Mount Kilimanjaro

Posted on June 25, 2015

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Mount Kilimanjaro is Africa’s highest peak (5895m). It is an ice-capped dormant volcano and I have signed up to hike it starting on Saturday.
   
 
My Irish friend BQ is flying into Tanzania today to join me. She is a personal trainer in her spare time and is also half fish. So post Kilimanjaro the third leg of my adventure will involve diving the Zanzibar archipelago including the Pemba Channel with BQ for another week.

  

It was never my intention to climb this beast. When I starting plotting Tanzania it was all about safari and seeing the Ngoronogoro Crater. But I found myself thinking, why not?! By January my best mate had bought me a guide book on it for my birthday. She did it in 1999 and I remember vividly the training she put in. I have not done any extra training, so I am hoping i’ll be ok. I’d like to think I am relatively fit as I exercise 5 times a week. But you never know.

When I came back from Hawaii I started my research in April and in less than four weeks I had planned all three legs with three different tour groups. The days in between I have busked with the help of the Rough Guide and common sense.

My backpack looks like I have a small African child hidden inside. The main reason is layers. My Tanzanian guides have all joked, “Asha have you moved to Africa?!”

I hate the cold. I have awful blood circulation and most of my friends wonder whether I am actually alive because I can at times be icy to the touch. 

I also have a small pharmacy with me – packets and packets of wet wipes (I’ll be the sweetest smelling hiker around), rehydration sachets, altitude sickness tablets (diamox), Ibuprofen tablets, Imodium, Allergy tablets, lemsip sachets, anti-heartburn tablets and liquid, Berroca (for Vit C), antiseptic foot-spray and talc – all just in case – I’ve not used any of them so far. And as is usually the case, I will probably end up giving it all away to a clinic.

Then there’s my “mountain” food. I hear you can lose your appetite up there, so liquid is the way forward for me. I went into Itsu (Japanese fast-food chain) and bought 15 sachets of Miso paste (just add water). I have packets of glass noodles and also sachets of green superfood blends which you add water to. I will force myself to eat to maintain my health. Quick Oats for the morning. I have ginger chews and sesame sticks for energy and Hawaiian sea salt to add to my water to put back sodium I am losing.

I have so many merino wool undergarments I could open my own store now! I’ve invested in a Antarctic sleeping bag (-50C) from an army outlet and have two Down jackets, a massive one to sleep in and a smaller one for day wear. Don’t laugh but I also have hand warmers (you break them and they stay hot for 4 hours), two pairs of gloves of different thickness, a wooly hat, sunglasses, my She-wee and a hot water bottle!! 

I’m fully aware I am not a spring chicken and my knees always give me problems when descending climbs that are steep so I also bought some Black Diamond Mountain Poles. Again another investment purchase!

All of this was bought in the space of a week, if anything I think I am rather over prepared and the porters will think I am crazy (no change there). Mind you they’ve probably seen it all before and much more. The drum I made, I have decided to leave in Arusha. The porters don’t need additional unnecessary weight.

   
 
BQ and I agreed that we would do the Lemosho Route which goes from the West through some spectacular forest and is not as busy as some of the other better known paths. You also get amazing views of Amboseli National Park which lies in the Rift Valley of Kenya. We decided not to join a group but stay as a pair and we have planned a seven day hike. The longer you spend on the mountain the better the success rate as you acclimatise. We’ve also agreed to summit at night during a “predicted” full moon so we reach the top at day break and then visit the crater. Many people miss out the crater as they are too tired and it adds another two hours to the climb down, but if we’ve made it that far, I think it has to be done. We are camping the whole way, no huts. 

  
It’s a challenge I never thought I’d ever see myself sign up for. I hear in some spots you can actually get a mobile phone signal. I’ve briefed my parents that if I call them in tears, not to panic, it’s because I’ve made it. So providing altitude sickness doesn’t get the better of me, I think I’m about as ready as I will ever be to climb to the top of Africa’s roof.

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