Karen and Bryan stand on Kibo and look toward Mawenzi. Kibo is the centerpoint of the Kilimanjaro massif and the highest peak in Africa (19,341 ft), Mawenzi, just six kilometers away is the third highest on the continent (16,893 ft). While similar dynamics created both, the two are a study in opposites (you really should read our stories here and here). Kibo rises gently to a circular flat top. Mawenzi soars abruptly and is topped by a series of crumbling pinnacles. While thousands of trekkers have a go at Kibo every year, Mawenzi is attempted by only a few technical climbers. In fact, numerous fatalities on Mawenzi have prompted authorities to close the mountain periodically.
The story of two fatalities sends shivers up the spine. It is told by John Reader in his book Kilimanjaro and repeated in many places.* After reaching the summit of Mawenzi successfully, two climbers attempted a new route down the mountain. One detached himself from the rope and fell to his death. The second, continuing, also fell and died, but because the rope snagged on an overhang, his body was left dangling midair. When the would-be rescuers found the cliff too dangerous to climb, they resorted to a rife. The dead climber was brought down by a marksmen who managed to sever the rope with a bullet.
* I read it on pages 100-101 in Alex Stewart’s Kilimanjaro: Ascent Preparations, Practicalities, and Trekking Routes to the ‘Roof of Africa’ (Cumbria: Cicerone, 2018).
If you are a pastor, church leader, or educator who is interested in leading a trip to the lands of the Bible, let me hear from you. I partner with faith-based groups to craft and deliver outdoor academic experiences. Leaders receive the same perks that other agencies offer, at competitive prices, and without the self-serving interests that often derail pilgrim priorities.
See here for a list of future trips. I promise we will stay off of Mawenzi.