitudes won't ensure a successful trip to Kili but could help you know how your body generally handles altitude.

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By maKINGwaffles
Jul 7, 2014
Adam McFarren wrote:
I did Kili 2 years ago. My best advice is to spend a little more money on one of the longer ascent routes (7-8 days instead of 4-5). Bring your own quality sleeping pad (unless you're positive the service you book through provides thick air mattresses). If you can climb some higher peaks in the meantime to experience altitude do so (whether that's 14'ers in CO/CA/WA or making a trip to Mexico for the 17-18,000 ft peaks). Doing well at those altitudes won't ensure a successful trip to Kili but could help you know how your body generally handles altitude.


Yes, unfortunately the altitude is something I will have trouble adjusting to or preparing for. The highest peak east of the Mississipi River is Mount Mitchell at barely above 6000'. Which of the 14ers would you suggest to help prepare me? Mt Elbert?

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By Loren Tragen
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 7, 2014
Nameless boulder on the edge of the Holy Boulders ...
See the above post that shows the greater success rates for longer trips. Those extra few days make all the difference when acclimatizing. Altitude affects people in different ways. The last day is the hardest and longest of all the days, and the guides get you up to start hiking very early in the morning. So you're tired, you might have a pounding headache from altitude, your muscles are sore and you feel starved of oxygen. Some people reach a certain point of exhaustion/discomfort and tell themselves that the benefit they would gain from reaching the top isn't worth it. Now, of course these people regret it when they descend and realize that it was just a head game and that they physically could have made it, but it's too late at that point. If you go in the proper season, then weather should allow you to summit. And, barring any severe altitude symptoms (pulmonary or cerebral edema) or broken/sprained leg or other freak accident, you can make it if you are in good shape and keep your eyes on the prize. I'm excited about my October 2014 trip. Try to get in as many high altitude hikes as possible before your trip.

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By Loren Tragen
From Flagstaff, AZ
Jul 7, 2014
Nameless boulder on the edge of the Holy Boulders ...
Mt Grays and Torreys are two attached 14ers that you can do easily enough from a flight into Denver, but consider staying in a town in the mountains if you want to make the most of your trip. If you want to spend several easy hours at altitude, consider a drive up Mt Evans also.

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By Jason Halladay
Administrator
From Los Alamos, NM
Jul 7, 2014
Climbing at the Belvedere crag near Nago with a gr...
I'd assume it's the altitude turning most would-be summiteers away. As others have suggested, consider a route/itinerary that has you ascending more slowly and spending more days on the mountain. A decade ago I organized a group of eight of us to climb the Machame route, a route that traverses the mountain at a relatively high elevation before going up to the summit, and all eight of us reached the summit. According to this page, the success rate on the Rongai, Machame, and Lemosho routes is approximately 95%

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Jul 7, 2014
Outdid myself here
I think the fundamental issue here, is that your trip is just a bad idea. I apologize if this is at all patronizing. But if you're coming onto this forum to ask a question as broad as "what would keep me from the summit" you obviously lack even basic mountaineering skills. Whith is fine, no one came out of the womb knowing how to hold an ice axe. But given your lack of experience, you'll invariably find yourself being dragged up the mountain by your expedition company. They'll dictate your every decision. And take the adventure out of it for you.

On the other hand, with $5,000 you could spend the next few years traveling around the US and Mexico learning the skills you would need to come to the trip as someone with a full mountaineering skill set and knowledge of your own abilities/limitations.

Start small. Fly to Denver and spend a week knocking off a few 14'ers in the Summer. Then go to New Hampshire and hire a guide to take you up Mountain Washington (yes, sometimes guides can help speed up your learning, but one for Mt. Washington is a hell of a lot less pricey than for one of the seven summits). From there you could go to Mexico and climb one of the Volcanoes, or even Dissapointment Cleaver on Mt. Rainier.

By the time the $5k runs out. Not only will you have an impressive list of bad ass summits under your belt. But you will have also gained the knowledge and experience to take a real ownership of your trip, and be able to decide for yourself what your chances of success are.

At 24 years old, there's no rush to get Kilimanjaro done. You have the rest of your life ahead of you. There's no reason to purchase a fast pass to the top when it's the very process of learning new skills and improving the ones we already have that makes being in the mountains so special.

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By The Blueprint Part Dank
From FEMA Region VIII
Jul 7, 2014
Outdid myself here
To clarify, I'm aware that Regulations stipulate all climbing parties must hire a guide. My point is that just because you have to have a guide, you don't have to be "guided" in every aspect of your ascent,

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By Mark Lewis
From Salt Lake City, Utah
Jul 7, 2014
I really don't see any issue with the OP's question. It never hurts to gather as much info as you can from as many sources as possible. Get out there and have a great life adventure!

Whether you summit or not...you won't regret your decision to make the attempt and spend the money.

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By Andy Novak
From Golden, Co
Jul 8, 2014
Living the High Life.
The Blueprint Part Dank wrote:
if you're coming onto this forum to ask a question as broad as "what would keep me from the summit" you obviously lack even basic mountaineering skills. But given your lack of experience, you'll invariably find yourself being dragged up the mountain by your expedition company.


Good grief. That is quite a presumption. Blueprint, how many times have you been to Kilimanjaro and what routes have you been on?

The 4 standard routes up Kilimanjaro require absolutely zero mountaineering experience. If you can hike 10 miles a day for 4-5 days in a row and can handle the altitude for just 24-36 hours, your chances are good. Simply traveling to east Africa, summit or not, is an experience you will never forget. Its spectacular.

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By Anfarwal
From Denver, CO
Jul 8, 2014
Approach to Whitney
Jason Halladay wrote:
I'd assume it's the altitude turning most would-be summiteers away. As others have suggested, consider a route/itinerary that has you ascending more slowly and spending more days on the mountain. A decade ago I organized a group of eight of us to climb the Machame route, a route that traverses the mountain at a relatively high elevation before going up to the summit, and all eight of us reached the summit. According to this page, the success rate on the Rongai, Machame, and Lemosho routes is approximately 95%


I agree-- I did Kili 2 years ago; we took the Shira Plateau/Western breach route (less crowds, longer acclimatization since it was a week long), which is reportedly the 'hardest' route on the mountain since it has some class 3/4 on it. My friend had no mountaineering experience whatsoever and barely hikes. It's a 7 day route. Our entire party made it, including an 11 year old boy. Don't get me wrong, you'll feel terrible at above 18000 ft, but if you are reasonably fit, you can do it. Take this caveat though: no one knows how they'll really do at altitude, and it's different every time. So even if you hike 14ers and try to acclimatize, you still might get sick. A good guide service will have recommendations for treating your altitude sickness, and they should carry a ganow bag/oxygen with them.

Personally, I would go into it with the attitude that you're paying for the experience, and the summit is the bonus. You'll go through 5 types of natural zones from forest to alpine desert, and you'll get to see a glacier that probably won't be there in 20 years.

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By Bobby Hutton
From Tanzania
Jul 8, 2014
Fisheyed fool 10b foster falls
I agree with The Blueprint Part Dank. You could use the $5000 in the U.S. to rack up an impressive amount of summits and save Kili until you are older. I am living about an hour and a half from Kili right now and many of the people I see going to climb Kili are hardly athletic. Apart from Kili being one of the seven summits I don't really see the draw. It is a big tourist trap that everyone and there grandmother has done. There are three or four other peaks in the same area that are over 14,000 that will give you a more authentic mountain experience i.e. no crowds, no high way like paths and that don't cost several grand in park and guiding fees. Just my two cents, take it or leave it.

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By marty funkhouser
Jul 8, 2014
Reasons you might not summit:

10. Stuck in basecamp discussing the merits of capris vs booty shorts (as mens wear)
9. While in Africa you're accidentially adopted by Brad & Angelina
8. You drop everything & head home when you learn Hootie and the Blowfish are planning a reunion tour
7. You're required to stay home for your Uncle Bernie's funeral, who has been dead for weeks but everyone was tricked into thinking he was still alive by his zany coworkers who wanted to party at his beach house
6. You are murdered in your sleep for humming Its a Small World while hiking one too many times
5. You fall into a deep depression and can't continue when you learn that Jared of Subway fame has packed back on the lbs
4. You don't leave for fear of missing a limited time return of the McRib while abroad
3. You miss your summit window when you stay up all night reading the latest issue of Teen Beat
2. You quit because you can't stay current with the latest Dancing with the Stars
1. Your guide refuses to accept Bitcoins

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By Bobby Hutton
From Tanzania
Jul 8, 2014
Fisheyed fool 10b foster falls
+1
When I saw the title I thought it was a joke as well. I didn't want to be the first one to go there though.

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