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© 2016 by On Track Expeditions Pty Ltd

Beyond Stella Point – Summiting Mt Kilimanjaro

Updated: Jan 18

Stella Point stands at 5,736m and is 350m off the top of the world's highest free-standing mountain, Mt Kilimanjaro.

For many however, Stella Point is where their journey ends. This is hugely unfortunate as the summit is less than an hour away and you have already done most of the hard work. To ensure you reach the summit, the key is preparation and training.

Having led expeditions to the summit of Kilimanjaro and around the world since 2010, we have seen first hand what it takes to be successful.

The hike to reach Stella Point is a long, hard but achievable night walk along the Machame route. Leaving Barafu Camp at 11:00pm isn’t too hard as you will have rested most of the day, but the next 5 to 6 hours will really push your group's ability.

Walking through the night above 5,000m is not easy on any mountain but there are many factors that make this summit achievable.

Training for Kilimanjaro

Not just physical but also mental. The great thing about training for these kinds of summit attempts is that your physical training will also aid your mental preparation. The hours in the gym strengthening your legs and training walks all combine to build the confidence you need in body and mind.

Creating small goals during your training and then on the mountain helps to accomplish your ultimate goal – to summit.

Little by little and step by step you inch closer to the peak and each time you rest for a drink or a snack, you reset, recalibrate and go again. It takes patience, rhythm and trust in your body that you can and will reach the top.

On Track Expeditions regularly run training hikes in Australia's capital cities to help you achieve your training goals.

Kilimanjaro Equipment

It goes without saying that the right gear for the job makes the goal achievable. Climbing Kilimanjaro is no exception to this rule. Overnight and summit temperatures can drop to -30 degrees celsius, so it is imperative that you have what you need to endure this harsh but rewarding environment. Check your gear before leaving Australia and ask people who do this regularly or have summited before – “Is this appropriate?”

Being warm, comfortable and content in your clothing and equipment will instil the confidence you need to make the summit.

Check out On Track's top packing tips here.

Altitude sickness

Altitude sickness can be the biggest reason why people don't reach the summit.

Australia is flat and finding the opportunity to train for prolonged days at high altitude can be hard, especially if this is your first or second time up high. Consult your GP before you leave and when on the mountain stay well hydrated, rest as much as possible at night and eat well. These things will assist, but remember altitude sickness affects everyone differently so knowing your triggers and taking your time is key.

You are not running a race but walking a mountain marathon.

Mountain Knowledge

Do your research! Not just on social media, but from people who guide these trips, others who have done the summit a number of times via different routes and people who have attempted but not made it.

Everyone has a story and advice on how to make a successful summit, so use some of this knowledge to educate yourself on the challenge ahead. Exercise physiologist Megan Jepson recently hiked Kilimanjaro with us and shared her top tips for reaching the summit.

Before an exam we study, climbing mountains is no different. To succeed we must research our goal to understand the challenges.

At Stella Point you know that the summit is just under an hour away and this is where all your training and preparation comes into play. By this stage you are tired and feeling the effects of the high altitude. Your mountain guide will check in on you, make sure you are ready for the final push and then it’s the last grind up.

This is why you can do it, because you've prepared! Training, planning, researching and packing appropriately gives you the best opportunity of making the amazing summit that is Uhuru Peak at 5,895m – The Rooftop of Africa!

Preparing to climb Kili, what questions do you have? Have you reached the summit, what are your tips? Add your questions and tips to the comments below.

Looking to make a Mt Kilimanjaro trek your next adventure? Book your spot with On Track now!