So here am I with a plane ticket to Africa, and a plan to climb a mountain. (Edit #1:And do a safari, which I still need to research, but that’s something else entirely.) (Edit #2: And go gorilla tracking in Rwanda)
You don’t just walk up a mountain. Especially not the highest peak in Africa. Sitting at 5895 metres (for everyone else, that’s 19, 341 feet) above sea level, you pass through four different climates on your way to Uhuru peak. The one thing going for Kili, is that it doesn’t require any actual mountain climbing. It really is just a hike up a mountain. But you still need some serious gear, and you do need to be in good physical shape.
I went down to my local Mountain Equipement Co-Op store the other night to pick up the beginnings of my kit. Previously, I got a pair of base-layers (long-sleeve top, and bottoms) and hand warmers at Sport Chek. Base-layers are pretty important – they help to wick away the sweat and keep you dry, and therefore warm.
But you also need boots. Not real heavy-duty mountaineering boots, but good trail boots that have ankle support, and somewhat water-proof. I ended up getting a pair of Vasque Breeze hiking boots. The reviews on the website sound promising, and one woman even used them on Kili a few years ago. They’re large enough to fit two pairs of socks – liners (to wick away the sweat, again) and a pair of thicker thermal ones to keep your feet warm. The two pairs also help to avoid blisters, not something you want happening halfway up a mountain.
I also picked up a wide-brimed oilskin hat. I’ll need something to protect the back of my head (both on Kili and on the safari) And sunglasses. I read in one guide that it is not uncommon for contact lenses to dry out on the windy summit of Kili, and pop right out. Yeah, that’s right. I’ll probably need to bring 2 extra pairs of contacts – one in case something happens, and one in case something happens to the pair that I had in case something happens!
Edit #3: This trip is moving so quickly, that in the time it took me to compose this post (which, granted, took me a few days) I found out some interesting information regarding Ethiopia, and booked a gorilla tracking expedition in Rwanda. Yeah, that’s right. I’m going gorilla tracking in Rwanda. Not to hunt, but to look at. So expect another two posts in the very near future!