Wednesday, 13 March 2019 20:36

Conquering Kilimanjaro, The Kit, The Climb, The Challenge

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Introduction

We all have our mountains to climb. Some are metaphorical obstacles carved into blockades while others are literal mountains. Twice in the last decade, a group of British celebrities have taken on the challenge of climbing to the highest point in Africa and conquering Kilimanjaro in order to raise money for Comic Relief.

With #returntokili trending on Social Media in the last month, the coverage of the event has been different from the previous attempt in 2009 with the public able to witness the highs (no pun intended) and lows of the trip to the eventual summit; with the added aim of inspiring others to take on similar challenges. But if you want to tread in the footsteps of the team, there are a few things to consider before tackling the mountain.

Practice

It’s true that Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain but you are climbing to the highest point in Africa and the highest free-standing summit in the world so it will take a lot of work. The more practice of hiking that you can get in before you go, the better prepared you and your kit will be. It is especially important to break in your waterproof hiking boots before you fly to Tanzania to avoid blisters and discomfort as much as possible. Build up your tolerance levels with longer and steeper hikes as you progress, with some training at altitude the best approach to get you ready for the main event.

Image from Instagram (profile mrdanwalker)

Packing

One of the key considerations is what to take with you, especially if you have limited experience in climbing mountains (which is most people). There are a number of articles which adequately cover this but when you get to the slope you will generally meet two types of trekkers; those who are unprepared and under-equipped and those who have bought every possible tool and gadget at great expense which they will not use and will have to carry there and back.

For a detailed list of things that you will need please check out our Kilimanjaro page but remember to consider weight. Will you use it? If not then forget it! Can you get a small, lightweight version of everything you need? If so, then get it! The mountain will be hard enough without carrying extra kilos. With that in mind, your pack should split into the following:

  • Clothes (including headgear and footwear)
  • Bags
  • Sleeping Accessories
  • General Accessories and technology
  • The right paperwork (but we'll sort all of that out with you)

There are those who write that you can always buy items that you have forgotten from one of the street sellers in the area but we’d rather that you are prepared. Make sure that you get the highest quality kit to help you and avoid the street sellers. They will make sure to overcharge you as they know that you need what they are selling. We will be sure to check and double check your list before you depart so you know that you have everything you need.

Acclimatise

When you book with us, it might be tempting to insist on a gruelling 5-day trek, try to race to the top and save yourself some time and money. However, we would always recommend that especially less-experienced climbers take their time and opt for a 7-day, 8-day or even a 9-day trek. For starters, you can enjoy the experience as you go (there are no prizes for finishing first) but you also statistically have a much better chance of reaching the top (85% for those taking 8 days as opposed to under 30% for 5-day routes). A couple of extra days will cost you far less than paying out for another attempt if you have to turn back. And the extra time will be forgotten when you are standing on top of Africa with the world spread out below you.

Each day will have a set distance to be covered but there is no need to race off and make the next camp before the sun has risen. You may hear the guides saying “Pole pole!” (so appropriate, they say it twice) or “slowly” as you acclimatise to the new heights, lessening your risk of getting sick and raising your chances of making it all the way.

Travel in a team

If you were to ask any of the Comic Relief team what more than anything else got them to the top of the mountain and then ask the same people what the best thing that they took from the experience; they will undoubtedly give their ‘team mates’ as answers for both questions. Travelling with a team, no matter how small, raises your spirits when things get hard, raising your chances to make it to the summit. The camaraderie of the shared experience will also bring you closer together and you will be able to take away the memories back into the world having achieved something together. Pick your team mates as people who you can stand to spend a week with and they will be instrumental in your success.

Photo from Instagram (account comicrelief)

Stay hydrated

It may sound strange for such an exertion but staying fed and hydrated can be difficult. Not because the supplies aren’t available but because people tend to lose their appetites at altitude. It’s important to take on little and often to give you that boost of energy and we recommend taking some of your favourite snacks to keep you interested. Remember to drink (we recommend taking at least 3 litres during each phase of the climb. Dehydration can increase your chances of headaches, Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), overall fatigue, and even your bad mood, so drink plenty of water (your body and your team mates will thank you for it).

We will support you

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a once-in-a-lifetime challenge and is definitely not a stroll in the park. We work closely with expert guides with decades of experience on the mountain to keep you safe and give you the best chance of reaching the summit. We are also on hand 24/7 should you need any assistance or just to stay in touch with the outside world. We at Archer & Gaher Adventures are committed to you not only succeeding in your personal challenge but ensuring that you make the greatest possible impact with your charitable efforts. Following the success of the Comic Relief team, for every client who tackles Kilimanjaro with us we are pledging to donate a percentage of your costs to Comic Relief as well as adding to your own charitable efforts with a donation of our own. We hope that this will help to boost your energy levels when on the mountain and can maximise the difference that you make to those in need. We wish you the best of luck with your challenge and can’t wait to be there to help you succeed.

Photo from Instagram (profile shirleyballas)

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