2 Months until the Snows of Kilimanjaro (OT)


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Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Topic Author's Original Post - Jul 18, 2013 - 07:40pm PT
Haven't been very active lately, so I thought I would let my fellow Tacoites know what we have been up to!

A couple years ago, a friend of our had returned from Macchu Picchu and was regaling us with the tales of his trip. He then said "OK, I want to do Kilmanjaro next!"

My lovely finacee and I looked at each other, shrugged and both said "Sure! When?"

We set a date for two years, and have been sticking to the timetable for that. Unfortunately, our friend decided a couple months ago to take his savings and go travel the world, but we managed to find a couple that were willing to shell out the $ for the trip at the end of September.

We will be on Kilimanjaro for 6 days and 5 nights, ascending via the Rongai route and descending the Machame. Then we are off to a 3 day safari into Tanzania National Park. I don't think I will ever make it over there again, so I would really kick myself if we didn't go on safari. We chose a camping option for the climb, and hotels for the safari.

We are pretty much done on the gear collection, and will be getting all our wonderful shots next week. Flights are booked, and the remainder of the bill will be paid this week so that we can apply for our entry visas. Went to the doc and stocked up on a travel pharmacy - Cipro, Diamox, epi pens and malaria pills.

Starting to get pretty excited, and a little nervous at the same time - my previous best height has been 14, and our main altitude training area is off limits right now due to a large wildfire that is still dying down. So we may be taking trips over to the Eastern Sierra to get into thinner air over the next 2 months.

Curious to see how many folks here have made the trip, and what their experiences were like. How about it?

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
Jul 18, 2013 - 07:49pm PT
My advice is to do what you're planning to do - lots of altitude. When you
get on it take it easy, but you already know that. Oh, and don't eat no
yellow snow!

You won't have to worry about this but it is a hoot. One of my old mates
was having a go at Mt Kenya with his wife. They were camped by themselves
right at treeline. Sometime in the night they awoke to what they thought
was an earthaquake. Then they realized a herd of elephants had wandered
into their campsite! They cowered in abject terror for quite a while. In
the morning there were tracks all around their tent to within 3 feet!
The elephants clearly knew the tent was there. They say elephants are
really smart so maybe they just didn't want to piss off a Scot. Although
as I recall it woulda been the Sassenach wife they wouldn't want to piss off.
Toker Villain

Big Wall climber
Toquerville, Utah
Jul 18, 2013 - 07:53pm PT
Kili still has snow?

I'd skip the trudge, rent a Rover, and camp where the action is.
(silly tourons go to check out animals at exactly the wrong time of day)

edit; interesting cross posting Reilly
A friend camped in the Serengeti and the hyena sounded so scary he took a dump 3' from his tent because he wouldn't go farther. I asked him, "Do you really think that little bit of cloth is gonna help?"

Trad climber
Jul 18, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
Vegasclimber - Have a most excellent experience! Looking forward to your TR!
goatboy smellz

Jul 18, 2013 - 08:11pm PT
Definitely jump around in the snow, something to tell your kids, it may not be there in 16 years.


Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jul 18, 2013 - 10:27pm PT

Godspeed on a wonderful adventure of a life time !

Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 18, 2013 - 10:29pm PT
Ambien for the flight there and two for the way back. Climbed Kenya in 2005 and had a great time.....enjoy!

Mountain climber
Jul 18, 2013 - 10:33pm PT
Ya,Africa! I'll be there as well, but a couple of months after you Vegas. Gonna try for Mt. Kenya, if the weather permits..also some climbing in S.A. beforehand..

Best of luck to you for your journey!

P.S. Mountain bikes..perhaps not a proper mode of travel on the African plains!


Trad climber
Ouray, Colorado
Jul 18, 2013 - 10:35pm PT
Mountain bikers......meals on wheels for the local cats.

The Granite State.
Jul 18, 2013 - 10:37pm PT

Need a house sitter in Vegas? :)

Jul 19, 2013 - 12:11am PT
Don't hear alot about the Rongai Route. I did the Machame Route, and really enjoyed the high traverse under the south side
Spider Savage

Mountain climber
The shaggy fringe of Los Angeles
Jul 19, 2013 - 12:51am PT
Can you check the west ridge for me? I think my guide left his leopard tied up there.

Jul 19, 2013 - 10:46am PT
- Ngorogoro Crater. Don't miss it!! Most amazing geologic/ zoological experience.

From Moshe It's less driving than the Serengeti and the biodiversity density is unbelievable. If its a dry year it's the only place worth going on Safari. If it has been wet and the timing is right, the Serengeti is mind blowing otherwise it's just a vast expanse.

Jul 19, 2013 - 10:50am PT
Oh yeah, as for the mountain, don't sweat it. Go slow. Haba na haba hujaza kibaba. Pole pole! Don't drink anything that hasn't been purified or boiled. Any altitude you get here will most likely do you no help by the time you get there other than getting in shape and knowing what it feels like, unless your at altitude until the last minute before you leave.

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 19, 2013 - 12:03pm PT
Nice responses, all!

The Rongai route is one of the lesser traveled routes on the mountain, and also one of the easiest. I chose it primarily due to less traffic, and the fact that we are using tents and not sleeping in huts. Not as scenic, but we will get to see plenty of scenery on the way down.

We will be going to the crater as part of our safari, I didn't want to miss that for sure!

I know that any altitude training that we do isn't going to help with the altitude part, as it wears off so fast. My main concern is getting my gal up into some higher places, the last time we went to Charleston peak she was getting a slight headache at about 10, but she hadn't ever been that high up before. We would like to do Whitney, but with the permit situation like it is we probably won't be able to make that happen. Can't get any more days off and that would be a three day event for us with drive times.

Jul 19, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
research and choose your altitude and malaria meds with care

Social climber
Falls Church, VA
Jul 19, 2013 - 05:01pm PT
did the rongai 7-day last july...i think the extra day definitely helped the three in our party who had zero experience (i.e. the two big gay texans did not even realize it would be cold on the mountain until a week before; they showed up with the very best cold weather gear available from a shopping spree at the local bass pro shop)

the hike to the mountain is, literally and figuratively, a stroll in the park...the pace was, for me, frustratingly slow but designed to maximize client success...summit day was an ass-kicker but, again, the guides want to ensure you summit and set an appropriate pace...the hardest part is actually the extended hike to uhuru peak--an optional three hour round trip

i'm sure it's not too late to reserve oxygen...i did not use diomox and suffered retinal edema, losing about 50% of my vision...diomox, some steroids, and oxygen helped me see well enough for the long hike out from base camp and sleeping with oxygen and lower elevation restored my vision completely...so, if i had it to do over again, i would take diomox...if you're that concerned about your girl, i suggest you reserve the oxygen bottle--better safe than sorry...i was surpised at some of the people who made it to the summit (old and out of shape) and some who didn't (young and in superb shape)

take LOTS of cash...do not use credit at all, even in the african airport...also, they will not accept $100 bills printed before 2000...carry all 20s...i took $500 and would probably take another $200-300 because I was pinching pennies on the way home (i found later i was waaaaaaaaay too generous with my tipping)

i also suggest a solar charger...i didn't actually need it, but the guides were loving me when they found out they could charge their cell phones

also, take any old gear you don't want...the porters will be happy to have your hand-me-downs (even the rattiest pair of sneakers), which will lighten your load on the trip home...old pocket knives, hats, socks, t-shirts, etc., anything

have fun!

Trad climber
Las Vegas
Jul 19, 2013 - 05:37pm PT

<--- envious

Be safe, keep the stoke !

Trad climber
Las Vegas, NV.
Topic Author's Reply - Jul 20, 2013 - 04:26am PT
Bookworm, thanks for your input, it's appreciated.

We actually are taking the extra day, but I need to check on it. Our trip list says its at day 2, but the website says day 4. Day 4 makes a lot more sense to me with the listed altitudes.

I will have tips laid out before we go, but I plan on tipping well. The standard tips for these guys are way less then I can afford and I will make them happy. I already read about the money issues, but I'm glad to hear my plan is correct.

I am taking my Guide 10 charger with me, mainly to have a backup set of batteries for the cameras. I have a European phone for Germany, but I'm not planning on having a phone with me on this trip - we will be way out of range most of the trip anyways.

Christina and I will both have Diamox, and I think we will be ok with that. She wasn't debilitated when we were at 12, just a slight headache. And, that was a one day run without any prior acclimitization. No way of telling until we get there though. Thanks for sharing your experience, sounds like it was a bit scary for you! Glad you came out of it ok. I will be taking my medical diagnostic stuff with me (BP cuff etc) so I can keep an eye on things.

I'm just stoked that I will get to attempt this. If you told me 5 years ago that I would take a trip like this, I would have laughed my ass off. It's taken a lot of saving and a serious job change to make this happen, but it's going to be well worth it I think.

Jul 20, 2013 - 12:50pm PT
Please say that you're not using Larium
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