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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, 5 June 2007

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I've been involved in an exhausting, hectic social whorl for the past week or two, which has meant a few lapses in my training schedule, though not as many as a sudden 'attack of the thorns', resulting in ten punctures in two weeks for my shiny new bike. I'm now watching the road immediately ahead of my tyres with paranoid intensity.

Today, I went to my doctor's travel clinic to learn just how much of a pincushion I will need to become in the course of the next few weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to learn I will be punctured less than expected. I had one jab today to bring my tetanus, diptheria and polio immunity up to date and have another appointment in two weeks for a combined Hepatitis A and Typhoid jab. The administering nurse assured me Typhoid vaccine no longer causes the painful swelling and illness I still vividly remember from my childhood. I'll need to go to a larger health centre in Hereford for my Yellow Fever injection, which is easier than I'd hoped. I remember having to travel all the way to a Birmingham hospital with a department of infectious and tropical medicine for my first Yellow Fever jab when I was nine years old. I suppose people travel a lot more now, so vaccines for tropical diseases are more readily available. The jab will apparently cost me about £50.

While I was in London recently, I hit the Covent Garden area, trying on numerous different brands of boots in four of the big outdoors stores. After several more hours going through numerous Salomon, Raichle, Asolo, Brasher, Zamberlan, Scarpa and Berghaus models, I knew without any doubt I had to go back to one of the first boots I'd tried in my local shops, months ago. The only brand that is light and supportive enough for the Kilimanjaro summit that fits me comfortably is Meindl, specifically the Women's Borneo Pro MFS and the Women's Air Revolution 2.0. I'm going to go for the Borneo – both boots are similarly priced (i.e. expensive, of course), but the leather model will presumably last longer than the more hi-tech fabric one. The Borneo isn't Goretx-lined, so will be a lot more comfortable for my hot-running feet, and almost as waterproof thanks to the near seamless construction and oiled leather. I expect my feet to be drier than my fellow-climbers' encased in steamy waterproof membrane. With extra thermal sock liners for summit night my feet should be warm enough, but I intend to take a pair of chemical footwarmers be sure of remaining frostbite free in the glacier zone.

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