Guest post from Aloise Price, who climbed Kilimanjaro with Tusker in September 2014.
This trip was totally different to anything I have done before. It made me realize that I’d like to have a holiday that ‘stretches me’ once a year! A big thank you to you all – the Tusker crew was fantastic.
Here are my top 10 tips for Kilimanjaro:
1. Travel with a reputable company
Tusker Trail has a medically trained staff who checked us twice a day with a litany of questions and they know what to look for. One member of our party had to go down when they mentioned ‘feeling as if I am drunk’ which apparently is a sure sign of oxygen deprivation to the brain. They were told that if they didn’t go down immediately they would start to lose their memory. There were a few people at the summit with other companies who definitely should not have been there, white as sheets and shuffling along held up by a porter. Not good.
2. “Pole, pole!”
Pronounced Pole-ai, pole-ai this means slowly, slowly. And that is key if you want to make the summit. The final day you are traveling 2.5 km straight up and if you go too quickly, you will fail. I always found the first twenty minutes of the day and the first twenty after lunch the hardest, before you get into a routine.
3. Headlamps (torches) are a must!
It gets dark by about 6:30 so whether it is watching your footing to dinner or going for a pee in the night, you must have a bright headlamp. Also spare batteries. We changed ours and they became faint after about four hours – the cold obviously affects them.
4. Poles and gaiters really help
The poles really help, both heaving yourself up and most definitely climbing down under slippery conditions. We did not have rain and yet it was still very slippery and the first three hours of descending from the summit are tough through shale.
5. Garbage & Ziploc bags are key
You will need to wrap your clothes in bags as the damp seeps through. It also helps you separate your clothing. Separate colored pouches (stuff sacks) would be even better as you could separate day to day items. Lots of zip lock bags too.
6. Use really good lip balm
I used the Australian Lucas’ Pawpaw ointment cream which was great both for protecting lips and our noses. The last few hours of the summit your nose drips incessantly and gets sore quite quickly.
7. Choose a pillow wisely
I took my travel sized Tempur and the last few days I could have broken a window with it as it froze solid!
8. Rent your sleeping bag
You need to have the correct warmth sleeping bag. Unless you are a regular climber, rent one. My son Halcyon was shirtless the first few nights – me not so much!
9. Bring plenty of snacks
Dried fruit and nuts seemed the best, though the protein bars kept us going too. We had more than enough snacks, but it was great to be able to share with the guides & porters and was much appreciated.
10. Breathe in peppermint oil
Our fellow climber Mark taught us this trick. It’s a good wake up any day, but if you live in a cold climate or ski regularly this is a must! Just a few drops in the palm of your hand, rub them together and cup your hands over your mouth and nose. Totally clears the nasal passages and is much more pleasant than Vicks – or a shot of wasabi!