Kili Weather

Kilimanjaro Factfile

At 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and the only one of the seven summits (highest mountain on each continent) that is accessible without mountaineering equipment and experience.

It's the highest freestanding mountain in the world and one of the largest volcanoes, dormant rather than extinct.

On the summit, the lungs can only absorb half the amount of oxygen compared to sea-level.

The summit at Uhuru Peak is more than 1,600 feet higher than Everest base camp.

Estimates vary, but around 20,000 people attempt to climb Kilimanjaro each year. Almost half fail to reach the summit.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Let there be light

And now, there is. My sister gave me a Petzl Tikka Plus today; a belated Christmas present that hadn't arrived through the post in time for the holiday. After some research, I'd come to the conclusion the Tikkaplus was the best head torch for summit night on Kilimanjaro and general use around camp, including reading and writing in the tent. It has four LEDs with three brightness settings (plus a flashing mode) and a much longer battery life than conventional bulb torches. I don't know how well the batteries will stand up to the sub-zero temperatures, but I'm hoping it won't be necessary to replace them in the dark and cold of that final climb. The catch to the battery compartment is quite fiddly and definitely not made for frozen fingers. The torch is unexpectedly light with a comfortable, broad elastic headband and a good system for angle adjustment.

I'm also hoping to do a temporary swap with someone within the family to get hold of a pair of lightweight pocket binoculars. My own pair of 10x25 so-called pocket Tascos weigh eleven ounces, which may not sound heavy, but is a lot when every ounce counts and has to be carried up 19000 feet. And for my final optical acquisition, I've already bought a pair of Cebe snow glasses with side shades for sun protection – last year's model at a quarter the original price (£15) from TKMaxx a few weeks ago. Very snazzy, even if they are considered outdated by the fashion scene. It was about time I bought a new pair of decent sunglasses anyway – I've been using a really cheap and ineffective pair for several years after losing two pairs of quality ones in quick succession. Funny how it's never the cheap ones that go missing.

I'm working on transferring my equipment list to spreadsheet form I can upload for access via this blog. There are general lists on the websites of most trekking outfits and plenty of personal lists posted on blogs by people who've already climbed the mountain, but one more may still be useful for anyone thinking of making the trip. Although the basic essentials are universal, there are differences in emphasis between individual preferences. Despite the weight limits for portering climbers' equipment (15kg per trekker for most companies) and daypack (limited only by the individual climber's ability to carry it), the list of essentials is surprisingly long. Having to prepare for temperatures ranging from equatorial African to below 20 degrees F means an awful lot of kit. I'm particularly fortunate to have been lent the two most expensive items by friends. An arctic grade sleeping bag and Thermarest mattress would have added considerable cost to my preparations. The sleeping bag has already been up Kilimanjaro once and proved to be well up to the task, so will be on familiar territory. The cold weather gear I've been buying -- Ebay is my best friend -- is already paying for itself by keeping me warm around the farm. Wish I'd discovered technical thermal underwear long ago.

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