Camping on the Shira Plateau near the summit
of Mt. Kilimanjaro
The Roof of Africa

Scaling the Mighty Mt. Kilimanjaro

By Tom Dunkel

They starved, maybe froze," says Hubert Damion, the head guide accompanying our nine-person climbing team, surveying the strange carcasses at his feet.

Hubert and I are standing on a desolate, windswept plateau that will serve as tonight's campsite. In the distance, a figurative waterfall of rock spills down from the upper reaches of the mountain. Tomorrow we begin our scramble up a cut in that soaring facade called the Western Breach. If all goes well, we should gain more than 4,000 feet in elevation over the next two days and arrive at the doorstep of our ultimate destination: 19,340-foot Uhuru Peak. The summit of Kilimanjaro. The snow-covered rooftop of Africa.

If all goes well.