A few weeks ago I posted ‘On the Roof of Africa’. That post included images from my ascent of Kilimanjaro 5 years ago with Jagged Globe. If you have not read that earlier post then you might like to click here to take a look at it for some background information.
In that Post I promised I would subsequently post images of the amazing sunrises I experienced on that expedition, and since we climbed two mountains during the course of 10 days, I’m splitting the story into two posts. To go to Part 2 of ‘Sunrise over the roof of Africa’, about Kilimanjaro, click here.
Today’s images come from the ascent of Mt Meru (another extinct volcano like Kili). At 4,596M (14,974ft) it’s a big mountain itself – not far short of the height of Mont Blanc in the Alps.
Meru was an initial three-day acclimatization climb – very beneficial for that reason alone. You really do benefit from climbing high and then descending back down before attempting Kili. It’s also a totally different mountain from Kili, sited within the Arusha National Park where we saw Warthog, Buffalo, Elephant and Giraffe and trekked up through a series of eco-zones. Bizarrely we were accompanied on the climb by a Park Ranger equipped with a rifle in case we were charged by a Buffalo: No shots were fired!
Our first Sunrise experience was on the morning of Day 2 from the Miriakamba Huts. Superb views of the rising sun visible through billowing clouds just to the right of the brooding hulk of Kilimanjaro 30 miles away.
And then you turn round and see the warm glow of Sunrise on the sheer 5,000ft crater wall of Meru, and its summit. Our first really clear view of our objective.
By the end of Day 2 we were looking back out and down towards the African Plains masked by a sea of clouds, while above us Meru was once again hugging the clouds.
We set out for the Summit from Saddle Hut on Day 3 at 1:20AM, climbing through the night by the light of head-torches and a nearly full moon. The route eventually followed the rim of the crater wall, at times steep and always on loose dusty scree. After four and a half hours of uphill toil the sky started to lighten and we reached a notch in the ridge about 500ft shy of the Summit. I knew that Dawn wasn’t far off and looking up I could see that if I continued to the summit I would be likely to miss it as the route diverted off the ridge onto the shadow side of the mountain. Sunrise or Summit? An easy decision: watching the Sunrise from a good vantage point was a far better option than climbing a few more feet just to say I had reached a summit. There was no further acclimatization benefit in doing that.
And so I sat with another member of the team who’d had enough for one day, and we watched as the day dawned and the sun rose just over the shoulder of Kilimanjaro’s silhouette 30 miles away – what amazing good fortune to have that juxtaposition of sun and mountain. The images that follow span 30 minutes and speak for themselves. Click to enlarge an individual image.
At high altitude there is also, in clear weather, another phenomenon going on behind you. Time to turn round and witness the extraordinary sight of the mountain’s shadow projected on the land far below.
This was one of the purest Sunrises I have seen. Glorious bands of color. The landscape devoid of clutter or competing objects. Just the sky, a silhouette and the sun rising above the clouds. It’s something I will never forget.
An hour later, the sun had risen further and we now gazed down onto a sunlit ocean of clouds lapping at the rocks far below, Kilimanjaro seemingly floating in space in the far distance.
Come back on Friday for Part 2 of ‘Sunrise over the Roof of Africa’ with images from 19,000ft on Kilimanjaro itself.