North Face

This unique and rarely-trodden route ascends Kilimanjaro via its north flank. It was first climbed, privately, in June 1999 by Julius Minga and our very own Jeremy Gane. Since then it has only been climbed on a handful of occasions by other private climbing parties, until being opened as a commercial route in 2017. The route is currently offered exclusively by Gane and Marshall.

The climb can start with either Umbwe, Lemosho or Shira route as you approach the northern face of Kilimanjaro via Moir Hut and the Lent Group. You then cross Kibo’s crater from north to south, on a route taken by very few others. Descent is via the standard Mweka Route.

Given the requirement for a high altitude bivouac and a full crossing of the Crater this is one of the toughest programmes on Kilimanjaro.

What is the scenery like on the North Face Route?
Naturally the scenery varies depending on your chosen approach route. Typically this will include the rich Lemosho forest and the Shira Plateau. Then, as the climber moves around to the remote and rarely-visited north side of Kilimanjaro, the scenery becomes more arid and austere. Rock and scree characterise the climb to the high bivouac. The subsequent traversal of Kilimanjaro’s crater will take the climber to high altitude desert and ancient icefields.

The descent down Barfu Route to join with Mweka Route will be the classic south flank descent across beautiful alpine heath and through the Mweka rainforest.

How long is North Face Route?
Allow 8 or 9 days for a sensible acclimatisation profile.

How tough is North Face Route?
Given the requirement for a high altitude bivouac and a full crossing of the crater, the North Face route is undoubtedly one of the toughest programmes on Kilimanjaro. There is some scrambling as the trail leaves the northern circuit and climbs steeply up to the crater rim, though no technical climbing.

When is the best time to climb?
See our Kilimanjaro seasons page for advice on the best times of year to climb.

What is the accommodation like?
Tented. The camps on the route do not have huts. The bivouac up near the crater rim is for seasoned trekkers only!

Who should choose the North Face Route?
This route is ideal for those who want a unique and adventurous climb with a mix of trekking and easy rock scrambling, and perhaps also for those summiting Kilimanjaro for a second time and wanting a different experience. It offers a chance to escape the crowds and see a different face of Kilimanjaro (literally!)

Note that the available options for commercial climbs on the North Face route are very limited. Gane and Marshall has had exclusive rights to run groups on the route in since early 2016, the first commercial climbs officially-sanctioned by the Kilimanjaro Park authorities. It’s not clear whether the route will become an established route going forward (though with increasing crowding on the more popular routes, it seems likely)

Do you offer open groups on North Face Route?
Yes, we now offer infrequent open groups on the North Face. Please visit the North Face itinerary page on the Gane and Marshall website, via the link at the foot of this page, for more details.

Kilimanjaro North Face climbs – with Gane and Marshall
Gane and Marshall organised the first commercial climb on the North Face (or North Flank) route in 2017, led by Jeremy Gane, Alan Chambers MBE and Wayne Hoyle.

Since then we have organised a number of small climbing parties, with up to two open groups available each year. This is a great way to escape the crowds and see a different face of Kilimanjaro, as one of the first people to climb this brand new climbing route! The North Face route is also open to private groups.

For more information and details on signing up, see our Kilimanjaro North Face itinerary (hosted on the Gane and Marshall website).