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Climb Kilimanjaro without training! by Paul Deakin 20th February 2018 Coach potato to climbing Kilimanjaro

Climb Kilimanjaro without training!

First bloke in pub: “What do you reckon to that Kilimanjaro, then?”
Second bloke: “Kelly w-“
First bloke: “Stop! We’ve done that gag. I’m talking about Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, beloved destination of high-altitude trekkers and the highest mountain in Africa.
Second bloke: “Dunno really. Why d’you ask?
First bloke: “I’m thinking of having a crack at it next year with a few of the lads but I’m a bit worried about the training I’ll need to do to get myself fit and ready.”
Second bloke: “Training? Training? You can climb Kilimanjaro without training! Anyone can! I can!”
First bloke: “I don’t think so…”
Second bloke: “Oh yeah? Why not?”
First bloke: “You’re round.”
Second bloke: “No it isn’t, I got the last beers in. Stop changing the subject.
First bloke: “No – I mean you’re ‘round’, as in tubby; portly; corpulent; carrying a bit of spare timber. See what I’m getting at? To climb Kilimanjaro successfully, you’ve got to be in shape and reasonably fit. And not suffering from pork pie retention like yourself.
Second bloke: “Cheeky so-and-so. This might look like a beer gut to the uninitiated but it is, in fact, a finely tuned energy storage system. Anyway, go ahead and give me a few good reasons why I – or anyone else - shouldn’t climb Kilimanjaro without training.”
First bloke: “Alright then, cop a load of this…”

Reason 1: Kilimanjaro is a proper mountain, innit

Mount KilimanjaroClimbing a mountain is not an undertaking that should be taken lightly. Even though you’re looking at well-established trails and the majority of your gear will be carried by porters, you’re still looking at a long and steady trek uphill (a long way uphill: Kilimanjaro’s elevation is 5895 metres) and back down again. If you attempt to take on a trek of this nature without preparing from it your knees (and other joints) aren’t likely to thank you for it; neither are your lungs or heart. The reality is that you can’t go directly from pub to peak without getting at least some decent trekking experience first; if the tiredness didn’t finish you off in the first couple of days on Kilimanjaro, the blisters might. And no, you won’t find the African equivalent of the Dog and Duck halfway up so’s you can nip off for a quick ‘refresher’.

Reason 2: The higher you go, the thinner the air gets

High-altitude trekking. The clue’s in the name there, really. As you climb higher, the oxygen content in the air you’re breathing reduces. If, like Pub Bloke 2, you’re someone who’s apt to wheeze by the time you’ve summited a three-rung step ladder then you’d be asking for serious trouble by trying to climb Kilimanjaro without training. You see, it’s all about altitude sickness (sometimes called Acute Mountain Sickness or AMS) and how well you can cope with it. Regular exercise and training will help to improve your respiratory and cardiovascular performance – these will help your body to cope with depleted oxygen levels. Eating your fish and chips to the top of Blackpool Tower (elevation: 158 metres), sadly, will not. In the UK, at least, you’re better off trying to get some decent hill walking or mountain trekking in for a few months before your trip to Tanzania. Even then, you’ll still want to spend a few days getting used to a higher altitude before you begin exerting yourself on Mount Kilimanjaro.

Second bloke in pub: “Altitude sickness? Listen mate, you’re talking to someone who did every ride at Alton Towers the day after Ted Hooper’s stag night. Admittedly they renamed a couple of the rides after I’d been on them (‘Chunder Mountain’ and ‘The Vomit Comet’, I seem to remember). Altitude sickness can’t be that bad, can it?”
First bloke: “Firstly, you are disgusting. Secondly, let me explain…”

Altitude chart

Reason 3: You really, really don’t want altitude sickness

Being in good health should be one of your priorities for attempting a high-altitude trek such as the ascent of Kilimanjaro. Think about it. You don’t want to start this adventure of a lifetime feeling a bit rough, only to feel progressively worse as you climb higher and your body begins to respond to reduced oxygen. 

Altitude sickness affects everyone differently, but common symptoms include headache or dizziness, shortness of breath and muscle tiredness. Best case, you should be able to manage these symptoms with everyday painkillers and they should settle down as your body grows more accustomed to the altitude. But if you begin to feel even rougher, start throwing up or hallucinating or experience any other kind of severe symptom it’s time to call it quits and head back down the mountain. If you try to carry on with the trek you could be toast. The point is; put in a bit of training and preparation beforehand, look after yourself properly on the climb, and you can spare yourself – and everyone else who’s trekking with you – a whole lot of heartache.

Reason 4: You need to be mentally prepared too

Even if you’ve got yourself physically fit, increased your lung and heart capacity, laid off the booze and the late nights for a few months and acclimatised to high altitude, you’ll need to be mentally prepared for the challenge too. The ascent of Mount Kilimanjaro isn’t a technical climb – so you can ditch the ropes, harnesses and helmets – but you will need stamina, determination and positivity; don’t underestimate how big an impact your state of mind will have on your success at reaching the summit.

There are several techniques that can be used to prepare your mind for a high-altitude trek. Firstly, do everything you can to establish the safety of what you’re doing. Trekking with a professional outfit whose priority is the safety of their guests (like, for instance, err… Kandoo Adventures) means you’re less likely to end up a gibbering nervous wreck if things get a little tricky. As you’re climbing, don’t let your mind wander or fret about what might happen; live in the moment and focus on enjoying where you are and what you’re doing right now. If you feel that you’re tiring, set yourself mini-goals that are easy to achieve; you can make it that next ridge 500 metres away, and when you do you can reward yourself with a five-minute stop to admire the view. Again, you can start practicing all of these little mind-training techniques – and maybe bung in a bit of basic meditation too – long before you set foot in Tanzania.

Second bloke: “OK, OK – I get the picture. What you’re telling me is that, realistically, I can’t climb Kilimanjaro without training for it first.”
First bloke: “Yeah; I’m not saying you’ve got to be like Usain Bolt or whatever, but as long as they’re moderately fit, healthy and prepared anyone – even you – can climb Kilimanjaro without doing themselves a mischief. And, of course, the rewards – trip to Africa, fabulous scenery, unforgettable trekking experience, brilliant sense of achievement – pay back the preparation in spades.”
Second bloke: “OK, you got me. I’d like a crack at Kilimanjaro too; mind if I train with you for next year?”
First bloke: “Course not! You might want to put down that packet of pork scratchings though. And if Kilimanjaro goes well who knows where we might go next? I mean, have you ever heard of Mera Peak?”
Second bloke: “You mean the acclaimed British comedian, writer, playwright, singer, journalist, producer and actress who starred in Goodness Gracious Me and The Kumars at Number 32?”
First bloke: “(sigh) No, that’s Meera Syal, you berk.”

This entry was written by Paul Deakin , posted in Kilimanjaro and tagged Climb Kilimanjaro


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