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Kilimanjaro Blog 1: Getting Started

by George Coombes | May 01, 2019

LawNet’s Member Services Manager George Coombes on the challenges within a Challenge!

Once the decision was made to take on this special LawNet Challenge, preparations began – although Kilimanjaro doesn’t need specialist equipment, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to think about.

There are an amazing 499 companies which offer Kilimanjaro experiences, so some research was required to get this down to a manageable number to consider. It came down to a potential 15 companies before I settled on TK (Team Kilimanjaro).

The main attraction with this particular company was that they offer a unique option called TK Lemosho. This bespoke route combines existing routes including a scenic, little-used detour known as the Northern Circuit to join a portion of the Lemosho route with a portion of the Rongai – and it avoids the busiest areas on the mountain. The clincher was reading this article which swung it in their favour!

My TK contact David Squire has been fantastic, giving me and the team lots of info and advice. One of the other positive features of TK is they offer climber tracking – so it will be possible to follow our progress.

Once our event company had been chosen my research into kit began…  

When we trek to the top of Kilimanjaro, we’ll go through 5 ecological zones.  On day one it is likely to be 30 degrees…. but on summit day it will be -20 degrees!  So, it’s all about layers, and lots of them! I’ve read that not having the right kit can make the whole experience really uncomfortable.  I’ve spent a lot of time researching what’s needed, and not only in terms of clothing but equipment also.

Our event company has lots of information on their website and they have sent an official kit checklist for us to follow.  It’s really important we have the right equipment as at Londorossi Gate there will be an official kit inspection. 

Check out the PDF to see what's on the list.

As I’ve worked my way through the list (and much to the annoyance of my wife!) I have slowly taken over our spare bedroom as I begin to organise what I have and what I still need to buy. 

Luckily, being a keen walker, I already have most of the clothing, but I’ve still ended buying a fair amount of cold weather clothes and unfortunately my 2-year-old, and very comfortable, walking boots started leaking in February so I had to make an unexpected purchase there! 

Whilst I have pretty much all the clothing, I still need to buy key equipment items such as:

• Walking poles - I don’t usually use poles but for trek like this they’ll be a godsend on my aching knees
• Head torch (with spare batteries) – We’ll need this for around the camp at night and for our summit attempt which starts in the middle of the night! 
• Sleeping bag liner – for that extra bit of warmth
• Duffle Bag – I’ve yet to buy this to put all my stuff in!
• Plus a few more bits and bobs such as Vaseline, lip balm, sun protection, wet wipes, toiletries etc.

There is a lot to take and what makes it even more challenging is that there are strict weight rules when trekking Kilimanjaro.  No duffle bag can weigh more than 15kg… something that we’ll all have to be conscious of, but something also that should help us streamline our packing and not take anything extra that’s not required. 

During my kit research I’ve found it really useful, and inspiring, reading other people’s travel blogs on trekking up Kilimanjaro.  As well as giving tips into the type of clothing and equipment required, they have also given me some really useful tips, such as:

• Put your next day clothes into the sleeping bag with you at the bottom of the bag, so they are not cold and crispy when you go to put them on the next day.
• Put any electrical items with you in the sleeping bag, and in a thermal sock or something similar, as electrical items don’t like the cold!
• Even if you’re cold don’t go fully clothed into your sleeping bag…. you’ll be warmer just keeping your thermals on (I don’t fully understand this but apparently, it’s all about trapped heat not being dispersed!).
• Wet wipes – are a must!
• Don’t worry about changing your base layer/top (and underwear!) every day.  We’ll all smell the same at the end so just embrace it!
• Bring lots of your favourite treats with you as you’ll need a motivation & energy ‘pick-me up’ at some point and share with your guides/porters – these guys look after you so treat them well...!
• Water bottles - Carry water bottles upside down on summit night and keep them inside your coat (water freezes from the top down!)

There’s just 40 days to go – so I better get on and get my missing items!!   

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