I just came across an article about Mount Kilimanjaro. It says something I find difficult to believe.
There’s no clear number of how many people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year, although it’s at least 20,000. Steinhilber said probably less than half that number make it to the true summit.
When they reach Stella Point — about 800 to 1,000 feet below the actual peak, Uhuru Peak — many figure “good enough,” she said.
Upon reaching Stella Point, I actually thought I was practically there. But then I saw how far the trail continued. It was no longer so steep – it’s a very significant incline to that point – but it was still another 1-2 hours from the summit. And perhaps that was the most excruciating part. It felt like I should be seeing that idyllically simple African sign indicating the summit of the mountain at any moment, but it seemed like it was perpetually ‘just around the next corner’.
But could I have ever just stopped? Could I ever have just called it good because the rest of the way was mentally frustrating?
Summit day is roughly 4,000 feet of elevation gain. Stella Point is a mere 700 or so feet lower than the summit – and that’s over the course of a good distance. It constitutes an insignificant portion of the entire hike, even if it is in some ways the most difficult. Unless the person is physically struggling with the elevation (I was told after the fact that someone in another group died near Stella Point on the same day I was there), I find it impossible to believe anyone could just say ‘good enough’.
(Please excuse Buga for the crooked horizon.)
Update: I am reminded by a member of my hiking group that the peak is actually visible from Stella Point.