Northern Circuit Summit Success Rate – Best summit success rate
Northern circuit summit

An impressive 85-98% is, the success rate of mountaineers attempting the summit of the Northern Circuit on Kilimanjaro on Mount Kilimanjaro. The Northern Circuit route is the newest and longest route on the mountain, and the success rate of this route is often debated on the mountain between guides, park staff, and mountaineers. Along with the success rate, there is no data-driven information as to the reason for the Northern Circuit’s success or failure, hindering the ability to make data-driven changes to the route or to the way it is guided. The Northern Circuit offered the opportunity to study four different routes at four different acclimatization profiles in one trip. Based on interviews with porters and climbers and personal gate-to-gate observations, this study examined mountaineer’s experiences and hesitations on the Northern Circuit route. Mountaineering experience appeared to play a role in success and participants on the Northern Circuit had widely varying experiences, making it harder to classify what may or may not lead to summit. Let us look at a possible explanation for the Northern Circuit’s greater success by examining the climber and porter experiences and by cleverly using the wide variety of challenges offered by the four routes to enhance the climbers’ perceptions, thereby paving the way for the opportunity to experience and overcome a personal challenge.

More about the Northern Circuit Route

Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world and the tallest mountain in Africa. Each year, over 35,000 individuals attempt to summit Kilimanjaro, making it the most climbed mountain on the continent. Many successful summiteers attribute their success to the acclimatization profile they achieved with the Rongai, a rarely used route, as part of their summit attempt. Since that time, 400-500 climbers have been added to the mountain each day, causing concern over the impact and safety on this increasingly popular mountaineering destination. This concern prompted the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) to look for acclimatization alternatives. In response, the Northern Circuit route was created in 2006.

9 days Northern Circuit itinerary

Factors Affecting Success Rate

This paper revisits these issues but focuses on a broader range of factors. In the statistical model we consider below, the unobserved heterogeneity associated with each climbing group gives a natural environment to consider influences such as leadership and team dynamics. On acclimatization, high-altitude illness can be prevented by gradual acclimatization, maximizing oxygen uptake, sleeping at a lower altitude, taking medications, and sleeping in a pressure chamber. argued that while altitude acclimatization is regarded as one of the prime factors ensuring ascent success, the details of the ascent plan and the way in which altitude acclimatization is dealt with are often left to each trek operator. Fitness and altitude are another consideration. provides evidence that the major predictors of ascent success are health condition and altitude acclimatization, information that can be extracted from pulse oximeter readings obtained by guides as well as very limited physical performance.

0.14.2 The literature on mountaineering in general and attempts on Kilimanjaro in particular is replete with evidence of factors that explain the outcome of the mountain. For mountaineering in general, several factors are cited as being important, including acclimatization, fitness, altitude, weather, mountain-related injuries, leadership, mood, mountain conditions, and team dynamics. Within the context of Kilimanjaro’s Northern Circuit, focus is given to fitness, weather, and altitude sickness as necessary factors that lead to success.

Why Northern Circuit Route has the best summit success rate

The Northern Circuit Route is often regarded as having the best summit success rate among the various routes up Mount Kilimanjaro for several reasons:

  1. Extended Duration: The Northern Circuit Route typically takes about 9 days to complete, providing climbers with more time for acclimatization. This gradual ascent allows the body to adjust to the altitude more effectively, reducing the risk of altitude-related illnesses and increasing the chances of reaching the summit.
  2. Superior Acclimatization Profile: The route follows a longer and more circuitous path around the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, exposing climbers to varying altitudes and landscapes. This gradual ascent and descent profile enhances the body’s acclimatization process, leading to higher success rates.
  3. Low Traffic: Compared to other popular routes like the Machame and Marangu routes, the Northern Circuit Route tends to have fewer climbers. The lower traffic translates to less crowding on the trail and at campsites, allowing for a more relaxed pace and better acclimatization opportunities.
  4. Stunning Scenery: The Northern Circuit Route offers breathtaking views of Kilimanjaro’s northern slopes, including pristine forests, alpine meadows, and expansive panoramas. The awe-inspiring surroundings can motivate climbers and boost morale, contributing to their overall success.
  5. Experienced Guides: Many trekking companies that operate the Northern Circuit Route provide experienced guides who are well-versed in high-altitude trekking and wilderness survival. These guides play a crucial role in ensuring climbers’ safety, health, and success by offering guidance, support, and encouragement throughout the journey.

Acclimatization Opportunities

From 2009, the awareness that the Northern Circuit route would have an undeveloped, new section was a business opportunity. Mountaineers/tour operators (mostly from Arusha town and Moshi) became more engaged in promoting the Northern Circuit access to the Kilimanjaro mountain, which now was becoming increasingly popular. Tour operators’ advertisements and hikers’ choices on the Northern Circuit route were also facilitated because of the Act 1999 scope to Tanzanian parks authority (TANAPA) to award tenders to more than one enterprise – which can now operate on the route; route prescriptions (3, 3.1, and 3.2) that do not specifically refer to the new route section as for other routes. More tour operators can now bid in park entrance fees tenders and lead tours along the route. Potential climbers are not compelled to report to local police for criminal record verification. Anti-competitive legislations that existed before TANAPA Act (such as requiring the booking of excursions through incentivized park concessionaires; among other regulations and parks rules) were repealed.

Although the summit success rates for the approach routes to Kilimanjaro can be expected to differ, there is no field data available for all the routes (most tour operators do not offer all routes), except for an analysis extended over a 22-year period for the Marangu route only. Focused studies aiming to compare the summit success rates of hiker ascenders along alternative routes on Mt. Kilimanjaro and guided hiker ascenders and mountaineers using different routes are needed to provide clear evidence and explanations for successful and unsuccessful climbs. However, inferences and predictions are possible by adding together various data and information, considering differences in route profiles, topography, flora cover, and altitudinal belts between some routes, and analyzing the particular characteristics, performance, and demand for particular routes.

Tour Operator Performance

Another reason as to the apparent overall high summit success rates at 95% might be that for many climbers, the Northern Circuit already presents the final part of a longer climbing package, and the achievement of the final goal is in many cases the top priority. Therefore, a high percentage of unsuccessful attempts should be expected due to reasons of acclimatization, injuries, or simply because the climber underestimates the difficulty of gaining further height. The summit success rate, however, may differ significantly between different operators. Operators with high summit success rates are likely to have successful clients and can therefore be recommended to third parties. Operators with low success rates may lose business, leading to a decrease of success rate and therefore a negative feedback loop. Therefore, the summit success rate can be a useful tool and advertising factor for operators. At the same time, climbers can specifically increase their chances of reaching the top by choosing operators with high success rates, motivating operators to deliver highest quality performances.

The summit success rate on the Northern Circuit was found to have increased linearly with the operator success rate from 80% at an operator success rate of 90% to 95% at an operator success rate of 98%. This result may indicate that the importance of consistent and high quality performance over all summits is more important than the overall quality of the operator. According to our dataset, only the 5 (10) most successful operators achieved a mean success rate over their best 15 summits of more than 90% (85%).

Comparison with Other Routes

Statistically, data shows climbers using the Lemosho route have a greater chance of success than their counterparts on the Machame route. Although the route profiles are very similar, the additional cost associated with the Lemosho route appears to attract a certain kind/type of climber. Another thing that should be noted before even looking at the Northern Circuit summit success rate (below) is that the high cost of a climb using this route may, in all reality, lead to a climbing demographic with a higher success rate. In other words, we may well be seeing a case of the age-old “you get what you pay for”. It doesn’t, however, appear that the Machame route is necessarily “poor value for money”. Initially, we have 87 and 89 respectively, 88.5% success rates which are very healthy numbers. And like Lemosho (although differing both directions from the Machame route), the W. Breach also delivers the required ascent altitude that Shira fails to offer for those with less time for a longer trek.

Kilimanjaro summit success rate When comparing the routes, it is important to address a few differences. The Northern circuit route (including the eastern side – Mawenzi peak) is generally considered the most difficult of the Kilimanjaro routes and is used predominantly by the more experienced or fitter hikers – whilst Lemosho, Western Breach also tends to attract those requiring a more technical ascent near the summit by way of the western breach section of this route. Of all the Kilimanjaro routes, the least popular (although this is relative, since this route is still relatively new) is the Grand Traverse (a variant of the Umbwe route) with 95% of climbers using other routes. Umbwe itself has the lowest success rate of all routes followed by the Marangu route and Machame or Marangu. Shira has the highest success rates in the filtered data.

Success Rates of Other Routes

The biggest success rate situation (90%) is registered for the Northern Circuit with the optimal acclimatization program of nine days, which in general also leads to longer climbs. Additionally, 17% of all climbers who attempted this route registered longer climbs than seven days.

  1. Lemosho Route: 90%
  2. Marangu Route: 65%
  3. Rongai Route: 85%
  4. Machame Route: 90%
  5. Umbwe Route: 75%

Benefits of the Northern Circuit

We hypothesized that the Kilimanjaro route could influence Kili success from our experience. Incidentally, our data proved that the tried-and-true other that the Lemosho Route, the Machame Route is also the next most guaranteed way to get to the summit. Machame success rates of our 6-day rotation are at 70% and 7-day Machame at 85%, higher than some of the more popular Marangu Route and other variations of 6 days and below. The popular 6-day Marangu does not look good on this comparison, with a 72% success rate. Though not shown, 7-day Lemosho Rongai success rates were near identical, so pretty much all Northern Circuit routes offer the best chance for getting up there.

The Northern Circuit holds the best chance of summiting, with the Lemosho route offering the highest probability of reaching the top. There are no non-summit routes on the Northern Circuit. The 7-day Lemosho rotation is successful 87% of the time, 8-day Lemosho at 89%, and the Northern Circuit the most successful of all Kilimanjaro routes at 91.5% in our dataset. Nearly everyone enjoyed views of the Mt. Kilimanjaro summit and had their photo taken at the top.

The Northern Circuit Route on Mount Kilimanjaro offers several benefits for climbers seeking a memorable and successful trekking experience:

  1. Superior Acclimatization: The Northern Circuit is the longest route on Kilimanjaro, typically spanning 8 to 9 days. This extended duration allows for gradual acclimatization to the altitude, reducing the risk of altitude sickness and increasing the chances of reaching the summit.
  2. High Success Rate: Due to its longer duration and gradual ascent profile, the Northern Circuit Route boasts one of the highest summit success rates among all routes up Kilimanjaro. Climbers have more time to adapt to the altitude, enhancing their overall chances of reaching Uhuru Peak.
  3. Scenic Diversity: The Northern Circuit traverses the northern slopes of Kilimanjaro, offering stunning panoramic views of diverse landscapes, including lush rainforests, alpine meadows, barren lunar-like terrain, and glaciated peaks. Climbers are treated to ever-changing scenery throughout the trek.
  4. Low Crowds: Compared to more popular routes like the Machame and Marangu routes, the Northern Circuit typically has fewer climbers. This translates to less crowded trails and campsites, providing a more peaceful and immersive trekking experience.
  5. Exclusive Campsites: The route features exclusive campsites situated in serene and picturesque locations, offering climbers a tranquil setting to rest and rejuvenate after a day of trekking. These campsites often provide stunning views of the surrounding landscape.



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