Monthly Archives: July 2015

8 facts I’ve learned about Mount Kilimanjaro

Over the last few months I’ve spent an awful lot of time browsing every corner of the internet for tips for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, blogs on other people’s experiences, and some very detailed packing lists. My head is now swimming with all sorts of facts, advice, tips and a few horror stories (mainly toilet related…) that I’m trying hard to forget.

Anyway, here are a few interesting facts I’ve learnt about Mount Kilimanjaro:

  • Kilimanjaro is a volcano. In fact, Kilimanjaro is three volcanoes; the three volcanic cones are Kibo, Mawenzi and Shira. Uhuru Peak is on the rim of the highest, Kibo, which is the only of the three that is dormant and not extinct, and technically could erupt again.
  • Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the highest freestanding mountain in the world.
  • It appears from the Internet that there is no consensus on the meaning of the name Kilimanjaro. The locals don’t actually have a name for the mountain as a whole, just for the peak at the top (I may find a different story when I get there, who knows).
  • Uhuru means Freedom in Swahili.
  • There are seven different trekking routes. The one I will be trekking up is the Machame Route, which is nicknamed “the whiskey route” though I can’t quite work out why…
  • The record for the fastest ascent and descent is currently held by Karl Egloff who ran up and down the mountain in a ridiculous 6 hours, 42 minutes and 24 seconds in September 2014. There’s also a very good video on YouTube of the previous record holder, Kilian Jornet, setting his record in 2010.
  • The rainfall and snowfall on Kilimanjaro is reducing over time, which has caused the glaciers to shrink by 80% between 1912 and 2011 (not  global warming’s fault).
  • In 1889, Hans Meyer and Ludwig Purtscheller were the first to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. (I am slightly sceptical about this last fact as I imagine that at some point since time began, some locals may have climbed the mountain, but let’s go with “first recorded summit”).

Climbing Kilimanjaro: a bit more about the plan

With less than 2 months to go (!) until I fly to Africa to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I thought I’d share a bit more about the details of the trip.

I decided to go with Discover Adventure on the recommendation of Parkinson’s UK as they had used them before to organise fundraising trips. We are climbing via the Machame route, which is apparently the most scenic route and also the best for acclimatisation. This does, however, mean that it also gets quite busy!  There are currently 15 people signed up to the trek and we have been introduced via a Facebook group but yet to meet in person… We’ll also be accompanied by group leaders and a team of guides and porters who, let’s face it, do most of the hard work.

It will take 4 days to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro, through terrain varying from forest to rocky and what I have seen described as “moonscape”. This map shows the route up the mountain – it looks a very long way…

machame-route

Everyone I’ve spoken to or read about who has climbed Mount Kilimanjaro seems to share the opinion that “Summit Night” is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. We will go to bed nice and early, then get up at midnight and start walking for 4-5 hours to reach Uhuru Peak around sunrise. This is to avoid walking in the heat of the sun (and I’m sure it makes the views even more impressive at sunrise), but it means that the hardest, steepest part of the climb is very cold and dark, just at the point where the altitude is getting the hardest to bear. So that’s something to look forward to! I’m hoping that the thought of the view at the summit, not to mention the sense of achievement and the thought of all the donations to Parkinson’s UK, will be enough to help me push through!

Camping Practice at Silverstone

Seven nights in a tent is something that technically I have managed before (Glastonbury 2009) but I still feel it’s going to require a bit of mental preparation… and what better way to prepare than by practising with a weekend camping and watching cars at Silverstone.

image

This was my third Silverstone GP with James, Byron and Reece and my second trip there this year after running the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon in March. It was good fun visiting the track after having run around it – although it did cause a few painful flashbacks…

From my experience Silverstone camping is like a more civilised version of festival camping – you get to park next to your campsite (like Coachella) and the toilets are an infinite upgrade on anything you’d see at Glastonbury! We also had delicious home-cooked (campsite-cooked) meals for the whole weekend thanks to Byron and some forward planning.

Even with a forecast of torrential rain and local weather warnings (brought back memories of Silverstone 2010’s flooded tents when I ended up sleeping in the car), my tent coped extremely well and it was pretty cool lying awake listening to the rain but staying completely dry! Apart from that little downpour and the rain that made the race interesting on Sunday, the rest of the weekend was super hot & sunny and despite regular sunscreen layers I ended up with some rather strange sunburn lines on my face. Oops…

I made another little video for this weekend – even though it’s nothing to do with Kilimanjaro training it’s good practice for filming and editing to make sure I can make a half decent video of Kili!