A brief history: My great friend and climbing buddy, Bruce, and I over the years.


KilimanjaroIn Spring 2012 I was leading a voluntary service trip in Tanzania. A group of students from an American girls’ school, and their parents, had come to Tanzania to build a new kitchen in a primary school in Moshi. I had the honour to work for and get to know some fascinating people. Among those people were Bruce, his incredible wife and wonderful daughter. I connected with the family instantly.

The team and I spent a week in Moshi under the watchful gaze of Kilimanjaro, the clouds shrouding and revealing her as we worked hard and succeeded to build the kitchen, install the water, fix a broken fence, paint a number of buildings and more. Bruce and I got chatting about my previous visits to Tanzania and Kilimanjaro; one day he turned to me and asked that if a space ever opened up on a trip to Kilimanjaro to let him know.

The following year, 2013, I was scheduled to return to Kilimanjaro twice, once at the end of May and again at the start of October. My October trip looked bleak –  last minute cancellations threatened whether the trip could run. I had intermittently kept in touch with Bruce and his wife since the service trip, so a couple of months before the trip was due to depart I emailed him and asked ‘Do you want to join me on Kilimanjaro?’. As luck would have it he was in the middle of a work sabbatical so took the chance and said yes.

Kili summitDuring our successful climb of Kilimanjaro (100% summit for the team – awesome), Bruce and I chatted about what was next on the list. Just before the trek I’d read something on Twitter about Mt Rainier so imagine my surprise when Bruce said he was considering it. His daughter was at college in Seattle so it made perfect sense for him. Upon agreeing that it would be an incredible peak to climb the plan was born.

10 months later, August 2014, I was on a flight to Seattle. Bruce and I had booked places on the International Mountain Guides (IMG) Mt. Rainier Glacier Skills Seminar. 6.5 days of learning all about glacier camping, safe glacier travel (and crevasse rescue), ice climbing, belaying and rappelling and loads more, while ascending up the mountain putting our new knowledge to the test. Our guides Dallas Glass, Jonathan Shrock and Betsy Dain-Owens (who joined us for the summit push) were phenomenal. Our fellow climbers were the best and we all got on so well. It was the best mountain experience I’d ever had, and that still stands two years later. I still get goosebumps thinking about how awesome it was.

Mt RainierDuring this trip Bruce and I had the conversation again, “what’s next?”. We both agreed we wanted to climb Aconcagua but felt we needed to take our time, get some more exposure to altitude and build up our mountain experience before tackling it so we decided on Mt Elbrus (which you can read about here). The theory was that the Mt Elbrus north route would put our glacier skills and roped travel knowledge to use, while adding in the extra challenge of higher altitude as Mt Rainier is ‘just’ 4392m /14,411ft.

Two months later, October 2014, we had signed up for Elbrus and intensive training had commenced but still the dream of Aconcagua was there. We talked about it a lot. Around February 2015 IMG announced their 2016 Aconcagua departure dates and guide names.  Our Mt Rainier guide Johnny Shrock was guiding on our preferred departure date – it was a no brainer. In April 2015, just four months before jetting off for Mt Elbrus, Bruce and I submitted our Aconcagua applications to IMG to climb in January 2016…

What I packed for trekking Kilimanjaro in October


This is the exact list of items I packed for my most recent Kilimanjaro trek as a tour manager for The Different Travel Company for St Elizabeth Hospice in Ipswich on the Rongai route (12th – 21st October 2013).

Clothes and shoes:
Scarpa leather hiking boots
4x pairs trek socks (mainly Bridgedale)
1x Compression/flight socks
1x Thermal top (pyjamas)
1x Thermal bottoms (pyjamas)
TNF Boulder Penelope shirt
Trespass lightweight trek trousers
Rab Power Stretch pants
1x Altura L/S merino base layer
1x Odlo Ninja base layer
1x Striders Edge L/S full zip hoody
1x Mountain Hardwear waterproof jacket
1x Rab Neutrino Plus down jacket
1x Rab Generator primaloft jacket
1x Marmot PreCip waterproof full-zip pants
1x Trilby hat
1x Warm hat
1x Buff
1x Mittens
1x Liner gloves
1x Fingerless gloves
10x underwear
2x Shock Absorber Sports bras
Cheap emergency poncho
Work t-shirt
Sandals for Moshi
2x Dresses for Moshi
1x Pashmina
Bra
First Aid Kit:Dramamine anti-nausea medication
Sterile gloves
Antiseptic wipes
Plasters
Wound dressings
Blister plasters
Antiseptic cream
Ibuprofen
Antihistamine cream
Antimalarial medication
Antihistamines
Paractamol
Imodium
Zinc oxide tape
Throat lozenges
Micropore tape
Tiger balm
Chapstick
Ibuprofen gel
Mouth ulcer gel
Diamox
Rehydration
Scissors
Tweezers
Off! insect repellent
Pack of kleenex
Food/Drink:2x Supreme Protein cookies n cream
Powerbar protein plus vanilla
Berry flavour Zero tablets
4x army ration ‘cherry beverage powder’
2x Asda fizzy cherry cola bottles
1x bag Milky Way Magic Stars
1x berry and cherry dried fruit
6x Mr Kipling lemon slices
Biox Aqua tablets and Steripen
1l Sigg bottle with thermal cover
Camelbak 2l
750ml water bottle
Miscellaneous:Plastic bags of various sizes
Paperwork / work manuals / Kili book
E-tickets
Cash and cards
Passport & copy
Sunglasses
2x Pens
Gaffa tape roll
2x Karabiners
6x Hand warmers
1x Padlock
Toiletries:Travel size sun screen
Body spray
Panty liners
Tampons
Moisturiser
Travel sized shampoo
Travel shower gel
Loofah
Razor
Antiperspirant deodorant
Hairbrush
Toothpaste and toothbrush
Baby wipes
Hand sanitizer
Toilet paper (1.5 rolls)
Nappy bags
3x hair bands / 1x headband
Electronics:Camera, spare batteries & battery Charger
Video camera
Chest mount for GoPro
2x GoPro
Mobile phone x2 and charge wire
New Trent portable battery pack
Petzl Tikka 2 head torch
2x spare head torch batteries
Spare LED torch
Luggage:Mountain Warehouse 100l Wet & Dry bag
Small holdall for gear to leave in Moshi
35 litre Berghaus daypack
2x Exped waterproof dry bags
Sleeping:Rab Expedition 1000 sleeping bag
Snugpak Thermalon sleeping bag liner
Ear plugs and eye mask
Thermarest 40th Anniversary Edition

1393096_10151611049186467_122651395_nObviously many of the items above include things I only used in Moshi or while travelling. My final kit bag for the mountain weighed just under 10kg and there are a few things I didn’t end up using that probably account for 750g:
The protein bars, dried fruit, one pack of the fizzy cherry cola bottles and most of the Magic Stars.

For this particular trip the only thing I wish I had brought was a few more packs of beverage powder. The purification that our porters use to sterilise our water is very chemical-tasting and I didn’t have quite enough to mask the taste. Keeping hydrated is so important and being put off the taste of water is not ideal.

Outfit of the day – Kilimanjaro Summit Night!


Here is what I wore on summit night, Kilimanjaro, Friday May 31st 2013.  The conditions from 4,600m (Barafu Camp) to summit were very windy, snow underfoot and approximately -22C with wind chill. I was toasty warm all the way up, and sweltering all the way down!DSCF9806

 

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