Month: February 2010

Game Viewing Safari February 2010

Each time we go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro we follow up the climb with a game viewing safari. This is an event not to be missed! Seeing these animals living in their natural environment just like they always have is a very special experience. We use veteran safari drivers and 4 x 4 Land Rovers with removable rooftops so we can get excellent views and photos of the animals. Photo opportunities are plentiful, the scenery is gorgeous, and the opporunity to learn more about these famous animals we were all introduced to through books and other media at a very young age makes this an excellent way to wind down after a Kilimanjaro climb.

Here are a few pictures from our latest safari. The entire photo gallery is here:

African Elephant. Elephants in East Africa are easily distinguishable from their Asian counterparts by their ears. Their ears contain many blood vessels and they flap them as a cooling mechanism. African elephants can not be tamed so we normally don’t see them in the circus.

Adult elephants guard their calves closely.

Hippos with storks in the background. Hippos spend most of the daytime hours in water.

Giraffes in Lake Manyara National Park

Spotted hyena in the Ngorongoro Crater with a vigilant Thompson’s gazelle watching its every move.

Zebra in the Ngorongoro Crater with flamingos behind.

Baby zebra learning to run.

Up close and personal.

Black rhinos have been brought to the vere of extinction in East Africa due to hunting and poaching in the last century. On our first safari we learned there were 17 rhinos remaining in the Ngorongoro Crater. Today there are 26.

It is not everybody who is fortunate enough to go on safari and see a black rhino let alone get close enough to get a clear picture of one. We were very blessed to see a couple different black rhinos on this visit to the Ngorongoro Crater

Cape buffalos in the Ngorongoro Crater.

There are over 1100 bird species on East Africa. It would be possible to spend several weeks and still not see them all. Here are a few we saw on this safari.

Egyptian Geese

Southern Grond Hornbill

Grey Crowned Crane

Bee Eater

Yellow-billed storks and African Spoonbills

100% Summit Success on Kilimanjaro February 2010!!

On February 7 SMI guides Kurt Wedberg and Sara Berghoff boarded a plane at LAX bound for Tanzania to lead another climb to the “Roof of Africa”. Kilimanjaro is one of the most famous mountains in the world and the highest mountain in the entire continent of Africa at 19,340 feet, 5895m. Our group consisted of six friends from Southern California and one who lives in Topeka, Kansas: Frank Baxter, Donna Fol, Jim Marver, Bill Simon, Cindy Simon, and Reid Stacey. Our route of choice was the Umbwe. We descended the Mweka Route. As is now customary on SMI Kilimanjaro climbs we allow 7 days for the climb instead of the standard 5-6. This gives us more acclimatization and helps set our groups up for success. We were rewarded with a safe and successful climb. We were blessed with beautiful weather for our summit day and together our entire group reached the summit and returned safely down off the mountain with a huge accomplishment to add to their life experiences.

Cindy Simon kept a detailed blog that began with some of their training hikes well before we departed on this trip. Rather than repeat the information here we invite you to visit her account of this climb on her site and get a look into our climb from the perspective of one of the participants:

Congratulations to everyone on a safe and successful climb!! We’re pround of everyone’s efforts. Below are a few pictures from the trip. The entire photo galleries can be found here:

Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet, 5895m) from below. Much of the land surrounding the base of Kilimanjaro is rich in minerals and makes for excellent cultivation of crops.

The February 2010 Kilimanjaro team. From left to right: Kurt Wedberg, Cindy Simon, Bill Simon, Sara Berghoff, Jim Marver, Donna Fol, Reid Stacey, Frank Baxter

The group ready to begin day 1 of our 7 day climb at the start of the Umbwe Route.

Kilimanjaro Impatient. This flower only grows in the jungle zone around Kilimanjaro.

The jungle zone on Kilimanjaro hosts a rich variety of flora and fauna. We were treated to a view of a troop of blue monkeys on this trip.

Setting up camp in the jungle at 9350 feet, 2850m at the end of day 1.

Bill and Cindy Simon pause for a photo on day 2 as we began breaking out of the jungle and were treated to our first view of Kilimanjaro since we began our hike on the previous day.

Lobilia plants are common in East Africa. They feature a leaf system that allows them to collect and store water that they can drink as needed.

Giant Senacio trees are seen at 12,000 – 13,000 feet on Kilimanjaro.

Jim Marver enjoying the hike as we break out of the jungle en route to Barranco Camp on day 2.

Our tents at Barranco Camp at 12,926 feet, 3940m with the Western Breach Wall of Kilimanjaro behind.

Bill and Kurt enjoying a card game with some of our Chagga staff.

Jim Marver negotiating the Barranco Wall on day 4.

Reid Stacey enjoying the hike en route to Karanga Camp on day 4.

Monarch butterfly on a thistle.

Sara and Cindy are all smiles as we near Karanga Camp on day 4.

The group poses for a picture upon arrival at Karanga Camp at 12,893 feet, 3930m after a memorable and scenic hike on day 4.

Evening at Karanga Camp with the town of Moshi in the distance.

View from Karanga Camp on the morning of day 5.

The group on the move to high camp; Barafu Camp at 15,100 feet, 4600m.

Valentine’s Day Kilimanjaro style… Bill and Cindy Simon.

The team arrives at Barafu Camp on day 5. Healthy and happy we’re in position for our summit attempt in the morning.

Our summit attempt begins in the middle of the night.

Donna Fol and Bill Simon at a rest on summit day.

Jim marver and Bill Simon pause for a photo at dawn at approximately 18,500 feet, 5640m

Frank Baxter smiling on summit day at sunrise as we approach 19,000 feet, 5791m.

The team casting shadows into the crater of Kilimanjaro shortly after sunrise. The summit is the highest point on the right skyline.

As we traverse the crater rim we see the top of the of the glaciers that flank Kilkimanjaro.

Our happy and satisfied group posing for a summit photo under a clear and windless day!! Congratulations everybody!!!

Mt. Whitney Clinics a big success!

Each year SMI founder Kurt Wedberg gives a series of informational clinics about climbing Mt. Whitney hosted by Adventure 16 stores in Southern California. Mt. Whitney continues to be one of the most popular mountains in the United States for people to climb. These clinics are always well attended. Over the course of 5 days Kurt spoke to several hundred aspiring Mt. Whitney climbers. Some are looking to climb this beautiful mountain for the first time and others return year after year to add another great life experience to their memory box. These clinics are always fun for attendees who have the opportunity to pick the brain of the foremost guide on Mt. Whitney who has climbed this mountain 100+ times by 5+ different routes. Kurt’s presentations include a slideshow details equipment, planning and preparation, instructions on the annual lottery process and how to apply for wilderness permits, tips on training, and a question and answer session.

Kurt answering questions during a presentation.

Ice Climbing in Lee Vining Canyon January 31, 2010

The ice climbing season is in full swing in the Eastern Sierra. During the fall months as the temperature drops ice begins to form in the high walls in Lee Vining Canyon. Our first trip out there was in early December. Since that time the ice has slowly been getting more and more “fat” as water continues to drip down the walls and freeze at night. Freshly back from a successful expedition to Aconcagua we were anxious to check out the ice conditions. After teaching a Level 1 Avalanche Course on January 22-24 we then got our chance! Below are a few photos from a visit on January 31. The entire photo gallery is here:

Chouinard Falls at Lee Vining Canyon on January 31, 2010.