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, 26 August 2007

Done and dusted

I've booked my flight. In three weeks time, I'll be spending my final night of preparation before starting the climb. Much as I dislike both Heathrow and British Airways, I've reluctantly decided they offer the best itinerary for my situation. I've also booked my rail tickets to London and a bed in a friend's flat to enable a 6am departure by tube that will give me the three-hour check-in time necessary for security clearance. I'm hoping my 10.20am flight will be early enough to miss the worst of the queues, but it's probably wishful thinking. My journey is now fully organised as far as Nairobi, as I've arranged for a friend to drive me the twenty-five miles to the nearest station where I can catch a train for London. I now have only to find a hotel where I can spend the night in Nairobi, and then book my shuttle from there to Marangu. And decide what to do with the three – four days in Tanzania after the climb, of course.

I've had to join the British Mountaineering Council to get myself insured – it was a cheaper option than Snowcard, the only other high altitude insurer I could find. At £80 for the two weeks, it's an expensive business, but does seem to cover every possible eventuality and any sport I might conceivably try, including riding and hot air ballooning (both of which are attractive, though I think ballooning would mean too much travelling for the time available).

Tomorrow, I'll book my Nairobi hotel and the shuttle bus ticket to Marangu. All this from the comfort of my own home. I just love the internet.

I had my last immunisation yesterday, when I paid out £45 to a Hereford doctor to inject me against yellow fever. Interestingly, the certified yellow form I was given is almost identical to the two childhood ones I still have in my 'box of important papers'. So, my time as a human pin-cushion has ended at last.

Yesterday, I also stocked up with snacks and treats for the climb. Food is essential fuel and apparently very important in the fight against AMS. I'm not really accustomed to snacking on the kind of processed sweet bars that will stand up to days of tropical heat and rough and ready transport, so it hasn't been easy to find some that aren't disgusting and sickly-sweet. I've finally decided on a pack of soft but solid, cake-like bars of Nutrigrain Raisin Bakes and Sainsbury's Organic Hazelnut Bars, as well as some Sesame Snaps and loose raisins. I really prefer savoury snacks, so I've also added a pack of lunchbox sized Peperami. Oh, and my secret vices are combined in one bar of coffee flavoured dark Swiss chocolate. If this all seems a bit excessive for six days on the mountain, I should point out I'm expecting to share some of my supplies with guides and porters. I've also been experimenting with fruit-flavoured electrolyte powders (mostly even more disgusting than the over-sweet snacks), and worst of all, the ultimate horror – energy gels. They are foul; horrible tasting and even worse consistency. Research has indicated they're both vital for success on summit-night, but I'm not convinced I'll be able to stomach them if I'm feeling nauseous. I'll pack both with the intention of using them, but suspect they'll end up as part of my final gifts to the guides.

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