The preparation to climb Kili isn’t easy. 20,000 people plan for it every year. They head to the shops to find the warmest down jacket and sturdiest trekking poles. They don their hiking boots on the airplane with hopes to break them in before the climb, and arrive in East Africa sticking out like a sore thumb. They wander through the hotel gardens at night with headlamps strapped to their foreheads, practicing. They get to the park gate and realize the time has come and it’s time to test the gear.
To prep for 3 Peaks, the task is even greater. Though the team might have left a few layers at base camp for the previous climbs, they were told to pack everything for this one. Layers. Layers. And more layers. New socks for the summit, not ones they have previously used. Snacks. Enough snacks to keep them well fed and energized. They easily expend 3000 to 4000 calories per day (and more on summit night). Some tried to get out of taking too much, and protested that they had experienced very cold winters back home. But when asked if they had experienced the arctic, they realized they had better bring everything with them – every fleece, every jacket, every thermal.
The team is heading up the Machame Route on Kili, also known as the Whiskey Route, a beautiful trail that covers a beautiful side of the mountain while gaining a good deal of altitude. The days are much longer than what they were on Meru and Kenya, hence why it is called Whiskey – it’s tough and hard. A much shorter and less difficult route on Kili is the Marangu Route – or the “Coco-cola Route,” known for being much easier.
It’s hard to say that any route up Kili is easy. Yes, Kilimanjaro is a National Park, but to get to its summit, it’s no walk in the park. Today the team has gained 800m (2640ft) and is sleeping tight at 3800m (12,467ft). From here they have a long arduous day tomorrow with lunch on the trail. The will ascend to 4600m and then descend to 3900m for the nights sleep. It is one of the most difficult days on the trek as it often times brings on feelings of altitude sickness. Word from the guides is that the team is strong and pushing forward with no problems.
The guides, are another story altogether, along with the camp crew and porters. They have 11 women on the team + 1 filmer (Doug), and over 50 other guys hiking along side them, running ahead to set up camp, and taking care to have meals hot, fresh and appetizing – a skill not easy to recreate on the trail. Thanks to Adventure International the services are superb!!!
Posted by Laura Hartstone