What are Some of the Reasons People Fail to Summit Kilimanjaro

Summiting Kilimanjaro is a challenging feat, and many climbers don’t make it to the top. Over 35,000 people attempt to make the summit and only about 30% make it. Here are the top reasons people fail to summit Kilimanjaro.reason people fail to summit Kilimanjaro

Untrained Guides

The expertise of your guide can make or break your Kilimanjaro adventure. Inexperienced and poorly trained guides not only decrease your chances of reaching the summit but also put your safety at risk. Our guides, each with over 300 summits and more than a decade of experience, are equipped to handle every challenge the mountain throws at you. From managing altitude sickness to ensuring proper hydration and nutrition, their knowledge and vigilance are key to a successful and safe climb.

Lack of Training

approaching Lava Tower

Climbing to 19,341 feet is no walk in the park. The trek involves hiking 4-6 hours a day over steep, uneven terrain. You’ll traverse through various climate zones. On summit day you’ll also have to endure bitter cold and windy conditions. Physical fitness is crucial. We recommend starting your training 12 weeks before your climb, incorporating stair climbing, elliptical workouts, and long hikes. Gradually increase your hiking distance and pack weight to build endurance. Being physically prepared can make all the difference on the mountain.

Insufficient Food and Water Intake

At high altitudes, your body burns calories and uses water at an accelerated rate. Proper nutrition and hydration are vital. Many climbers struggle to eat and drink enough, especially as altitude increases and appetite decreases. Our guides will continually encourage you to consume enough food and water, even when you don’t feel like it. Bringing electrolyte powders can also aid in recovery and hydration.

Injuries and Illnesses

Evacuation on Kilimanjaro
Stretchers are run up the mountain by porters

Long treks over rough terrain can lead to injuries like twisted ankles, blisters, or joint pain. Each of these can derail your climb. Preventative measures, such as wearing high boots for ankle support, using trekking poles, and carrying a blister kit, are essential.

Furthermore, maintaining good hygiene can prevent stomach illnesses. it is a common issue on the mountain and traveling in general. Always wash your hands or use sanitizer after using the toilet and before meals.

Mental Resilience

The Kissing Rock on the Baranco Wall
The Kissing Rock on the Barranco Wall

Mental resilience is as crucial as physical preparation when it comes to conquering Kilimanjaro. The mental challenge of enduring long, strenuous days, coping with discomfort, and pushing through moments of doubt can be overwhelming. Summit day, in particular, tests climbers’ mental strength, with its early start, cold, darkness, and fatigue. Developing mental toughness involves setting realistic goals, maintaining a positive attitude, and finding motivation to keep going despite the difficulties. Climbers who cultivate mental resilience are better equipped to handle the psychological demands of the trek and are more likely to reach the summit.


Having the right gear is crucial for a successful Kilimanjaro climb. Inadequate equipment can lead to discomfort, increased risk of injury, and an overall tougher experience. Essential items include proper clothing for various climate zones, sturdy hiking boots, quality sleeping bags, and reliable trekking poles. At the trip briefing our team will ensure you have all the gear you need.

Altitude Sickness

Pulse oximeter
A Pulse Oximeter measures your blood oxygen saturation

The number one reason people do not make the summit is not acclimating well enough as they ascend the mountain. Altitude sickness is the leading cause of summit failures on Kilimanjaro. As climbers ascend, they often experience symptoms like headaches, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. While mild symptoms are common, severe altitude sickness can be dangerous and force climbers to descend.

Choosing longer routes, such as the 8-day Lemosho or 9-day Northern Circuit Routes, can provide additional acclimatization time. This will significantly boost your chances of success.

Utilizing an ALTOX Personal Oxygen Systems, pre-acclimatization training, and medications like Diamox can also help.

Our experienced, medically trained guides are adept at recognizing and managing altitude sickness, ensuring a safer climb.

summit night
What the first part of Summit Night looks like

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, a successful Kilimanjaro climb requires preparation, the right gear, and expert guidance. By choosing a reputable company with experienced guides, like Kilimanjaro Sunrise, you can significantly increase your chances of reaching the summit safely.

Listen to this Post

Are you ready to book your trip of a lifetime?

Recommended Posts