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, 24 July 2007

Just one left to go

Had my typhoid jab last week, so that's five down, one to go. I have an appointment booked in two weeks in Brecon for the final, yellow fever innoculation though I may change it. They charge £50 but I've since discovered I can have it done in Hereford for £45.

The terrible weather we've been having since early June has made training a very wet business, but at least it's tested my waterproof gear. Everything, including boots seems to work well.

I'm narrowing down my flight options and hope to book by the end of the week, although I am concerned about the numerous hazards -- huge security queues at Heathrow can mean missed flights, some airlines are particularly prone to losing luggage and industrial action is now threatened in September by the staff of Virgin Atlantic, one of my preffered options.

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Slow going

No progress to report recently, as I've been busy with other projects for the past week or two. I had my second hepatitis B injection last Tuesday, so I'm now half way through the list.

I've been looking at some cheap flight sites for the trip but haven't yet made a concerted effort to finalise a booking. I have to say I'm confused by the choices offered – can't even decide which airport to leave from, let alone whether to fly direct to Kilimanjaro airport or via Nairobi then on by plane or minibus. The choice of airlines seems to go on and on. Kenya Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Air Emirates, Air Quatr – the list seems endless, though strangely doesn't include British Airways unless I'm willing to pay double the economy fare to travel business class, which, of course, I'm not. That's an irritation because I'm entitled to a 10% discount as a BA shareholder. I've owned the shares for more than 20 years and this is the first time I've had the opportunity to take advantage of the discount.

It looks as if my latest Ebay purchase is going to be a godsend. I'd been thinking of buying a lightweight folding luggage trolley for a while, to make carrying my extra-large holdall easier (sleeping bag, down jacket, sleeping pad etc. take up a lot of space in luggage). Last week, I finally bought one, though it hasn't arrived yet. The Glasgow airport bomb fiasco will no doubt mean vehicles will be banned from dropping off or collecting people from the terminals, so a trolley is presumably now an essential piece of travel kit. I know a lot of modern luggage has built-in wheels (my own suitcase has them), but wheels are a no-no for Kilimanjaro. Kit needs to be packed in soft-sided bags or rucksacks without hard projections so the porters can carry them on their heads.

This week will be the second anniversary since I dislocated my shoulder and it's still not 100% recovered. Lifting even moderate weights at arm's length is difficult – silly things like pouring water from a jug aren't easy, and I recently discovered it hasn't regained as much strength as I'd thought; when I stayed with a friend whose bath is the opposite way around from mine, I had difficulty getting out of the tub. The upper arm muscles that were paralysed by nerve damage have regained feeling and movement, but not full strength despite two years of exercise. It shouldn't affect my climb, but I am really afraid of another dislocation. I've had some success with training myself to fall on my side or shoulder when I slip on steep slopes (a regular occurrence in my muddy fields), rather than the normal reflex of putting out an arm to save myself. It was this reflex that caused the original injury. The possibility of this kind of fall on Kilimanjaro does bother me, and is another hazard to add to altitude sickness and evil bugs from recycled aircraft air. Any one of these could put an end to a year of preparation. I have contingency plans to deal with the last two, and intend to be very careful to avoid falls of any kind.