The Western Breach Grade

Grade: Hardcore

Don't take any notice of people who tell you that Kilimanjaro is 'just a walk'. It isn't. Pretty much everyone, from beginners to seasoned alpinists, find the final approach to Uhuru Peak tough going. It's high, it's cold, there isn't much oxygene about and it's a long slog from the highest camp...climbing the Western Breach is an exceptionally strenuous, balls-out mountain climbing expedition.

A high level of cardio-vascular fitness and physical and mental toughness will be required to climb the Western Breach on Kilimanjaro, his will usually involve a programme of hard training prior to departure; running/ cycling, hill walking and gym work.

Whatsmore, you'll need to have some prior-experience of mountain scrambling and high altitude to comfortably climb some of the tricker sections of the steep final approach to the summit.

A good sense of humour is also useful, particularly when it comes to the the pre-summit ritual (a sleepless night in sub-zero temperatures, followed by a 4am alarm call and a tepid mug of coffee before setting off to the top!).  

What to expect

  • The climb to Uhuru Peak from the highest camp involves a long, tough slog and over 1000 meters of vertical ascent followed by long descent back down the mountain. It'll take 12 to 14 hrs tent-to-tent.
  • Whilst much of the terrain is over easy angled rock and scree, there are some steep and exposed sections of scrambling well above the 5000m mark. You need to be comfortable on this kind of terrain.  
  • Expect to experience some of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness such as headaches and disturbed sleep.
  • With high altitude comes extreme weather and conditions. An excellent sleeping bag and good quality clothing will be required to deal with temperatures that can fall as low as minus 10c at night.
  • Porters will carry equipment and provisions most of the time, and you will usually carry a rucksack which is no more than 5KGs in weight.