This time in 4 weeks I’ll have just completed the first day climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro. This is something that I have dreamed of doing for as long as I can remember. I have no idea why, or what triggered this dream, but all I know is that its always been there in the back of mind.
I’ll be 50 later this year and this fits perfectly into my 50at50 challenges. I am as fit mentally and physically as I can hope to be, and to be honest Kilimanjaro is not considered a ‘technically difficult’ climb, however the one thing I am scared of, and that I have no control over, is AMS (acute mountain sickness). This is triggered by the altitude and at 5,895m (19,340 feet) Kilimanjaro is certainly a challenge - interesting fact; both Everest’s base camps (North and South) are below the summit of Kilimanjaro. On average less than 65% of those people who attempt the mountain each year make it to the top and for those that don’t it is almost always the AMS that stops them in their tracks. Every year approximately 1,000 people are evacuated from the mountain. Ironically it is smokers and the least fit people who suffer the least as, so the locals say, their lungs are already used to struggling! Maybe I should take up smoking…..
Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world (i.e. not part of a mountain range) and one of the ‘Big Seven’ – the highest peak in each continent. Of these Big Seven, its is the fourth highest after Everest (Asia), Aconcagua (South America) and Denali (North America). The other three smaller ones are Elbrus (Europe), Vinson Massif (Antarctica) and Kosciuszko (Australia). Kili lies in Tanzania and the equator runs just 200 miles from it, however temperatures at the top are below -20C so we have to prepare for all conditions. I have just found out today that there is much more snow than usual on the summit and we have been told to ‘pack accordingly’.
So while in some ways this is an ‘easy’ mountain to climb it also has plenty of challenges. I know that at times, especially on summit night, I will want to give up (we set off at 11pm and climb through the night hoping to reach the top at sunrise, we then spend another 10 hours climbing back down again), however knowing that I’m raising valuable funds for these four charities will keep me going. I have chosen them for the following reasons:
I do appreciate that everyone’s bank accounts are pretty depleted in January but if you’re able to spare a pound (or more!) for these amazing charities it would be amazing. NB I have covered all the trip costs myself so all monies raised will go to the charities.
For those of you who are wondering what’s happened to the rest of my 50 challenges, fear not, I am making progress but just haven’t got around to blogging for a while. I’m on the case…..