Kilimattjaro

My journey to reach the roof of Africa


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Christmas Expansion – People, Kit but not my Waistline.

Christmas overeatingKilimattjaro is expanding to a team of 4, I’m excited and delighted to being joined by my friends Jeff, Paul and Debbie.  Debbie’s a GP and Jeff joked that he’s very glad to have two stretcher bearers and a personal doctor to look after him on the mountain. I guess Paul and I need to get working on our carrying skills then!  It’s great to have them all on board and I’m really looking forward to sharing the Kilimanjaro experience with them.  I’m also going to appreciate having others to train with, discuss gear and generally put up with me being a Kilimanjaro obsessive bore!

I’ve been adding to my collection of kit with a recently purchased North Face 90 Litre Duffel bag which I grabbed in the sales. This bomb proof bag will be on the head of a porter bringing my camping items / additional clothing up to each day’s  campsite . We’re limited to 15KG in this porterage baggage and I think we’ll easily reach that figure.  I’ve also invested in a set of Leki Carbon walking poles which are super light and also have a photo adaptor to allow them to be a monopod for my camera. I’ll be trying those out on my next walk early in Jan.

I much prefer being outdoors when I can but as the weather has been wet recently so I’ve been ditching the bike for sessions on our Elliptical Trainer which recently was brought out of storage. My weight is around 15 ¾ stone (220lb /100KG)  at present and has been pretty flat for the last month (I’m actually pretty happy with that given it’s the Christmas period with all its associated opportunities for excess). Santa also brought me a set of gym gear I can travel with (thanks Martine x). I’ve a lot of business trips coming up in the New Year so now I can ensure my training doesn’t lapse by getting in the hotel gyms.

Whilst my general exercise and weight reduction are all going to help with cardiovascular fitness it’s really importantly I get plenty of long walking in to build up the appropriate muscles, stamina and get comfortable with all our kit.  I’m scheduling a number of walks per months with my local ramblers group to get myself out into the hills. On top of that the team are looking at doing a formal training weekend in Snowdonia where we can do a couple of days back to back with an experienced mountain guide and to get the benefit of their knowledge and experience.  We’ve also booked ourselves on a Night Hike in April that will give us the chance to test our head torches and get some practice of hiking in the dark.

2013 is going to be busy – and I can’t wait. All the best for the New Year!

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Go Outdoors Go the Distance For Me

I bought some gaiters last month from Go Outdoors (a UK outdoor store chain who seem to lead their offer based around competitive pricing, special discounts and promos). So whilst I’m happy to buy at rock bottom prices when the gaiters failed the first time I used them had pretty low expectations around getting a refund (I didn’t want the same brand / same  replacement item). I figured a “volume” player with lower margins probably wouldn’t have / couldn’t afford good customer service on the flip side of a sale.

How wrong was I?  Go Outdoors took the item back without question, scanned the receipt and issued a refund to my credit card. 2 minutes from start to finish.

For outdoor gear where I’m not looking for specialist advice then Go Outdoor’s my first stop to check pricing.  Where I’m looking for more informed help like when I was choosing my boots I’ll look to a more “value added” retailer. In the case of my boots I paid more but was grateful for the 30 min selection advice and fitting that my local Cotswolds Outdoors store provided.

Anyway, without trying to sound like a sponsored advertorial Go Outdoors’ customer service exceeded my expectations. Isn’t it nice when that happens?


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First Steps

Today I’m walking around with a John Wane like stagger as my leg muscles provide their feedback on yesterday’s trekking around the Blackstone Edge area in the Pennies.  Clocked up around 10 miles as we wandered around and up and down and I managed to keep up with the group (albeit at a price my legs are paying today!). I found the extended uphill stuff certainly got my heart rate up but I was pleasantly surprised to be keeping with the group’s pace.   Next time out I’ll turn on my iPhone Cycling app as it’ll log the distance and elevation covered.

The weather forecast was for wind and rain and whilst the rain held off until lunchtime by the afternoon we all got a soaking. It was however a good test of some of my recently purchased gear. My new Meindl Burma Pro GTX boots kept my feet warm, dry and blister free. I really like the Osprey Atmos 2 35 Rucksack and its optional hydration bladder too; so comfortable to wear as the weight seems to be taken mainly on your hips, not your shoulders.  I had a less positive experience with my Trekmates Cairngorm Gaiters however as their calf elastic gave way on the first pull to tighten the top – they’ll be going back to Go Outdoors this week. Next on my kit shopping list will be some breathable waterproof over-trousers, an absolute must for UK walking and handy to have for the lower levels of Kilimanjaro where precipitation falls as rain.

I’m going to try to get at least one walk in per month for the near term and then step up the tempo as Kilimanjaro gets closer in 2013. I’m still deciding on a date – either June or Sept depending on if anyone else wants to join me along with factoring in some family commitments.  Still researching companies to provide the climb with but keep coming back to Team Kilimanjaro who’s web site is by far the most comprehensive I’ve found and written in a candid (but perhaps a little verbose) style. They’re run by Brits and directly manage the climbs unlike many companies who are just agents. I’m leaning towards their Rongai route which they suggest offers good acclimatisation and based upon my huffing and puffing up Blackstone Edge yesterday that sounds like just what I’ll need.


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Ramblings…

Just recovering from a stinking cold for the last week so have not been out on the bike until last night when I rode over to a new member’s night for my local rambling club. The best training for walking up Kili is unsurprisingly going to be going walking. I figure joining an organised group will help me get out and about without the hassle / risk of going it alone. I’m hoping that it’ll also provide a useful source of advice when it comes to selecting kit.

Talking of kit my new favourite topic is pouring over the various UK outdoor sport retailer’s web sites. Never adverse to a little bit of retail therapy I’m going to enjoy my research and purchasing. As those who know me will confirm I can be prone to being “all the gear, no idea” so I’ll be tempering my enthusiasm as much as possible to try and minimise unnecessary purchases. There’s so much stuff to get though – here’s an example Kilimanjaro kit list from a Kili Trip organiser I’m looking at.

Oh and I’ve a lost just over a stone so far with me currently tipping the scales at a 15st 12lb (101KG) . Still a fair chunk to lose but it feels nice to see some progress (and the slightest hint of cheek bones appearing back on my face!)

Right, time to buy some boots and a woolly bobble hat…