The North Face team have begun their ascent! Reaching Umbwe Gate at 12 noon today, they are now trekking through the forested slopes to Umbwe Cave Camp, at 2,850ms:
Group leader Wayne Hoyle has sent us an audio diary from the gate:
Even the first day on Kilimanjaro can be tough. It is humid in the rainforest, and the climbers will start to feel the effects of altitude as they reach camp this evening.
Yet the trail is beautiful. They will see endemic plants such as Kilimanjaro Impatiens and the more common Gladioli Watsonis and Old Mans Beard.
Tomorrow, expect the first dramatic views from Umbwe Route up to the summit of Kilimanjaro.