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Stella Point on Mount Kilimanjaro

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In this article, we will explore one of the key summits or waypoints on Mount Kilimanjaro–Stella Point.

KEY FACTS
Stella Point is one of the three main summits of Kilimanjaro. The other two are Uhuru Peak and Gilman's Point. Reaching any of them earns you a certificate of "conquering" the highest mountain in Africa.
The current elevation of Stella Point is 5,756 meters (18,885 ft) above sea level.
Stella Point was named after a woman who reached this point in 1925. Her name was Estella Latham.

What is Stella Point, Kilimanjaro?

Mount Kilimanjaro has three official summit points marking the elevations reached by climbers. During a Mt Kilimanjaro climb, travelers make stops to rest, enjoy the magnificent views, and receive instructions from guides about the next stage of their journey up the mountain. Stella Point is one such place. Here, climbers are greeted by the first rays of the morning sun.

Stella Point represents the highest point on the edge of the Kibo crater between the Lemosho and Marangu routes. Before heading to Kilimanjaro's highest summit, Uhuru Peak, reaching Stella Point is the final summit point for climbers. From here, it is about an hour hike to Uhuru.

Incidentally, there is a difference of 11 meters (36 ft) in height between the historical mark and the place where the sign is now installed.

How high is Stella Point, Kilimanjaro?

The stand installed on the trail to Uhuru Peak indicates an altitude of 5,756 meters (18,885 feet) above sea level. This is the official altitude of this key point.

The sign is located where the Lemosho route first reaches the edge of the Kibo crater. However, the peak of the rocky summit known as the historic Stella Point is located slightly lower, at an elevation of 5,745 meters (18,848 ft). Kingsley Latham first detailed this location in 1925 during an expedition on Kilimanjaro.

Where is Kilimanjaro Stella Point located?

This location, not the historical point, is where you'll find the 'Congratulations. You are now at Stella Point' sign today. Kilimanjaro climbers today pass Stella Point on their quest to climb Kilimanjaro.

Kilimanjaro's three summit points: Stella Point, Gilman's Point, Uhuru Peak

The key elevations on Mount Kilimanjaro are three points, reaching which you can receive an official Kilimanjaro climbing certificate for completing the climb on Africa's highest mountain. Besides Stella Point, these are Gilman's Point, located lower to the side, and Uhuru Peak.

Is Stella Point the highest point on Kilimanjaro? No, it is below Uhuru Peak, which stands at 5,895 meters (19,341 ft). By the way, after the Latham expedition, it was thought for some time that Stella Point might be the highest point on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Gilman's Point is even lower — 5,685 meters (18,652 ft). So why is a certificate issued after reaching any of these three peaks?

The famous African mountain is not a classic pyramid with one peak but a massif of three volcanoes. All three mentioned points are located along the crater rim of the highest volcano crater of Kilimanjaro — Kibo. Technically, they are all equivalent peaks of the mountain. Reaching the Kibo crater, the climber is on the "roof of Africa." Which elevation to stand on to document this achievement doesn't matter much. The Kilimanjaro National Park administration will issue an official certificate to anyone who reaches the signs at Gilman's Point, Stella Point, or Uhuru.

Why do some people decide to end their climb at Stella Point and not go to Uhuru Peak?

Some feel tired and apathetic after a multi-day expedition, while others are so exhausted by the effects of altitude sickness that they physically cannot continue the ascent. This is precisely what happened with the group whose expedition put Stella Point on the maps. We'll tell you more about what happened then below.

Additionally, sometimes there are objective reasons to end the expedition here. For example, in April-May 2018, so much snow fell on Kilimanjaro that it was physically impossible to go from Stella Point to Uhuru. All expeditions had to finish at the sign with an elevation of 5,756 meters (18,885 ft). Only after the mountain team of Altezza Travel cleared the path to Uhuru, could expeditions again end at Kilimanjaro's highest point.

Even though the glaciers on Kilimanjaro are gradually disappearing and less snow is falling, sometimes there is still severe weather at the summit. Blizzards and snowstorms can disrupt climbers' plans.

Why is it called Stella Point?

In July 1925, the Latham couple, with a guide, cook, and several porters, went on an expedition to Kilimanjaro. At that time, the number of expeditions to Africa's highest mountain was small, and the summit had only been reached five times.

Kingsley Latham worked as a civil servant in the Department of Agriculture of Tanganyika, the British colony that later became independent Tanzania. He was a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa, had trekking experience, and was excited about climbing Kilimanjaro. His wife, Estella Latham, who preferred to be called Stella, agreed to join the adventure, although she was frightened by the upcoming challenges. We know the story of this expedition thanks to her diary.

Stella Latham was afraid of ascending the dangerous mountain, afraid of being trapped in snow and ice, which at that time was much more abundant on Kibo. They were constantly discouraged from this endeavor, and she had to hide the fact that she was also going to climb the mountain. At that time, women in mountain expeditions were a rarity, and no one believed in their success. When women did participate in climbs on Kilimanjaro, they were often not even mentioned in the journals of mountain clubs or in reports. However, we know that before Mrs. Latham, at least two women likely reached the Kibo crater. They were Gertrude Emily Benham and Clary Ruckteschell-Truëb.

The Latham couple had to start the ascent bypassing the Marangu route due to a smallpox outbreak in the starting area. At that time, Marangu was the only equipped route on Kilimanjaro, with huts already built for rare travelers. The expedition initially went well, but at heights where almost no vegetation exists and only a stony desert landscapes, both began to suffer from altitude sickness: headaches, weakness, and fatigue. The cold at high altitudes penetrated to the bones, preventing them from recovering. Expeditions a hundred years ago were not frequent and professional, and the equipment was very simple. For example, one of the porters was wearing sandals on bare feet.

On July 13, 1925, Kingsley and Stella Latham, accompanied by two local residents, Philipos and Sambuananga, reached the edge of the Kibo crater. By this time, they were exhausted, having turned in the wrong direction and worn themselves out. Kingsley Latham became ill and began to have difficulty breathing. It was clear they could not go any further. However, the couple, leaving the porters waiting at the rest stop, tried to advance along the snow-covered edge to an elevation ahead, also covered in snow. It appeared to them to be the highest point. Halfway, it was decided to turn back as Kingsley Latham felt very unwell.

At this moment, the climbers were at the base of a small rock. With their last strength, they climbed it, made a brief note about the end of their expedition, placed the paper in a glass jar, and began their descent. In this note, Kingsley Latham proposed naming the place Stella Point in honor of his wife, provided this point did not already have a name. He did this, justly paying tribute to his wife. Not only had she become one of the first women to reach the main crater of Kilimanjaro, but she was also full of energy. She could have reached the highest peak but did not leave her husband, who was suffering from altitude sickness. Stella Latham helped him descend. The expedition ended safely.

Many years later, in 1937, Kingsley Latham would return to Kilimanjaro, this time without his wife, to attempt the climb again. He would again be unsuccessful. At high altitude, he would lose consciousness, fall, and suffer memory loss. It would take many years for him to overcome the effects of amnesia and relearn reading, writing, and correctly naming objects. Stella Latham would never return to Kilimanjaro and would ask her children to promise not to climb the mountain. When her husband recovered from his illness, they would return from Europe to Africa, settle in Zimbabwe, and become successful coffee farmers.

How to reach Stella Point, Kilimanjaro?

Embark on a journey to Tanzania with a Kilimanjaro expedition guided by Altezza Travel. Select from a variety of routes, each will bring you not only to Stella Point but also to the highest summit of Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Peak. For optimal altitude acclimatization and a more fulfilling experience, we recommend choosing expeditions that span 7 or 8 days. Take your time to ascend, avoiding the common pitfalls experienced by past climbers.

Contact us through our website and gear up for an unforgettable adventure with Altezza Travel! Our expertise goes beyond narrating the history of Kilimanjaro; we excel in crafting expeditions that are not only safe but also exceptionally comfortable.

Published on 3 July 2024 Revised on 12 July 2024
About this article
Dmitriy Andreichuk
Expert Articles: 21
Written byDmitriy Andreichuk
Travel Expert Tanzania
Expertise:
Climbing Climbing
History History
Tanzania Tanzania
Education: University of Architecture and Arts

Dmitry, born in Ukraine, has been living in Tanzania since 2014. Besides his extensive personal climbing experience on Kilimanjaro and other Tanzanian volcanoes, he has organized high-profile expeditions for RedBull, Wings of Kilimanjaro, Nimsdai, and other renowned athletes and organizations. His role encompasses all operational aspects of expeditions, including briefings, training mountain crews, designing safety protocols, and more.

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