Category Archives: Clothing & Equipment

Kilimanjaro countdown: 3 days to go!!

That’s 3 DAYS until I fly to Nairobi, and 6 until the climb starts.

In preparation, I have not drunk any Diet Coke in the last ten days… Anyone who knows me will know that this is a disproportionately big deal, as it’s normally rare that I go more than a day without a can or bottle (tut tut, I know). But the thought of experiencing any kind of caffeine withdrawal on top of whatever else Kilimanjaro might throw at me made it a no-brainer…

Also, I’ve packed!

I think I may repack before I leave just to triple check I have everything, especially as I am still purchasing various bits and pieces – nothing like last minute hey? But at least the majority of my stuff is nestled safely in my bags ready to go.

Here’s the proof:

Packed and (nearly) ready for Kilimanjaro!!

Now for one more read through the kit list…

Tanzanian Visa: check!

I had to renew my passport last year (getting old!) and I was a bit sad as my last one contained two Working Holiday visas, something I imagine is not likely to happen again. But fear not, I’ve embarked on the exciting task of filling up my new passport, starting with a Tanzanian visa.

Tanzanian High Commision

You can get a Tanzanian visa on entry at the airport, but as I work not far from the embassy (it’s actually a High Commission, I’m not sure what the difference is) I decided I may as well get it in advance. So I popped over there on my lunch break to drop off my passport – which took about 15 minutes including a 14.5 minute wait. Then 3 days later I popped back to get it, which took about 90 seconds. I was quite surprised how fast the process was, but that is maybe because I compare every embassy experience with the horror of the American Embassy a few years ago.

I will also need to get a Kenyan visa as I’ll be there for longer than 12 hours. Apparently you can no longer get a Kenyan visa on entry as they have switched to an e-visa system. I’m halfway through filling in the online form, and I think it’s then a case of taking a print out of the email confirmation to show at the airport. To me that’s not actually an e-visa, but a great way to cut down on printing costs at the Kenyan embassy by having everyone print their own visa!

I’m working my way through my list of Kilimanjaro-related tasks so visa is definitely a good one to tick off. Up next – jabs & medications, and to finalise my packing & shopping lists!

One month to go!!

I’m aware that I start every blog post in the same way, but really time is going so fast! The countdown is now down to one month which is really very scary…

On the training front, I am trying to walk or hike at weekends as much as possible, though as I mentioned before it’s quite difficult in West London! I’m also having to be quite careful with my long suffering left knee who’s a bit weak thanks to an old netball injury, and who didn’t really enjoy the descent of Ben Nevis very much. So I have stopped running and playing netball, which means my exercise is currently limited to walking and my trusty Jillian Michaels 30 day shred DVD…

Fundraising has slowed down a bit recently, although I have had a lot of promises of sponsorship which I think will appear closer to the time. I may try and fit in another cake sale or something in the next few weeks.

And in terms of preparation for the climb, I’m in the process working my way through a very long shopping list… I keep finding myself drawn to any outdoor shop I walk by – especially if it has a Sale sign in the window. I think I underestimated slightly how much all this mountain gear would cost so I’m happy for firstly the 15% discount at Cotswold Outdoor, and that I work near Lillywhites where there is a great outdoor section. I also managed to spend a small fortune in Boots recently on things like water purification tablets and wet wipes and there is still plenty more on my shopping list! I am very much a list-maker so I currently have several lists going – packing list, shopping list and a few to do lists – enough to keep me occupied for the next few weeks!

Shopping for Mountain Kit

From the dauntingly long Kilimanjaro Trek kit list that we were provided with, the only things that I already owned were some base layers and a windproof soft shell jacket from skiing and running. Apart from those and my Meindl Toronto boots I bought back in February, I’ve pretty much had to start my mountain wardrobe from scratch.

I’ve been making numerous trips over the last few months to Cotswold Outdoor, which is just round the corner from where I work, and thanks to Discover Adventure I also get a 15% discount there – very handy indeed! So I now have most of the basics, and having tested them out a couple of times, I am quite confident that they were good choices (although I guess this can only be confirmed at 3am on Kilimanjaro summit night).

The trousers I decided on are the Craghoppers Kiwi Pro – I first bought the fleece-lined winter version and liked them so much I also bought the unlined summer version. Compared to other trousers I tried, these have a much more flattering fit and none of those zip off knees that I’m just not sure I could pull off.

I got a bit confused by all the advice on waterproof jackets, and first off I bought one of those 3-in-1 waterproofs from The North Face with a zip-in inner jacket. But then I got it home and realised how annoying and pointless it is to keep taking out the inner jacket, so I returned it and went for a Berghaus Calisto Delta jacket, which is a more basic waterproof outer jacket that can be worn with as many fleeces and warm layers as I like underneath without have to attach any of them. I’ve worn this a few times already and can confirm that it is indeed waterproof.

And finally, the day pack. I figured this is one thing (along with socks) that can make or break comfort levels during the trek, so I didn’t want to borrow one or scrimp too much in this area. I went for the Osprey Tempest 30L in a rather bright shade of pink (safety first, don’t want to be invisible if I get lost on a mountain!) and it seems to be a good choice so far. It’s a specific women’s shape so fits better over the chest and hip areas, it’s lightweight and has lots and lots of handy pockets :) I did find after Snowdon that my collarbones were very sore by the end of the day, but I think that’s due to them being exceptionally bony rather than a fault of the bag (and possibly due to the fact I was carrying two bottles of champagne in the bag). I didn’t have the same problem for Ben Nevis so hopefully it will be fine!

There are still a worrying number of items left on my shopping list that I will need to get over the next few weeks, the most important being a sleeping bag… I’ve been putting that off as I’m not sure where to start and it seems like a big investment for a week long trip – on the other hand, the idea of borrowing or renting a sleeping bag does not really appeal!

6 months until Kilimanjaro!

Time is flying!

It’s crazy to think that it’s been over 6 months since I first decided to take on this challenge, and in that time again I will be (fingers crossed) approaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro!

So far I’ve ticked off my running challenge with the Adidas Silverstone Half Marathon, and I hope to do a couple more 10K runs to keep up my general fitness and because now I’ve got some PBs I want to beat :o)

Windy walk on the South West Coast Path! #devon #coast #roadtrip #westwardho! #sea #walking

A photo posted by @anniemaggiemay on

I’ve started my walking training with a couple of walks (most recently a windy South West coast walk in Devon this weekend) and plenty more planned, including a trip to Snowdonia and a vague plan for Ben Nevis. Also on the agenda are plenty of Box Hill laps and some flatter West London walks.

Fundraising is starting to ramp up with some donations coming in but I still have a long way to go! I am in the process of organising a pub quiz in central London and a couple of other events / raffles etc – details to follow.

I’ve realised I still have quite a long shopping list as far as kit goes. In fact, the only things I have purchased are my boots and some fleece lined walking trousers, so there’s plenty of shopping (/begging/borrowing/stealing) to be done over the next few months!

Mission: Hiking Boots

After my usual extensive internet research, January’s mission was to find and buy a pair of hiking boots for all the walking I’ll be doing this year. My parents guessed exactly what was top of my Christmas list and kindly contributed towards the purchase.

I found myself in Cotswold Outdoor in Covent Garden after work one day, and even though the sales assistant almost put me off with some patronising comments (“trying to compare those two boots is like trying to compare Chanel with Dior”), he was helpful and patient while I tried on four different styles in a variety of sizes.

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I had decided leather would be the best option for me and Gore Tex was a must, and in the end I bought the Meindl Toronto GTX – the last pair I tried and instantly the most comfortable for my very fussy feet.

I’ve been wearing them around the house as much as possible (our neighbours in the downstairs flat must love me!) but I was at first undecided on whether I should keep the boots. The top of my foot was feeling a little tingly after a while of wearing them, which is not surprising as I have a high instep and this is the same place that all rental ski boots hurt.

Then I came across an article on SectionHiker.com that included this video on different methods for tying laces, and relacing the boots suddenly made them feel like they were made for my feet.

I think “Lacing Windows” may be my new favourite thing!

So now I’ve decided to keep the boots, the next step is to actually test them outside as the ten-pace loop of my living room is not going to break them in very quickly!