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.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Progress (or lack of)

Preparations haven't gone well during the past week. Firstly, I've had a threatened head cold that's never quite made up its mind whether to turn into a full-blown streamer or just melt away. I gave swimming a miss last week because I just didn't feel up to it, and only took the dogs for a seven-mile walk over my own local hill at the weekend. Total height gain was only about 600 feet over some decidedly untaxing terrain, but at least the weather was pleasant – sunny with a light cold breeze. It didn't exactly blow away the incipient cold, but neither did it make me feel any worse.

Lambing has begun in earnest this week. I got little sleep last night, having slept on the sofa with my alarm clock set to go off every hour. Several freezing trips to the sheep shed eventually only resulted in one lamb being born at 5am. More sleepless nights are likely over the next three weeks, which will make it much harder to keep up the exercise regime. I'm still undecided about swimming tomorrow even if I feel able to leave the sheep for a couple of hours.

My equipment-buying spree is almost finished, as I now have everything I'll need for the trip other than small last minute purchases of medicines and snacks for the trek. Everything, that is, except the most important item of all – a good pair of boots. I've tried on the entire footwear section of three outdoor shops, including all the top brands and most popular lines with very limited success. They're all too loose, too tight, too narrow, too wide or just plain uncomfortable. The only pair that felt good on my feet were Meindl Borneo Pros – eye-wateringly expensive, of course – but I'm concerned they might be too heavy for my knees. I'm not convinced my knees are up to the task of dragging three pounds of leather up Kilimanjaro, especially on summit day. Lightweight fabric boots won't give the strength and support necessary for the summit descent, so I'm still hoping to find a suitable pair of leather boots. Time is not on my side, though, as they'll need a breaking in period of at least a few weeks before I leave for Tanzania.

I'm also having passport problems. My old one is due for renewal in August, so I sent it off together with the appropriate form, already filled in online and posted back to me by the passport office for signing. I've now received a letter from them saying my photograph has been rejected for being too light. As I paid £4 to have it taken in a booth in my local post office, I'm not pleased. I'm even less pleased with the replacement I had taken on Monday in the same booth (now fitted with proper blackout curtains, presumably in response to complaints from rejected customers). The original wasn't exactly flattering, but the most recent version makes me look like an extra in a horror film. At least they can't claim it's too light, even if it bears no resemblance to me.

And finally, I'm having no success in finding a trek operator that can give me the Kilimanjaro itinerary I want unless I'm willing to go alone rather than as part of a group. More on that subject later this week.


Anonymous said...

I've been reading about your training from time to time. It sounds very exciting and I'm more than a little envious of your adventure.

As for boots, the new hot thing in the Army are these desert boots that fit like sneakers but still provide decent traction and can be worn in uniform. I don't know if they're remotely what you're looking for, but here are a few links:

Also, I've heard from numerous people who trained with Special Forces that these insoles, which are baked and molded to your foot and can be put in any shoe, are the best:

Can't wait to hear more about your training!


SAR said...

Hi Abbey -- your training sounds a lot more exciting than mine. But the adventure itself is getting closer, even if I haven't quite got a definite date yet.

The Converse boots look interesting (and have the big advantage of being cheap), but I'm not sure they'd give enough support for summit day on Kilimanjaro. One of the problems about boots for this trip is that they need to do several different jobs. The climb begins in equatorial rain forest, so goretex-type linings will be really sweaty (and my feet tend to overheat even in the Welsh winters). Kilimanjaro can be very wet and muddy at lower levels, too. The final night of climbing up steep lava and shale can be in temperatures below 10 degrees F, so insulation suddenly looks good. This is followed by 'skiing' back down that final 3000 feet of shale -- very hard on the boots and ankles as well as knees. The ideal comfort option would be to take three pairs of boots for the differing terrain, but this isn't an option as luggage is limited to 15kg per climber for the sake of the porters who carry it on their heads for several vertical miles.
It all means the final choice is a compromise between weight, strength and support. I'll be in London overnight next month, so I'll be heading for the big outdoors outfitters around Covent Garden while I'm there, to try on a few more boots.

I've heard of heat-moulded insoles (especially for ski boots) but didn't know there were any available that didn't involve professional fitting and great expense. These look great, and I'll definitely consider getting a pair once I have the actual boots to go with them. Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

Well said.