*Authors note: This article has not be written by an accomplished climber, just a lady who faces the ascent with trepidation and complete giddiness.
After a hard week, I always know that I can count on my girl friends to cheer me up at any point, added to the fact that it is Thursday and the weekend is a mere 9 hours away is an added bonus.
This morning on the way to work I decided that I was keen to go out for a few toots with my mates and quickly started contacting a few ladies via Whatsapp, I had left it a little bit late and most of them had plans but I was invited to join them instead. One of my mates said that they were going to celebrate on her work colleagues successful ascent of Kilimanjaro a few weeks ago and the Whatsapp conversation immediately turned from a dinner invitation to a plan for us girls to climb Kilimanjaro as a girls holiday….. holy moly how the hell did that happen, and in a space of 5 minutes no less.
A few minutes later one of the other girls mentioned that she had climbed a mountain in the UAE area a few weeks ago but we quickly discovered that it was all a rues to climb the mountain of a certain man in her life.
So the Google freak that I am, I decided to go and do a bit of research on the preparation required to actually get to the top of the highest peak in Africa, I mean how hard can it really be? Well apparently it is soul destroyingly hard!
The one website is quoted saying “While we are often told by those who have climbed with us – including professional athletes – that they underestimated how difficult it would be to climb Kilimanjaro and that it turned out to be one of the hardest things they had ever done in their lives, in spite of this, almost anyone who is willing to train two or three times a week for three months, and who is strongly self-motivated and does not give up easily when faced with hardship and mental and physical discomfort, would be expected to reach the summit, Uhuru Peak.” http://www.teamkilimanjaro.com/
Apparently people out themselves through this for fun. And apparently I might be one of those people, although my husband thinks that I might be losing my mind. So given that I’m not going to be allowed to climb the mountain in the next 6 months due to my knee I have plenty of training to do and here is the 10 step program that is going to get us to Uhuru Peak (and no, one of those is not getting my head checked, I did that last week and Im fine… apparently):
1. Choose the best Kilimanjaro Operator for the climb
This entails sifting through the hundreds of operators in Tanzania to chose who you think is going to do their best to get you up that mountain, don’t go for the cheapest option because, well you might die, and I’m quite keen to actually make it to the top and back down again semi in one piece. Book in advance as well, seriously who arrives in Tanzania and decides, “ooh I want to climb THAT mountain!” Well apparently there are a few people that do and I’m sure that there are still operators that can arrange to accommodate you. Don’t forget that its not an afternoon stroll in your neighborhood park, its 6 days up a frikken mountain, you are going to be hungry, cold and sore! You want to be sure that the operator that you choose has all those things to make your trip as comfortable as possible. The small things in life are going to become rather important to you when you realize that you might not have them again.
2. Be realistic
While I sure that there are strapping young lads out there who dream of climbing Kilimanjaro single handedly wearing a blind fold, I know I’m not one of those. I’m going to need all the support that I can get, and there had better be good quality gear as well, None of this “Oh the last guy that used this rope slipped and fell and we never saw him again” nonsense. And an en suite bathroom wouldn’t go a miss.
3. Don’t Climb during Winter?
Apparently not, the only time we need to be aware of are the two rainy seasons but the seasons should not effect the time of the year that we climb, I vote of August, purely because I want to get away from the heat of Dubai!
4. Finding a place to sleep.
There are a few accommodation options for the climbers before and after the climb but apparently they book up very quickly so it is advised to book as early as possible. Best I get Googling again.
Book now, don’t wait, do it, do it, do it!
6. Choosing a route up the mountain.
There are only 6 sanctioned routes up Kilimanjaro, if none of these are to your taste, tough just choose one! Actually according to one of the operators there is actually on 6 places that you can start your ascent and once you get past a certain place there are actually quite a few paths to choose from but there is only a few correct routes that you may descend from.
7. Committing to a training Program
A training program is recommended for two reasons. 1. you don’t die and 2. if you don’t die you can enjoy yourself more.
8. Get your Visa in Advance
Although there is a on arrival policy, apparently this can be an the discretion of the visa officer at the time. There have been a number of instances of the last year where people travelling from the Middle East with Arabic sounding names have been denied their visa.
9. Buying Equipment (one on my favorite parts)
If you are anything like me then the first thing that you are going to do is go buy all the necessary equipment and then arrive to realize that you didn’t actually need it the first place. Discuss with the operator (see Number 1) the possibility on sending you a packing list which will tell you everything that you need to buy.
10. Your Sense of Adventure
Forget the possibility of Mountain Sickness, oh wait I didn’t mentioned that little nugget didn’t I? “Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity about the third day. The symptoms of mild AMS are headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise. Symptoms tend to be especially bad at night when respiratory drive is decreased.” Despite my trepidation regarding this trip, I am truly excited at the possibility of scaling the highest mountain in Africa.
There are so many stories, thousands of myths and legends are told about the mountain. According to the locals there are pygmies said to be no larger than human children, and who dwelt on the mountain’s caves and ravines.
The Maasai refer to Kilimanjaro as ol doinyo naibor, “the white mountain” or ngaje ngai, “the house of God.” They believed Kilimanjaro was protected by evil spirits who would freeze anyone who attempted to ascend it. Hopefully we wont lose a toe or three in the process, but Im really looking forward to our journey up Kilimanjaro.