Gathering the groups
“Let me know what you think about Kilimanjaro and if you’d be up for it in Feb 2023”. That was just over a year ago in January 2022 when Beth messaged me. Back in 2016 I, along with 6 others, climbed Everest Base Camp. The aim was to create another small group to do Kili.
“It looks really good, very tempted”
Kilimanjaro was going to be nearly 2K feet higher than Everest Base Camp, which gave me some thought. I’d struggled with the altitude at times on EBC , as had another member of the original EBC crew. In the end, our Kili group was 8 people, Beth, Ollie, and myself part of the same crew from 2016. Now it was time to kick off the preparation.
I’d read that an all-day weekend hike and a couple of 30 min runs a week is good training and so this became the focus of my Kilimanjaro preparation. I’ve been running semi-regularly last couple of years and upped this in the months leading up. Back in England for Christmas, I hung around for an extra week to meet up with most of the group for a hike (minus Sam, in Vegas at that time). I knew everyone except for two folk from Beth’s work. It was a fun, if very wet, hike, through villages and mud-laden fields. Back in NY the Hudson Valley offered some good training. While the mountains weren’t comparable in height (2-3K feet doesn’t quite compare) it still helped with general fitness and terrain practice.
The last week prior to the hike was crazier than I hoped. Somehow I still had a few items left to gather from the checklist. This included a new backpack after a weekend hike highlighted my current one was too small. I’d been fighting a cold as well for a week though thankfully was able to shrug it off before I flew. The final stressor was picking up altitude meds the very day I was flying. My flights landed in Kilimanjaro on Saturday evening, this thankfully gave me all of Sunday for final prep and relaxation.
Later Sunday afternoon our guides met us at the hotel for our briefing. I wasn’t expecting a PowerPoint presentation to take us through the important details but appreciated the thoroughness. Before arriving I’d done some research but at the same time tried to limit what I read. I wanted to go in being able to enjoy the moments and have it be ‘new’. Some of the details shared were interesting, I hadn’t realised all of the different climates we were trekking through the rainforest, moorland, alpine desert, and ice glacier. Food was also addressed – I didn’t know we’d have a traveling chef with us.
During Q&A toilets obviously came up and something that had been brushed over until that point with minimal reference was that we could opt to pay for our own private traveling camping toilet. This seemed appealing if the other option was to use public toilets at the campsite, of varying and questionable quality. I think everyone agrees it was one of the best 40-odd dollars spent.
After picking up any rental kit and having dinner everyone went back to the rooms to do the final packing. There was a strict 15kg weight limit for the porters to carry your stuff which had to include a sleeping bag.
Monday – we start!
Monday morning brought a little apprehension as the official bag weigh-in took place. despite what felt like a lot of stuff I was at 10kg others a little over. The bags eventually worked out, team photos were taken, packed lunches gathered and we were onto the minivan heading to the start line.