Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Kilimanjaro: Helpful Tips

Before leaving for Kilimanjaro I spent a lot of time searching the internets for little tidbits of info that might help me survive the climb :)
Now I'm passing along my own tips in hopes that someone finds my blog in their preparations and that it may be of some help. Here's my list of 6 things you should remember to bring:

1. Plastic Water Bottle
At night, fill a bottle with hot water and toss it into your sleeping bag. I cradled my nalgene like a baby every night because camping on a mountain is COLD! In the morning, after it had cooled, I'd add an electrolyte flavour tablet and carry it with me to drink throughout the day. Your taste buds will thank you for having something different to drink other than plain old water or tea! Also, my camelbak tubing froze on summit night (even with blowing the water back through), but the water in my nalgene was fine.

2. Entertainment
Bring something to do while you're hiding in your sleeping bag after dinner, trying to keep warm. I brought my iPhone and played games to keep me occupied and also downloaded a few Gossip Girl episodes to watch. If you don't bring some sort of entertainment; a) you'll fall asleep at 7pm every night, or b) you'll freeze to death trying to do stuff outside of your sleeping bag. Playing cards was a no go, but then again, we're big wimps.

3. Gaters
Buy or rent gaters ($1/day). They are worth every penny and keep dust and stones out of your shoes and socks. I wore them everyday and was thankful for them everyday.
See, look at how dusty I am!
4. Diamox
Our guide suggested we start taking Diamox (altitude sickness medication) only if/when we started showing signs of sickness. On the third night we had slight headaches and starting taking a half a pill each morning and night, except for on summit night when we took an entire pill. This removed all signs of sickness and we pretty much felt 100% after starting the medication. I'm not sure how our climb would have played out without the Diamox, but I do know there were plenty of sick people up at the top. FYI, it's easier and cheaper to pick up Diamox once you get to Tanzania, rather than getting a prescription at home.

5. Snacks
Lots of snacks, bring em. After walking for a few hours you'll need energy and you'll also need to replace your electrolytes if you're sweating. We brought shot blocks, goo, nut clusters, fruit leather, etc. Gum was also a nice treat, especially when the water wasn't tasting so great. Bring enough to share with your guides. They get hungry too.

6. Hire a Toilet
For $10/day you can have your own private toilet tent! Sooooooo worth it, in my opinion. I've never in my life been more happy to see a wooden seat with a pail under it. However, you'll need to bring your own tp.
I hope this short list of things to bring helps somebody out there and that I didn't just bore all of you readers who have no intention of ever climbing a mountain!


  1. OMG!! It was so interesting to read this. I am so glad that you did all that research before you went. I laughed when I read about the toilet.... but I am with you on that one... so worth it!!!

  2. Fruit leather - freezing temperatures- goo - portable bathrooms - dust - no sleep - medicine just so you can breath. No, you couldn't have possibly scared anyone with that stuff - lol.

    You guys are amazing!!!