Climbing Kilimanjaro

If I ever took the time to write down a Bucket List, climbing Kilimanjaro would be on there somewhere.

Not in the top ten – or even twenty – but definitely one of those “wouldn’t it be cool” ideas that, in reality, you know you’re never going to get around to. So I was somewhat taken by surprise when an opportunity presented itself in December last year. A friend organising a trek to the summit suddenly lost a member, and I was approached to step up to take their place. Kilimanjaro suddenly found itself pushed to the top of my List.

Late to the party, I had some catching up to do to get myself in relatively good shape to make it to the summit in one piece. I’ve always been an active person and I’ve spent a lot of time backpacking around different parts of the world, so in theory an eleven-day “walking holiday” shouldn’t be too difficult, right?

Wrong. Not only is this an eleven-day uphill walking holiday, we’ll also be faced with a variety of climates from tropical jungle at the base to sub-zero temperatures at the summit, wide sections of scrambling over rocky terrain, the threat of altitude sickness, and a distinct lack of showers. Still, I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.

We started our training in Snowdonia, where we braved the wintery February weather to reach the peak of Mount Snowdon. A tough day, but the below-freezing conditions at the peak of Snowdon were surprisingly similar to what we’ve been told to expect near the peak of Kilimanjaro. It felt pretty good to make it to the top and back in an afternoon with relative ease, though my sense of achievement was muted by the fact that Snowdon is only 1/6 the size of Kilimanjaro. Not quite there yet, but a great start.

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Besides Snowdon, I’m lucky to have the Peak District right on my doorstep – a place I’ve been taking advantage of in the last few weeks with long hikes through Dovedale and around Ladybower. We have a training weekend planned at the end of April where we’ll get more insight in to what exactly to expect on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, and to round everything off we’ll be heading to the Lakes in May to climb Scafell Pike – twice!

We’re doing all this for a fantastic charity – Vision Aid Overseas. They’re doing excellent work improving access to eye care in developing countries. I’m at 60% of my initial target of raising £3,600 thanks to the generosity of friends, family and colleagues. We’ll also be running a raffle draw in early June with some great prizes up for grabs. Please get in touch if you’d like to buy tickets, or you can donate to my fundraising here.

I still have a lot of preparation to do before we fly out to Tanzania, but I’m confident that I’ll be as prepared as I can be. Those of us partaking make a great team, and that’ll make all the difference as we support one another over the course of the trip. All in all I’m looking forward to the challenge, though any advice would be welcome!

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I’ll be writing out that bucket list on my way to the peak so I can make a point of crossing Kilimanjaro off when I get there.