this is work in progress, pics to come!!
So, Kilimanjaro. Its a hill in Africa right? Well, its in Africa, thats for sure, Tanzania in fact. Its not quite a hill though! Our mini adventure started on the 18th of July 2013.
Yeah, Sure, Why Not
I suppose it actually started a bit earlier, when the suggestion was made by David that we actually take on the climb. After a few seconds consideration, and contemplation that Chris Moyles, Cheryl Cole and Fern Cotton had managed it for comic relief a couple of years earlier, i said “yeah, sure, why not!”. It wasn’t going to be for charity, just a private challenge. Five of us were in. Kili was on Dave’s bucket list but the driving force was Stuart Hogarth; it was going to be his 50th birthday. Stuart and Dave are neighbours. Me and Ed we’re tagging along in comparison. The fifth member was ‘Scottish’, as he became known, (as well as Kelvin). Kevin is a friend of Stuart, and would meet up with the group in Doha. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately (!), Stuart had what was thought to be a heart attack a couple of weeks before we were due to leave, so the 5 became 4. I say perhaps fortunately, as if stuarts heart situation arose on the side of Kili, we, but more importantly he, would have been right up shit creek. Anyway, i’m glad to report Stuart is alive and kicking. We were later to name our intrepid expedition team ‘Hogies Heros’
Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail
I cant remember exactly when i agreed to the madness, but it was several months ago. So plenty of time to train and get my kit together right?!! Hmmmm, i had everything covered in my mind, it just hadn’t physically happened until quite close to departure. Well come on, i’m running a business, i’m busy….!
Now i’m not stupid. Most items of equipment and clothing are important, but boots are perhaps the worst thing to get wrong or leave to the last minute. ‘Last Minute’ is a relative term!! About 3 weeks before we were due to leave for Tanzania I picked up a pair of solid, light, flexible Soloman trekking boots from the Reading Cotswold store for £155. Its worth spending some money in this department*. (*having said that, the footwear worn by most of the porters suggested otherwise, but more on those superheros later) I proceeded to wear the boots at every opportunity, including some client meetings!! Even if your not walking, just wearing them, with the heat of your feet, helps break them in, moulding to the shape of your feet etc. We (me and Mel) were fortunate enough to have a cheeky week in the Cyprus sun a couple of weeks before. While most were in flip-flops and sandals, my boots did an excellent job of keeping out the sun! To be honest, i was slightly worried i had actually left the footwear situation a little late, so i basically lived in them for 3 weeks, but i’m pleased to say it paid off. There were times coming down the mountain i had to double check i didn’t have my trainers on.
So with the most important bit of kit sorted, and having returned from Cyprus (where i did actually train a little bit), i returned to Cotswold’s to tick off the rest of the kit list. Now i’m sure i could have begged and borrowed a big chunk of it, but i didn’t want to be messing around with bits of kit that either didn’t fit properly, or didn’t quite work as they should. So i accepted i’d left it later than i probably should have, and just bought new. ‘Scottish’ will turn in his grave (when he dies) when he learns i must have spent just over £1100 on kit in one day, not including the boots. If you are considering climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, you may be vaguely interested in what i have to say about kit. If not, then read on.
My total kit list, starting from the head and finishing at the toe, consisted of the following:
Old Baseball cap
Cheap Sun Hat (bought at a tourist shop in Cyprus)
North Face wooly hat with hard peak (used on summit night only, got sweaty and froze solid)
Wrapround Sunglasses (standard pair, not expensive Oakley kind. Hardly used to be honest.)
SPF Lip seal (actually used this, more from a moisture perspective than sunblock)
Buff (used on summit night to cover up lower half of face. Good for dust on the way down)
2x long sleeve Helly Hanson base layers (worn every day, alternating)
Nike dri fit t-shirt (used for first 3 days)
North Face light hiking shirt (wore after day 3)
Mountain Hardware medium to heavy Fleece (good for the evening when in camp)
Medium fleece from Decathlon to sleep in.
North Face Insulation jacket no hood (summit night only)
North Face Hard shell jacket with hood (summit night only)
Talon 33 trekking day bag (used everyday to carry water, waterproofs, food, first aid, drugs, sweets, etc etc)
Sweat Wrist bands
Light weight gloves (not really used until summit night)
Heavier weight summit gloves (summit night only. I found with mine that the lining wasn’t fully fixed, so when i took them off (to get some immodium) the lining all came out. Putting them back on was a complete faff)
Regular cotton pants (wasn’t sure about what to wear under cycling shorts, but my trusted pants were fine)
Helly Hanson long johns (Summit Night only)
Mourino Wool Long Johns (to sleep in)
2x Cycling shorts (used everyday. Essential if remotely concerned about chaffing!)
Pair of basic footie shorts (used for first 3 days)
North Face light trekking trousers (used from day 4. never bothered undoing the lower leg bits to make them into shorts)
Scraggy pair of heavier trousers (summit night only)
2x knee straps
Calf compression socks
4 pairs of lining socks
2 pairs of trekking socks
1 pair of summit socks
Variety of Compeed patches
Soloman Trekking Boots
Sleeping Bag (kind of essential! My lower body never really got cold, but depending on how you sleep, if you need space to spread your arms, consider getting a wider bag, or just layer up and wear gloves)
Sleeping Bag Liner (not used)
Sleeping Mat (loved mine. i went for a blow up one, not a self inflating foam filling thing. i found the blow up version gave better ground clearance. I could sleep on my side without feeling any stones;) )
Camping Pillow (kind of useful although a rolled up fleece would do just a good a job, as i found out)
North Face 90l duffle bag (kind of essential)
Karrimore Dry Bags (a range of sizes to suit)
Small selection of carabina clips (came in very useful)
First Aid Kit
PeeWee (awesome. not having to get out of your tent int he middle of the night to take a wee. dont underestimate it!)
Handwarmers (were used, but not for hands! generally chucked to the bottom of the sleeping bag, 2 at a time, on colder nights)
2 Litre Camel Pack (you’re advised to drink 3 liters a day while trekking)
1 Litre Camel Pack (just water, no powders or other stuff)
50% Deet spray
Factor 50 Sun Cream
Energy sachets (added some flavour to the water if nothing else)
Mars and Snickers bars (didn’t touch them the whole trip)
Nuts and dried bananas (again, didn’t touch them)
Jelly Babies (ok, i touched these! but didn’t eat all of them)
Head Torch (plus a backup, not used on summit night as we had a full moon, but definitely came in handy at night in the tent)
Walking Poles (didn;t use until end of day 3. but couldn’t really imagine not having them. Really help)
altitude sickness drugs
Anti Chaffing cream
things i wish i took
something to wrap around the ends of my fingers. Plasters from the first aid kick were not hard wareing enough. Basically, going in and out of your bags to find stuff takes it toll on your fingers, particularly the wicks. I found that towards day 5, i was starting to catch them quite a lot on stuff. Whilst not the end of the world, it became annoying and slightly painful, in a papercut kind of way!
With all the kit sorted, i hoped, we set off on our travels. Traveling via Doha in Qatar, we were in for a 24hr door to door trip. Qatar Airways, i have to say, were excellent. I’m not the smallest of people, but i found the seat and leg room to be absolutely fine. Food and inflight entertainment were most welcome to. Apart from a slight delay on the way home, i cant fault them. We pre-booked the Oryx lounge at Doha airport as we were in for am 8 hour wait for our connection to Tanzania. It was a good move, with food and drink all included; although we travelled during Ramadan, so no alcohol. Oh well. Tried to sleep. Tried.
Mingling with the Locals
Eventually arrived in Kilimanjaro after a short stop in Da Salam to pick up some newbies. Plane was nearly empty though. We all had 3 seats to ourselves. Cant remember the last time that happened!! The heat getting off the plane hits you. Hot and dry. Doha was actually more intense. A lot hotter and a lot muggier, Kili was quite pleasant by comparison. We spent the rest of the day and the following day getting ourselves sorted, and drinking, at the hotel just outside of Moshi. We actually took a walk down into Moshi. Its not really your usual tourist town to be honest. Which is fine by me, but there we are, 4 painfully white, new booted, wicking top wearing tourists, with money in our pockets just begging to be mobbed by street traders. Saw thumb. Stuck Out. Like. Got quite awkward at one point so we decided to pick up the pace and stop the polite chatter, which always invariably resulted in an abrupt sales close. “so are you going to buy my picture, my brother is dieing” I dont like to be cynical, but these guys are not stupid, they know the streets, the tricks, and as nice as they are, i’m not going to be sucked into the process. And in any case, these wrist bands he ‘makes by hand’, at a rate of 4 a day, well, he does a flipping good job, as i’ve seen them in about 10 other shops and about 6 other people have tried to flog me one, all looking identical. We need to get out of here before we get lynched for not buying anything. At 25 dollars can you blame us. Yes yes, we played the barter game, if anything to try and play along. I blame Dave and his mission to find a flippin USB cable for his mini power station he planned on carrying to the top of Africa. We’re in Africa. We’re in Tanzania. We’re going to be climbing Kilimanjaro tomorrow. Time for a drink back at the hotel.
Onwards and Upwards
So, back to where i started all this, the morning of the 18th of July. The day we start our adventure. A mix of excitement, apprehension and of just wanting to get on with the damn thing filled all of us i think. Kit double checked and strapped to the top of the people carrier.