Trip to Kilimanjaro - September 2003

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A porter with a view to Kilimanjaro near ShiraAs most people I knew about Kilimanjaro in Africa but I had never given much thought to the fact that it is possible to climb this mountain without too much effort. When Gayle (a friend of my wife Nikki) came to visit us in Norway in early May 2003 she mentioned that she was planning on climbing Kilimanjaro together with her sister Avril and her boyfriend Matt. I became interested because it sounded like a great challenge and it stuck to my mind. When Gayle left I told her to keep me updated on when the climbing would take place so that I could maybe join them. In the beginning of July I got a mail from Gayle saying that the climb would take place in the end of September. The only “problem” at this point was that my wife Nikki is not really into trekking. But I told her that this was something that I wanted to do and she said “just do it…just leave me out of it” :-)

So in early July 2003 I had decided that this was something that I wanted to do and from there I moved on to the planning phase. I didn’t know much about the Kilimanjaro trekking to start with but luckily there are trip reports to be found on the internet. In addition to reading stuff on the net I bought a book from Trailblazer (Kilimanjaro - A trekking guide to Africa's highest mountain by Henry Stedman). This book was pretty nice to have because it dealt with all sorts of topics such as what to bring, how to get there, which tour guides to use, description of the different routes and so on.

My motto was “bad equipment will not stop me from reaching the top”. Due to this I started focusing on what I needed to bring and the first thing I bought was a pair of good trekking boots. I started taking long walks to walk in the boots and at the same time I gave much thought about what I would wear on the mountain. I was a bit worried about the summit night because some sites said that it could be as low as -20 degrees (-4 degrees Fahrenheit). One should think that since I live in Norway I would be prepared for low temperatures. But I live in Stavanger on the south west coast of Norway and this is a place that has a costal climate…this means that we have mild winters and cool summers. So I had to start shopping lots of stuff to be prepared for a cold summit night. I have posted a lot more information about the equipment that I used in the section "Let's talk about equipment".

Between Barranco and Karanga - from the left: Gard, porter Amani, Matt, Avril and GayleAs mentioned earlier we were 4 people that were going to make an attempt for the summit. It was quite a multi national expedition by the way. Gayle and Avril are both brought up in South Africa but they moved to New Zealand in their late teens. And in the last few years they have been living and working in the UK. Matt is from the UK and I’m from Norway. A lot of mails were sent back and forth as we started to plan From the garden at Marangu hotelthe trip itself. The main topic to start with was of course which tour company we should use. Everyone that wants to climb Kilimanjaro must bring along a licensed guide and there are a number of companies to choose from. We started out with quite a few names on the list but in the end we landed on Marangu hotel. We ended up with this company due to reports that we read on the net and based on recommendations from people that Gayle/Avril knew. The company was a bit more expensive than other tour companies but it would turn out that we had made the right decision because they were very serious about their business.

Another topic that was up for a debate for a short while was which route we should take to get to the top. The most popular route is the Marangu route where you stay in little huts on the way to the top. We went for the Machame route which is a longer, more scenic and were you stay in tents. This route is also supposed to be less crowded compared to the Marangu route.

One of the questions that we all asked ourselves was of course “how fit do you have to be do get to the top”. Well, I tried to prepare the best I could and I walked quite a lot (I have posted more information about the training that I did in the section "Get in shape") and I went to Preikestolen 4 times during the summer and I went twice to Kjerag. I also tried to bike a bit during the summer and towards the end I also played a bit of squash.

Even if I had given much thought about what I was going to use on the mountain I still had a bit of a panic attack when I was packing my duffel bag before leaving home. All of a sudden I wasn’t sure how much I was going to bring and I had problem getting the walking poles packed in the bag. In the end I did get everything packed and I think the bag weighed about 17 Kg (37 lbs.) when I left home. On the 26th of September 2003 I was ready to fly of to Tanzania to meet the challenge. On the next page you can read my "Day by day diary".

Back to Kilimanjaro index pageGet in touch if you have any questionsMove to the next chapter: Day by day diary