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7 summits and other mountain stuff => General => Topic started by: Cy Kaicener on Jan 6 2006, 05:44

Title: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Cy Kaicener on Jan 6 2006, 05:44
Climbers have been killed on the Western Breach of Kilimanjaro by rockfall.
http://www.thedenverchannel.com/health/5860993/detail.html
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: MoT on Jan 6 2006, 17:08
 :-\ Damn it, that's bad news indeed, kind of puts most of our everyday troubles into perspective.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: jedi-knight on Jan 6 2006, 19:57
:-\ Damn it, that's bad news indeed, kind of puts most of our everyday troubles into perspective.

not just bad news...i think its also bad luck.....just their luck to have the rocks tumbling down when they were sleeping in their tents.....
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: walktheearth on Jan 7 2006, 23:21
The Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) has closed the WB route as of January 5, 2006 until further notice.

This is a huge bummer as I was planning to do this route this year.  I thought that they would prohibit utilizing Arrow Glacier as a campsite, not close the route.

Is it possible to explore the crater and glacier without using the WB?  That's supposed to be the best part of the mountain.  It would suck if those sites became unaccessible to climbers.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: wilddog on Jan 8 2006, 09:03
The Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) has closed the WB route as of January 5, 2006 until further notice.

This is a huge bummer as I was planning to do this route this year.  I thought that they would prohibit utilizing Arrow Glacier as a campsite, not close the route.

Is it possible to explore the crater and glacier without using the WB?  That's supposed to be the best part of the mountain.  It would suck if those sites became unaccessible to climbers.

There's a path from Stellar Point that leads to the crater and it takes around 2 to 3 hours to explore the Ash Pit and the glaciers there. However after several hours of hard walking from Barafu/Kibo Hut, I am not sure if you'd want to do that..
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: BMunson on Jan 9 2006, 02:30
 :-\I have gone up twice..WB both times and Arrow (besides Crater Camp) was my very favorite site.  I can see how it could be dangerous.  Apparently there have been slides there before, but not for a while.  You can go to the crater and ash pit going from Stella, but I think the problem is how long your day would be.  From Arrow to Crater Camp was only 6 hours...nap...go to the ash pit and then spend the night.  Up to Uhuru in the morning and then down.  Going through Stella would make it an incredibly long day.  The climb from the crater up to the ashpit, is almost like going from the crater to Uhuru....I don't know how many people would be able to do that much exertion at altitude for as many hours as it would require from morning start to night camp.  Condolences to those families whose members died on the mountain and to the porters who were badly injured!
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: ClimbHigh on Jan 9 2006, 10:56
Not to be inconsiderate but I don't think they should close down the western breach.  Or they should assess the problem and then reopen it as soon as possible.  While it is a tragedy it is the risk we all take as climbers.  I climbed Kili in July via the western breach and it is by far the best route.  I hope this doesn't close down the western breach for too long. 
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: walktheearth on Jan 9 2006, 20:12
I'm hoping once they figure out why the rockfall happened and given a few months, if it doesn't occur again, that they will reopen at least the WB route by august (and possibly keep arrow glacier as a campsite closed).  I'll probably still do the mountain regardless, but I won't be as happy about it.

Is it possible to ascend from Barafu, summit, hike the ash pit, then descend to Barafu again in a day?  By descending to Barafu instead of Mweka camp, can you buy enough time to do the ash pit hike?  Or would the ash pit hike after summitting be too physically demanding to accomplish anyhow?

Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: bmunson on Jan 10 2006, 06:24
I am leaving for TZ in a week to work at a hospital for a few weeks.  I won't be going on Kili while there this time, but will be having dinner with the mountain team from Kiliwarriors that I went up with in July 05.  I know there was a porter/guide  who lost his leg in the Arrow Accident.  I will get more information from them while I am there.  it sure is frustrating not being able to find more information on the conditions at Arrow nor who was injured and the plans for the route. I am sure some of you know how to find out more local news but I don't seem able to find out more.  You could certainly ask a company that you were planning to climb with what the situation is now.

I would think if you were in good shape and feeling well at altitude, you could go from Barafu to to ash pit and down to Barafu for the night.  You could work this out with your company....see what they think.  You cannot ever be guaranteed to get to the ash pit.  Sometimes the sulphur fumes are too bad and even if you went up the WB, you cannot go there.

Good luck
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Roger on Jan 11 2006, 03:32
Account of incident by US survivor

http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=104&sid=667823

Cheers
Roger
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: bmunson on Jan 11 2006, 05:35
Eben was in Arusha and has posted this report on FS Kiliwarrior website.
http://www.go-kili.com
He said the WB is open again.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: walktheearth on Jan 11 2006, 10:16
That was quick.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: bmunson on Jan 11 2006, 21:34
I have been in contact with KPAP in Moshi and they told me that in addition to the clients, 5 porters were killed in the rockslide that was below the lunch spot.  She said that even the local news hasn't reported about the porters. They must think they couldn't keep the client news quiet but they are keeping the porter news quiet, it seems.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Roy Nirschel on Jan 24 2006, 08:23
I just returned from summiting Kilimanjaro and was in Moshi - scheduled to do the W Breach when the news arrived about the tragedy.

Here is what I know -
1. the firms were Zara and another local firm with sketchy records and poor reputations locally.
2. the WB was closed for a week and some outfitters will take you up but you need to sign a waiver
3. I went a modified route - Lemosho gate to Shira, Barrancho Hut (the Barranco Wall and Lava Tower were tough), Karanga Valley, Barafu and a long day to Stella Point and Glacier Camp.  Overnighted  - after seeing the Ash Pit - and a summit at 6 AM on a perfect, but snowy climb to Uhuru Peak - followed by 2 days down.
4. Went with Tusker which had medical support, costly but WELL worth it.

There are no easy days but to travel 5 climate zones and test yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually for the climb was unbelievable.

Good luck to all and im memoriam we climb for those who died.

PS
Word is 10 porters injured, one lost his leg, but no deaths.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Tatro43 on Jan 25 2006, 09:05
Roy,

In your post, I had a question.....The firms that were sketchy was unclear....

Was both Zara and the local firm sketchy, or just the local firm?

Thanks

Chris

Just curious, because I just booked with EWP, which uses Zara for local logistics.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: MoT on Jan 25 2006, 19:46
I thought Zara was one of the good ones  ???
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: jedi-knight on Jan 25 2006, 20:24
I thought Zara was one of the good ones  ???

I thought Zara was one of the good ones too.....but there's something I dont understand here. What has the reputation of the firms got to do with the accident??  ???

Accidents can happen to anyone......no matter how good the guide or the climber. Its the mountain man....if it wants to take your life, it will.....all we can do is to thank it after a successful summit and descent.  8)
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Jaq on Jan 27 2006, 12:38
So the Western Breach is closed indefinitely?

I have booked a climb on 18 Dec 2006 but my tour operator has not yet provided any information about the closure!
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Phil Jones on Jan 27 2006, 16:51
I went with Tusker shortly after Roy came down (few posts back - Hi Roy, me and the two Americans Paul and Janene all made it to the summit).
One of our guides was on the mountain when the rockfall happened and went over to help the injured. He told us that one porter had died and that several had been taken to hospital with broken legs. I hope thats all there was - it's very worrying to see the post that 5 porters died. I am still in Moshi and will try to find out more.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: 7summits on Jan 29 2006, 00:17
Zara is not 'one of the good ones', it is the best one. I trust all my clients with them as I knwo they take good care of them and they execute all my custommade itineraries exactly as I ask them to, creating very satisfied customers, who are extremely happy with my services and advice.

Tusker is a good company as well, you just pay twice as much for the same trip as 7summits.com/Zara.

The accident could have happened to any company, it is the result of the global warming, the ice that had 'glued'the rocks together for centuries, is now melting. Any mountain is dangerous, Kilimanjaro included, and you have to minimize the risks. The Breach is still very well possible, but with the current numbers of climbers, accidents will happen.

Cheers,
Harry
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Duma on Jan 29 2006, 21:22
[EDIT by 7summits]

I do not often edit posts but this post is just full of lies. The Zara/7summits prices consist about 50% of park fees, the rest (several hundred dollars per client) is for guides, porters etc. It's a shame that people cannot respect an open discussion without trying to paint a black picture about competitors.

What this person says in this post is true for budget companies though, so I will let it stay here as a warning, but it is not true for 7summits/Zara.

Zara is also the main/only sponsor of the Porters socierty: http://www.kilimanjaroporters.com/

And the companies that offer the shortest trips cause the most deaths as the altitude kills most. Mostly these are budget outfitters. There is no relation between the price and the risk, just between the length and the risk.

Now please take your lies elsewhere.

[/edit]


Hi. I have been reading the posts about Zara and just needed to say something. I am a safari guide frome Tanzania and I know most of the companies very well. Unfortunatly Zara is not one of the good ones. Every company pays the same gov. fee to climg the mountain and go on safari. Zara's prices are often barely $20-50 above these cost for the entire trip. Tis means $20-50 has to cover porter's saleries, guides' salaries, food for the clients and staff, equipment, transfers, hotel room for 2 nights, and anything else they say is included. So most often the poters are working only on tip, the guides are paid very poorly, and the guides are poorly trained and unexperienced. No matter how you look at it, when climbing Kilimanjaro, you get what you pay for. Unfortunatly because of corruption in Tanzania there is no way to see any companies record of deaths on Kilimanjaro, but I know that the companies that offer the cheapest trip have the most deaths!
Duma

[edit by 7summits] By the way, this 'safari guide from Tanzania' is posting using an IP address/internet connection from Midwest Wireless Holdings LLC SPRINTLINK in the US.... Now that is a bit strange.. Wonder which Kili companies are using the same connection..[/edit]
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Dharma Bum on Feb 4 2006, 02:05
  I've just returned from 6 weeks in Tanzania and thought that, with my proximity to the accident, I should lend a post.  On the morning of the climb, my party and I were in the crater camp site preparing for a summit hike.  Just one day before, we had been camped in Arrow Glacier.  It was quite unnerving to know that while we camped, an avalanche was taking the lives of fellow climbers.  Much condolences and sympathies to the climbers and the families.
  On another quick note, I climbed with Zara and their services were top-notch.  Just wanted to set that straight. Take care.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Roy Nirschel on Feb 21 2006, 10:28
The facts about the tragic death of the climbers on the Western Breach (and, perhaps a porter who was injured or killed) remain a bit of a mystery. 

Understandably (I suppose) the Tanzanian authorities do not want all the details (or many) regarding the safety of clmbing one of the highest mountains of the world to be revealed - as it would impact on revenue.  Frankly, no city or place touts its downside as any review of travel books (absent Lonely Planet type guides0.

Regarding "accidents"; many sources indicate that the trekkers on the Western Breach who died above Arrow Glacier should have been above the point where the tragic accident occurred.  Of course, this is unknowable fully but the reprot is that the late start by the firms and trek had the trekkers below the point where they should have been when the rock slide occurred.  Of course, the moutnain kills 10 or more people a year - according to some sources more and at those altitudes everything is a challenge.

Regarding good firms or not:  I saw some horror shows on the mountain while descending (with Tusker which Irecommend for safety and competence) including very ill trekkers confroting sleeping guides who were disinterested, bad equipment, poorly dressed porters, etc.      I had heard many negative comments about Zara while in Tanzania but they apparently are well connected in the local power structure and hav ethe support of many/some of their clients.

More broardly - be preapred, slow down, take control of YOUR trek and be aware.  life is precious and it isnt a matter (and should not be) of life and death to make it Uhuru but it is a high when you do!
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: 7summits on Feb 21 2006, 13:30
Hello Roy,
thanks; it depends on the clients: how afast are they going, can tehy get ready quick enough in the morning. All our guides know to start very early, even when sleeping in the crater, but they cannot take a person who is half dressed.

By the way, your recommended company has created its own horror stories, just for twice the price as many others:
read this story about use of oxygen and the false security expensive companies like to sell... (http://7summits.com/forum/index.php?topic=865.0).
Note the excellent post of TeamKilimanjaro as well.

Normally the high priced outfitters like Tusker are really good of course. Unfortunately, due to their 'quality (expensive)' image, they attract not only people thinking they pay more for safety and definitely pay for luxury which is fine, but also a lot of incompetent climbers with little experience, just a lot of money and that does not make up for it. I would not want to be in a team that has inexperienced people relying on oxygen to get to Kili's summit..

Cheers,
Harry
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: jedi-knight on Feb 21 2006, 14:20
hi folks,

reading the posts above makes me wonder. shouldnt we (the climbers) take it upon ourselves to be physically and mentally prepared for the trek up Kili? i mean, no doubt it does not require technical equipment to go up to the summit. but, it is a tall mountain, and not a like a trip to the neighbourhood hill/park.

if you have to rely on oxygen to get to Kili's summit, then perhaps you are not in good shape to trek up the mountain.

just my personal thoughts......

JK
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Eben on Feb 22 2006, 00:15
Hi friends

I am the managing partner of the Kiliwarriors and visit here often to learn more about climbing the other summits - which I plan to do after another 3 or 4 Kili ascents later this year! As it stands I will probably choose a Harry expedition (hoping for an invitatation starting with a 20,000 footer!)

On Kilimanjaro, however, things are a bit different as it is a trekking (not climbing) experience and I just want to set the record straight about safety, fitness and costs from our point of view!

We do carry oxygen,  Gamow bag, oximeters and an AED on every climb that overnight at 18,500ft near the crater rim. For good reason - and not for marketing reasons as some of the earlier posts here may suggest.

Heart failure is one of the dangers on Kili. Even very fit marathon runners have perished due to heart attacks (a 57-year South African in 2004 for example). An AED with supplemental oxygen will at least provide some hope for recovery when the the first few minutes are crucial. Modern AEDs are designed for use by the untrained public but even so our guides have been trained to use it anyway. I think that a few years from now these devices will be common on Kili, in safari vehicles and elsewhere.

This is particularly important for older tourists above the age of 60. And our clients are getting older each year with several 70-year olds in 2006.

I agree that using oxygen as a booster is wrong. We have a strict policy against it - in fact we've only administered oxygen once in 3 years (recently to an experienced  porter who had breathing problems near Barranco due to an unknown infection). Our oxygen is reserved for serious problems such as heart failures.

We've used our Gamow bag twice in 3 years at the Crater Camp - both with clients from budget companies who go serious AMS in the middle of the night after climbing too fast to 18,500ft. Our guides were called to help and the decisions were made to use the Gamow bag instead of carrying the clients to Stella Point (higher altitude) due to the serious degree of AMS. An hour or so later the climbers calmed down and we helped carry them down to Barafu. Both clients recovered and felt that the Gamow Bag saved their lives. Maybe it did, maybe they would've surivived being carried for 40 minutes and longer in the dark of night with snow falling and biting cold and in the midst of panic. We feel the Gamow bag is necessary if you sleep at the Crater camp - but not needed elsewhere.

Oximeters are fun to use and clients enjoy comparing their readings! We use oximeters only to confirm what our guides already know - they can see when someone is not acclimatizing well and oximeters may be a visual way to help explain that a client needs to drink more water or eat more and so on! An oximeter can never replace the knowledge of a trained guide. We've had bad readings from strong guides and porters and good readings from clients who were visibly suffering from AMS symptoms.

The last point is about climb costs. While it is true that equipment such as Trango 4 tents and AEDs cost more, some companies charge more simply because they pay more! We are one of those! Our junior porters earn around $100 per climb and we pay incentives to use our CMCs to stop digging holes for waste at the high camps. Senior porters and camp crew earn more and all receive all the royalties of Kilimanjaro DVDs filmed by me.

Our guides earn a percentage of the income for each climb - in 2006 this has exceeded $600 on several climbs!  While I cannot speak for other companies, higher climb costs don't necessarily translate to ripoffs as some earlier posts may suggest! Fortunaly there are many outfitters with rates to suit all budgets!

It will be nice if all outfitters start to post their porter and guide salaries on their websites! We do it and maybe Harry can do the same - let's lead the way to improve the lives of our mountain teams.

Kind regards
Eben (the managing Kiliwarrior)
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Mountain John on Feb 22 2006, 03:02
I don't know the full story on this accident.

But I can say I used Zara in December 2003 to climb Kilimanjaro and then a 3 day Safari.  The service and safety were excellent on both the climb and Safari.

I don't normally eat breakfast.  But they served us a big breakfast.  I ate several servings of "cream of wheat", and I was full.  Then came the eggs and more.  I could not eat that.  When the guide heard from the meal server that I was not eating breakfast, he came over to me and asked how I was feeling (he thought I had a loss of appetite, due to altitude).  I assured him I was fine.  The point here is they were very concerned about the climbers.

All big mountains have big risks.  We, as climbers, need to be prepared ourselves, so as not to give mountaineering a bad name.

John
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: sdoownek on Feb 22 2006, 08:53
I am the managing partner of the Kiliwarriors and visit here often to learn more about

(snip)

Kind regards
Eben (the managing Kiliwarrior)

Your reply was very well composed, but based on what I know about climbing, you can count me out as one of your future clients.

Glad I've already climbed Kili:

Ken


Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: m.c. reinhardt on Feb 22 2006, 09:35

We feel the Gamow bag is necessary if you sleep at the Crater camp - but not needed elsewhere.


Eben

Echoing sdoownek's words...your reply was very well composed but I do not agree with the above quote.  It seems to me that if you acclimate properly, you should not need to have a Gamow bag.  If you are going to spend the night in the Crater camp, (which I will be doing in 2007) it is imperative that you have acclimated prior to sleeping at that altitude.  I plan on climbing several peaks over 14,000 feet within several months of climbing Kili.  And I will do a 9 day climb to ensure that I am properly acclimated.  Of course, whenever someone shows signs of AMS, the need to go to a lower altitude is imperative.  That is why "great" guides are so important.  They can recognize the symtoms when a client may not.  But I can see the need for a Gamow bag if you have any "heart condition" or if over a certain age.  Maybe 60 or so.  And if someone wants to pay the extra money to have the availability of a Gamow bag, it certainly can't hurt!

MC      :)   
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 22 2006, 09:52


Your reply was very well composed, but based on what I know about climbing, you can count me out as one of your future clients.

Glad I've already climbed Kili:

Ken

Ken, why do you say that?  Please share for the rookies.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Eben on Feb 22 2006, 20:36
mc

Yes, if one looks at our statistics at the Crater Camp a strong argument can be made that we don't need a Gamow bag - we have not used it with any of our own clients! But it only adds $150 to the costs (per trip, not per person) and we will never forgive ourselves for not having it when we do need it for some unexpected reason.

Unexpected events do happen at the Crater camp. Despite taking all the precautions such as enough time on the mountain (in our case 6 nights before we reach Crater Camp), with sensisible daily altitude gains (about 2000ft per day), good food and water, slow pace, constant monitoring and such, every year a few clients still have to be evacuated to a lower camp during the night. In our case, the indications of AMS (and also chest pains/breathing problems) were mild enough so we could safely walk the clients to Stella Point then up and down to Barafu and beyond.  A Gamow bag was not needed and we hope to never use it!

Unfortunately many budget outfitters do end up at the Crater camp completely underequipped, undermanned and unprepared with clients that show very visible signs of AMS or worse - there guides and/or porters have AMS!
We see this almost on a weekly basis! I would love to post the names of some of these outfitters (you may be surprised) but that's not my purpose here!

Ourselves and a few other outfitters carry Gamow bags as an extra layer of safety not just for our own clients but also to help those poor clients who are (mis)guided to the Crater Camp when they really should not be there!
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: m.c. reinhardt on Feb 23 2006, 00:37

Ourselves and a few other outfitters carry Gamow bags as an extra layer of safety not just for our own clients but also to help those poor clients who are (mis)guided to the Crater Camp when they really should not be there!


Hi Eben

I guess the bottom line is that there will always be clients who are either misguided or just thinking that they are above the dangers of climbing at high altitude.  And they can find themselves overnight at the Crater Camp unprepared.  So, the fact that your outfitter and a few others do carry the Gamow bags is a good thing and could save lives.  (And possibly has already saved lives!)

Good luck on your next climb (whichever of the remaining 6 summits you choose.)  Happy climbing always!

MC      :)
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: sdoownek on Feb 23 2006, 05:46
Ken, why do you say that?  Please share for the rookies.

This turned into more of a full blown rant than I intended. Sorry.

Climbing is dangerous.  That's fact, one that we all know.  It could be said that it's the most un-natural of natural inclinations that we humans have. The act invokes a certain level of fear.  If not fear, at least some manner of trepidation.  When it doesn't, you tend to, eh, die.   Some call this fear "respect"

The issue that I've just commented on can be reduced to education.   Without education, we as a species have failed.  The issue I have with gamow bags and o2 on Kili is simply that it's not needed, as long as you educate yourself about what you're doing.   If you leave Boston, fly to Kili, jump off the plane, and run up the mountain in 12 hours, yes, you're going to have problems.  But who among us doesn't know that this is a bad idea? And should those problems be "fixed" by solving the symptoms, or the root problem? 

Kili is often the first mountain that people climb.  As such the guides there have an ethical responsibility to educate their clients. Experience is more than simply placing one foot in front of another.

That's part of the problem with some commercial guiding services--they accept clients based on the size of their wallets, not on their experience or knowledge, and are totally unwilling to educate them once on the mountain.

OK, so all that said, I despise the fact that there are outfitters out there that are playing into, nay, actively promoting, fear and poor education onto climbers that are unprepared for what they're getting into.  That leads into a discussion about greed and materialism that's not exactly on topic.   I'll save that for later.
 
Is it a good thing that somebody has extra medical gear on the mountain?  Yes, and I'm glad that this company does it.  Perhaps one day they'll save somebody from dying.  But, one can always descend. You don't have multiple hanging belays to deal with to get somebody to a lower altitude. You walk downhill. What would impress me much more is if this company were to carry the gear, and not use it as a marketing tool.  The bag is what, 15lbs?  Why not carry it and use it if needed, but not make a big deal about it?  Having the items available for use for safety is different that having them for marketing purposes.

Nevertheless, getting a patient to a lower altitude is really the only solution; anything else is a short-term fix. Sort of like using O2.  Great high, but what the hell happens when you come off of it?  That's right, boys and girls, it's called a crashnburn.  That's exponentially more dangerous than making you feel good by taking a hit off a bottle. I don't know how the guide services on Kili distribute O2, if it's just something you suck on at camp at night, or if you actually carry a bottle.  Hint:  If you're using o2 set to .25l/hr, you're really doing nothing but carrying extra weight.  Either way, it's not really needed. (at least in my opinion.....)

If we continue the logic path that being laid out, next we'll all need overstuffed full suits, 12pt crampons on plastic boots, diamox, and dex shots.  For going to 5900 meters?  Not so much.

In summary:  Climb with climbers. 3000/300 or 10000/1000.  Climb high, sleep low.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: jedi-knight on Feb 23 2006, 07:30
i agree with some of the postings on educating the clients. the clients need to know their own limits and know when to turn back. the problem is, having paid in some instances large sums of money, these clients dont want to turn back unless they reach the summit.

to me, its a simple thing. even if i have paid a lot of money, and even if the mountain is only 4000m, as long as i dont feel good, i slow down and if necessary, turn back. its just not worth risking one's life for that moment of glory. just retreat, and live to fight another day.

just my thoughts  O0
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 23 2006, 09:41
Ken, thanks for the explanation. 

I'm planning on climbing this year and my research has been frustrating when trying to determine how dangerous the Western Breach is.  The IMAX movie has old ladies and infants climbing it, while some companies have steered me away from it, saying it is just too dangerous.  But given that the international companies recommend it, I figured it can't be THAT dangerous if fat Americans (I'm American, so don't get sensitive to that comment, although not fat :P) are being led on this route.  But after collecting as much info as I could and reading people's blogs and looking at photos, I'm positive that I'll do the Lemosho/WB route.  WB and crater camp is the best part of the climb, isn't it? 

Lastly, on the Zara website and the Kiliwarriors website, both report that the Western Breach is closed.  What's the truth here?  Open or closed?
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Helle on Feb 23 2006, 13:13
Hi

I am new to this forum. I have just returned from Kilimanjaro. I work occasionally as a guide/tourleader and cooperate with Zara.

Quote
Lastly, on the Zara website and the Kiliwarriors website, both report that the Western Breach is closed.  What's the truth here?  Open or closed?

The Western Breach Route is closed in the sense that you have to apply specifically for a permission to climb. You will most likely get the permission, but you will have to sign for taking the risk.

As for the discussion of Gamow bags and oxygen..... We bring both. But it is NOT to bring clients to the summit. We bring the equipment for emergency and we follow the politics: If you need oxygen, you have a serious reaction, and you have to go down. Going down when having a serious reaction or being seriously ill can be a delicate matter, and the oxygen and gamowbag can be very helpful.
This February we used the oxygen twice. One of our porters got very sick with pulmunary oedema. He had oxygen and medication and was helped down by four porters. He had proper medical aid in Moshi and he has recovered.
When I summited with my group Feb 15th an american client from another group accidently crashed into the crater - just 10 minutes from Uhuru Peak. He was severely injured and I stayed with him at the summit for hours with his guide, my guide and his friend. He was unconscious and he was a heavy man. With the help from 3 other guides we just managed to move him to Stella Point, waiting for the rescue team. He had oxygen to help his breathing and cope with the altitude.
The rescue team arrived very late and only managed to bring him through Mweka Camp at 2 at night.

All together, I was guite happy to bring the oxygen, and I will certainly do it again.

Helle

NB - If anyone out there happens to know what became of the american, I would be grateful to know.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Roger on Feb 23 2006, 16:09
Hey walktheearth
In the IMAX film they had a team of hundreds, took three weeks to climb and then came back later to shoot some of the scenes again, so all is  not as it seems.

Go the Western Breach,  take at least 7-9 days, go via Shira Plateau first camp at big tree then take your time going from camp to camp, pole, pole.

You will  have a great time.  Make sure you stay at Crater camp on top. Climb Western Breach in daylight, early am while rocks still frozen. Dont go at night, no point and you miss the scenery.

My other tip is to climb Mt Meru first and day one ask to go via the longer route, more scenic and more animals. Drink lots of water

Cheers
Roger
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 24 2006, 11:52
Yeah, I'm doing a 9 day climb, so acclimatization should be sufficient.

If only Harry would write me back, so I can book already.   ???
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: m.c. reinhardt on Feb 24 2006, 12:47
Hi walktheearth

I know you said that you wanted to climb Kili this year and you want to go via the western breach route.  I am doing a 9 day climb via the Lemosho/Breach route next year.  I am leaning with June 2007 but I am considering sometime around Jan. 2007.  I would like to plan my summit during a full moon.  JK is also definitely doing Kili and we are currently trying to work out simultaneous dates.  (See "partners needed for Kilimanjaro"  http://7summits.com/forum/index.php?topic=1008.0 - scroll down toward bottom of page.)  If you would like to consider going next year instead of this year, let me know.

MC    :)
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Roger on Feb 24 2006, 13:16
Hey MC and walktheearth

Have a crack at Little Meru and Mt Meru you wont regret it. You will see Kili when climbing and then when you are on Kili and people point out Mt Meru you will be able to share you stories of the climb with them :))
Lots of people over look Mt Meru
If you are staying at Arusha, it has Mt Meru as its backdrop bigger than life.
Recommend the journey down by shuttle bus from Nairobi via Namanga border also its a real eye opener.

Cheers
Roger
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 24 2006, 21:23
MC, thanks for the invite, but my flight is already purchased, so the dates are locked.  However, I will need climbing partners for the other mountains, so stay active on this site in the future.  ;)

Roger, the rest of my trip will be spent on a safari and and in zanzibar, so I don't have any more days to spare.  But thank you for the suggestion.  Perhaps I'll make it back one day.
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Tatro43 on Feb 25 2006, 01:51
I just booked my trip for Jan 2007 with EWP. We are doing the Westerb breach, and staying 1 night in the crater. Can't Wait!!!

Chris
Title: Re: I found this on Mtkilmanjaro.org
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 27 2006, 08:06
KILIMANJARO SAFETY PATROL RECONNAISSANCE EXPEDITION
25th - 27th January 2006
An investigation to determine the cause of the Western Breach accident of 4th January 2006 and to offer recommendations for the way forward for this route.

1. Description of Western Breach
Location of Arrow Glacier Camp: 03°04.580' S, 037°20.357' E. Altitude: 4871m
Location of point of entry onto Crater: 03°04.396' S, 037°21.105' E. Altitude: 5726m
Mean gradient of slope: 38.0°
Mean gradient of route: 26.0°
Linear distance from Arrow to Crater: 1.39km
Route distance from Arrow to Crater: 1.95km

The present route ascending the Western Breach can be said to consist of 7 phases:
1) Route zigzags on scree slope from Arrow Camp at 4871m,
2) attains red rock band at 5090m,
3) emerges from top of red rock band at 5205m where attains scree slope 230 metres beneath right arms of r-shaped glacier,
4) trail moves diagonally left on scree before switching right to cross tributary (2nd water point, sometimes frozen) at 5308m at halfway point en route to crater lip,
5) trail continues diagonally right to top of 'rock train' where attains rock spur until base of crater wall
6) ascends rock tower with series of switchbacks and rock steps before emerging onto narrow scree slope,
7) route moves diagonally right across scree band to emerge through crater wall onto crater at 5726m. 'O' indicates location of Western Breach on Kibo's south west face

2. Causes of the Accident
Residual glacial deposit assumed to have been formed over many years at intersection between left and right arms of r-shaped glacier (see figure 5). Part of this deposit collapsed, estimated by group at 39 tonnes, sliding 150 metres down the slope, reaching a group estimated speed of 39 metres per second at the point where the climbers were struck.

Cause of dislodgement: melting of ice in ice-scree composite bonding residual glacial deposit combined with strong downhill winds measured at 177 km/h on morning of accident³. Climbers failed to respond to threat because of following factors:
- estimated only 4-5 seconds* before sound emanating from rocks gathering speed reached climbers;
- strong winds deflecting sound;
- poor visibility with snowfall.

¹ the team examined a conspicuous cavity at the accident source site from where the recent fallen rocks were believed to have been dislodged that caused this accident. Based on the apparent concentration of remaining rocks adjoining this area, members estimated the number of 7 tonne truck loads required to re-fill this cavity. An average was taken and the figure of 39 tonnes arrived at.

² based on compared experiences of three members of the team who themselves had been exposed to rockfall.

³ measured by Zara Guide George Lyimo during ascent of Western Breach Route on morning of accident, using Austrian manufactured "Ciclo" wind speed gauge wrist unit, assumed error of 5%. Lyimo quit camp approximately 3 hours before the deceased.

*mean velocity = distance / time, thus (39 - 0)/2 = 150 / t, thus t = 7.7 seconds. Subtract from this time taken for sound to reach climbers, 0.5 seconds, (speed of sound = 300 m/s), thus time between sound and rock reaching climbers = 7.7 - 0.5 = 7.2 seconds.

It is assumed that while rock begins to become dislodged a significant volume of sound is not emitted within the first 2-3 seconds, before the originating rocks begin to impact other rocks and build speed.

3. Current Status of Route
The route is judged currently to be not safe with special concern over two risk zones: Risk Zone A (yellow, below): residual glacial deposit at intersection of right and left arms of r-shaped glacier resulting in a death risk from rock fall zone from 5180m to 5315m.

Risk Zone B (red, below): crater wall and rock tower subsidence at 5440m to 5780m resulting in a death risk from rock fall zone from 5280m to 5480m. The remainder of the route is judged to be subject to no specific identifiable imminent threats.

4. Recommendations
1) Our principal recommendation is to divert the route from near the top of the red rock band to the base of the prominent rock feature known as the 'Stone Train'. The route should proceed to handrail up the left hand edge of the Stone Train to attain the rock spur adjoining the base of the crater wall at approximately 5400m.

2) A signboard should be erected at Arrow Glacier camp stating the following, or similar: "The Western Breach ascent route is subject to considerable objective risk, primarily from rock fall. Climbers should be aware that while it is not possible to avoid all risk, in order to minimize exposure to rock fall, ascents should depart from Arrow Glacier camp no later than 5:30 am."

3) The route should be clearly signposted with prohibitions not to proceed beyond the red rock band. The new diversion should be clearly marked with warning sign advising climbers that they are entering a rock fall risk zone and requesting that they proceed swiftly across the demarcated zone to the base of the Stone Train. The Stone Train diversion route should be well prepared with steps cut to assist swift passage across tributary at base of risk zone B. The team believes that this measure will reduce the time spent in a rock fall risk zone from some 55 minutes to 5 minutes.

4) Consultation with, and commissioning of studies by, further specialists (seismologists, glaciologists, geologists, meteorologists, etc) to assess the long term future risks associated with climate change and Kilimanjaro's altering geology and glaciology.

5) The present team to form the basis of a future safety patrol team tasked with visiting the mountain on a monthly or bi-monthly basis to survey and identify possible future risk areas in the light of the rapidly changing climatic situation on Kilimanjaro. The team believes the following areas to merit close and regular inspection:
1) Western Breach
2) Barranco Breach Wall
3) Area beneath the Kersten and Decken Glaciers
4) South East Valley beneath Stella Point
5) Final re-entrant before attaining Barafu Rib on the Machame Route
6) Area between Hans Meyer Cave and Gilman's Point
(On 29th January the team learned that precisely this area had suffered rock fall only 3 days prior).
7) Lava Tower

It would be hoped that this team would be instrumental in averting future disasters by offering appropriate recommendations to contain or evade perceived threats throughout Mount Kilimanjaro.

7) A survey of visitors to Kilimanjaro National Park should be conducted in order to ascertain the general feeling of the tourist community towards the prospects of:
a) closure of the Western Breach ascent route
b) continuing to conduct ascents via the Western Breach despite proven risks of ongoing possible rock fall, albeit following the implementation of a new route section that will significantly reduce exposure to these hazards
c) continuing the use of the other two assault routes on the mountain, via Barafu and Kibo Huts, which are also believed to be becoming more risk prone as rock bonding agents throughout the mountain lose integrity with perceived rising temperatures and a reduction in precipitation generally.

Appendix A
Mathematically, the maximum speed obtainable by a rock falling in unresisted freefall from the source site (130 verticalmetres above point of impact) would be 113 mph by the time it reached the casualties:
1): (V2 - V1) / t = a = 9.81 m/s/s, thus, 9.81t = V2 - V1
2): (V2 - V1) / 2 = d / t, thus, (V2 - V1) / 2 = 130 / t, thus, 260 = t(V2 - V1), and V2 - V1 = 9.81t, thus, 260 = t(9.81t), thus, 9.81t² = 260, thus, t = (260 / 9.81) Thus, t = 5.15 seconds, thus max. mean velocity = 130 / 5.15 = 25.24 m/s, thus max final velocity (in freefall) = 2 x 25.24 = 50.5 m/s = 182 km/h = 113 mph.

Appendix B
The estimate of 39 metres per second (140.4 km/h or 87.2 mph) is based on the compared experiences of three team members (Elias Msemo, George Lyimo and John Rees-Evans) who themselves had been exposed to rock fall on previous occasions and who for the purpose of this report each independently estimated the speed at which rock fall that they had witnessed had passed them on similarly angled slopes to that beneath the r-shaped glacier from the base of which the recent rock fall was dislodged. An average of these three estimates was taken. This method is not claimed to be systematic or accurate however we believe it to be a reliable approximation. The team is aware that an eyewitness survivor estimated the falling rock to be travelling at "150 mph" but as this rock originated only 150m above the accident site the accelerative force acting on this rock would be required to be in excess of the resultant gravitational force acting upon an unresisted rock in freefall:

150 mph = 67.1 m/s time required for unresisted projectile in freefall to obtain this speed = = 6.8 seconds
With the accident being sited at a max. elevation of 5280m (evidence was recovered from 5245m) the rock fall would have been required to have originated at 5736m which is above the level of the crater wall at this point:

final velocity = thus, 67.1 = therefore x = 456.3 metres, added to 5280 = 5736 metres elevation
Further, note that these calculations describe a rock in freefall which we would judge to be considerably faster than that of a rock rolling down a 30 - 40 degree slope.

The Team:
Imani Kikoti Park Warden, KINAPA Acting as Chairman
Joseph Paul Nchereri Athlete, Team Kilimanjaro Acting as Secretary
Ambrose Mlay Rescue Ranger, KINAPA Member
George Lyimo Guide, Zara Tours Member
Elias Msemo Guide, African Environment Member
John Rees-Evans Director, Team Kilimanjaro Member

Signed:
Imani Kikoti, Chairman Joseph Paul Nchereri, Secretary
Left to right: Ambrose Mlay, Elias Msemo, George Lyimo, John Rees-Evans, Imani Kikoti.


Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: m.c. reinhardt on Feb 27 2006, 08:53
Good information, walktheearth.  Thank you for the post.

Regarding the following proposed route recommended by the Kilimanjaro safety patrol reconnaissance expedition, does anyone have a detailed map of the mountain that would show this route i.e. a map that shows the landmarks: the Stone Train or the rock spur adjoining the base of the crater wall?

4. Recommendations
1) Our principal recommendation is to divert the route from near the top of the red rock band to the base of the prominent rock feature known as the 'Stone Train'. The route should proceed to handrail up the left hand edge of the Stone Train to attain the rock spur adjoining the base of the crater wall at approximately 5400m.

I have had slight concerns regarding the increased risk factor via the Western Breach route.  I have been looking into a possible camp just above the Barafu Camp, then from there a route that would ascend to the Crater Camp.  One way or another, I plan on sleeping overnight in the Crater.  Thanks again for this report.

MC    :D
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Feb 27 2006, 09:21
No prob, MC.  I have the same concern with the Breach and I agree, crater camp and ash pit hike is a must.  Good to see the authorities are taking the rockfall incident seriously.  I think by the time I do my trip in August, we'll have a better idea of whether the rockfall was an anomaly or the beginning of a trend.

Did you catch the other story about a hiker dying from falling into the crater?  Unreal.  It's in the news section of the forum.

Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: Cy Kaicener on Mar 4 2006, 04:48
Regretfully there have been more deaths on Kilimanjaro near Gilman Point and Stella Point on Feb 20
http://www.everestnews.com/stories2005/kil03012006.htm
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: earth-walker on Mar 9 2006, 19:18
Harry has informed me that the WB is fully closed indefinitely.  :-\

So now I have the choice of doing crater camp prior to summit via Stella Point or after summiting.  I think I'll do crater camp prior to summit to avoid the night time ascent.

Anyone have opinions on either option?
Title: Re: Climbers killed on Western Breach of Kilimanjaro
Post by: m.c. reinhardt on Mar 10 2006, 06:30
walktheearth

We are both in the same dilemma but fortunately I believe that either route will be great. (Lemosho/Western Breach or Lemosho/Machame)  There is a small chance that the Breach will be re-opened before you go in August (if it's deemed safe enough.)

If you end up doing the Lemosho/Machame route, my recommendation would be to sleep in the Crater camp the night before your summit to Uhuru peak.

I will look forward to hearing about your climb, safari and trip to zanzibar.  You are definitely doing it "right".

Many cheers

MC  :)