My journey to reach the roof of Africa

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Our First Team Walk

teamLast Sunday we were on our 1st training walk where all four of our team have all been together. We hooked up with my local Ramblers group to go on an organised walk over the fells around Staveley in the Lake District. Jeff and I met Paul and Debs at Wills Café for a pre-hike drink (and sausage sandwich in Paul’s case) and headed off around 10.15am for our hike.  The weather was glorious and you can see our route and stats here.

Things I learned on this hike:

  • It’s bloody difficult to get 3L of fluid into my 3L hydration bladder once it’s installed in my pack. Next time I’m going to fill it first then install it. I also used some electrolyte tablets in the water – don’t know if they had much effect but as we’re told their good practice for Kili I figured I might as well get used to them.
  • My new Burghaus Choktoi Fleece is very warm and was soon ditched for a thin micro-fleece as the weather was mild. It should be just the ticket on a chilly Kilimanjaro though so I’m still happy with the purchase (got a killer price too from Go Outdoors’ price beat guarantee )
  • Carry some anti-inflammatory painkillers – one of our team twisted their knee and whilst we did have a bandage to strap it up none of us had any painkillers – a rookie mistake and already fixed by spending 79p in the local convenience store on the way back to the car.
  • I’m fitter but not there yet – on some of the extended uphill sections I broke into a heavy sweat but had no problem keeping up the pace. Nor did I have post hike aches the day after.
  • There’s a lovely  craft brewery with bar and restaurant in Staveley – pity I was driving and so passed on having a beer.

There are some photos from the walk on my Kilimattjaro facebook page. All in all a great walk and I’m looking forward to getting out with the team again soon. In the meantime I’m still getting in the gym about 3 times a week to work on my fitness.


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Donating Life

FTHPSC is unpredictable. Every sufferer experiences different symptoms which progress at different rates, some rapidly, some more slowly. In progressed cases Liver transplantation can often be their last chance.

Here in the UK there was a recent media campaign “from the heart”  which promoted organ donation.  As part of that campaign there were two videos about PSC suffers both of whose families happen to have also been supported by my chosen charity PSC Support. Take a moment to hear their stories – they’re both an inspiration and motivation to me.

Craig – a young family man who recently had a liver transplant.

Jade – a young women whose PSC has progressed to the point where she needs a new liver. Jade’s father was an organ donor after his unexpected death so her family has a unique perspective of both sides the subject.

Would you accept a donated organ if your life depend on it, or if a family member’s did? I suspect the vast majority of us would say yes –  I would! Signing up to be an organ donor doesn’t mean you any more likely to die. In fact you’re more likely to need a donor organ than to donate one.

When Martine was diagnosed with PSC and I began to educate myself about the condition I made sure I signed up to be an organ donor in the event of my death.  I’ve met many people who have gone through a liver transplant and the wonderful gift it is for them and their loved ones. Please consider registering to be an organ donor too and make your wishes known to your family.


Digging Some Retail Therapy

pocket_trowelI’m spending an inordinate amount of time online reading gear reviews and researching potential kit for Kilimanjaro.  I’m currently lusting after Berghaus’ Men’s Ramche 850 Fill Hydrodown Jacket as its very light and uses water resistant down filling (most down jackets don’t cope well with damp and quickly lose their insolative “loft”). I think this jacket would be just the job for summit night but I’m still shopping around trying to find a good deal as it isn’t cheap!  I’m also hankering after a thick fleece and waterproof shell jacket – possible a “3 in 1” style where they zip into each other. Apart from that I’ll need some base layers (probably Merino wool based to they don’t get stinky) and some head wear (sunhat and extreme cold mountain hat or balaclava). But whilst I continue my research and quest for killer discounts my gear pile is still growing. Whilst over in the USA last month on business I managed to fit in an evening tour of the local REI store and picked up the following:

Hydration –  MSR Alpine 1L Water Bottle as it had stellar reviews in a recent UK magazine. I’m currently planning to use this as a hot water bottle at night and during the day to carry an energy drink to complement the water / electrolyte mix in my Osprey 3L hydration bladder and insulated hose.

Sleeping –   A Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner for the sleeping bag. I plan to rent a sleeping bag from my climb operator as a good down bag that is rated to -10 / -20deg c is very expensive and I’d be unlikely to need it after the trip. Buying a liner give me both additional warmth and the peace of mind that I’m not touching much of a potentially unclean (or at least pre-used) bag. I also picked up a tiny COCOON Air-Core Pillow Ultralight inflatable pillow. I’ve since read some poor reviews for the pillow so I might end up resting my head on my jacket!

Personal Hygiene –  Multiple packs of Fresh Bath body wipes as I’ll be shower free for 8 days on the mountain (urgh) so these should help to keep my bits and bobs clean.  And for when nature calls whilst on the trail a delightful lightweight pocket trowel.


Should I Feel Good About Being Overweight?

I’m feeling happy this morning. With myBMI weight now dropped to around 15.5 stone (98 KG) my BMI has come down just to the “overweight” upper threshold. When I started out on my Killimattjaro project I was over 17.5 stone (111KG) which was clinically Obese – so it’s nice to see some progress. That said in reality nobody should be content to be overweight and I do want to get more weight off before June. With my gym work and being reasonably disciplined in my diet I’m sure there are more gains (losses?) to be had.