Physical Requirements for Climbing Kilimajaro
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain in the world and one of the Seven Summits. Despite its extreme height and diverse climates, climbing Kilimanjaro is possible for anyone with a good level of fitness. The chosen route to tackle Kilimanjaro is the Machame Route, which will take about six to nine days.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is considered to be a strenuous exercise and specific physical preparation is required in order to be able to complete the ascent. Physical fitness should not be underestimated; it is vital in order to be able to handle the altitude changes, cold nights and long days on the trail. There is no specific training program available as every person is different and all will have different levels of fitness, however, a training regimen should be developed.
It is important to maintain a level of physical fitness throughout the year prior to attempting the climb. Building up muscle overall will assist greatly in helping to carry the extra weight of the pack when climbing. It is better to focus on aerobic exercises such as running, biking and swimming as these activities will improve the body’s ability to use oxygen and increase the likelihood of successful acclimatization.
Equipment Necessary for Climbing Kilimanjaro
The first step to climbing Kilimanjaro is gathering all of the necessary equipment. The key pieces of equipment should include but not limited to; a sleeping bag, waterproof outerwear, hiking boots, long socks and liner gloves, a hiking pole, a daypack, and multiple layers of clothing. The specific items will depend on the time of year and the route chosen as Montane environments can require further items for extreme cold weather.
The daypack is especially important as it is used to carry everything during the day and is often the most important piece of equipment as it will help to support the body weight and is where the extra food and water will be stored. It should not be too large or too heavy, but just the right size to comfortably haul the things needed for the climb. A personal choice of the type of food and snacks that should be taken on the climb is recommended for personal preferences, however, it is essential to have high energy snacks.
Reccomended Guiding Services
Due to the relatively difficult terrain, safety protocols, and unpredictable environment on the mountain, it is strongly recommended to use a registered guiding service to assist when climbing Kilimanjaro. They should be medically trained and have access to necessary emergency rescue services should something occur along the route. Hiring a registered guide will ensure that all safety protocols are adhered to, and that the route chosen is safe.
There are many registered tour companies and guides available, however, it is essential to do research to make sure the company is registered, has the proper equipment and necessary experience to handle the challenge of Kilimanjaro. The guides will provide help and assistance to get to each camp, provide advice regarding food and water, and also take into account the interpretation of weather and trail conditions.
Preparing for Altitude Sickness
In order to effectively handle the altitude changes on Kilimanjaro, it is essential to be aware of the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), which is brought on by the rapid decrease in air pressure as the altitude increases. AMS can be debilitating, so it is important that risks are managed beforehand.
Understanding the effects of altitude on the human body will help to better prepare for tackling Kilimanjaro. Allowing sufficient time for acclimatization is important and will depend on the route taken, however, usually three to four days. Making sure to take things slow and setting small rise-altitude goals is another way to better manage the challenges that come with high altitude. Eating light meals, drinking plenty of water, and using oxygen to help speed up acclimatization can also aid in the process.
Understand the Environmental Impact
It is important to be aware of the potential environmental impact to Kilimanjaro and the surrounding areas, especially due to the increasing number of trekkers attempting the climb. Taking specific steps to reduce the ecological impact is essential.
Firstly, it is essential for tourists to ensure that their waste is disposed of properly. Take eco-friendly measures such as re-usable water bottles, bringing organic and biodegradable food wrappers, and reusable eating utensils. Doing research to determine which tour companies are operating under sustainable practices is also important. The tour companies should practice ‘leave no trace’ policies, and should be using environment friendly practices such as maintaining trails and using solar powered cooking.
Pack the Proper Nutrition
For long hikes and expeditions, nutrition is essential; without proper nutrition, it will be difficult to complete the climb. A body needs food to fuel energy and climbing Kilimanjaro will be a test of not just physical ability but nutrition too.
The intake of high-energy snacks and large-scale meals are recommended, as this is an important way to maintain energy levels and focus on the task at hand. Having a balanced diet alongside energy snacks will help to ensure that the body has all the necessary nutrients. It is important to pack lightweight food such as energy bars, nuts, dried fruits, and jerky for snacks. For lunch and dinner, it is essential to consume carbohydrate rich meals such as ramen, instant noodles, pasta and rice as these will provide plenty of energy for the climb up the mountain.
Prioritise Safety Measures
Safety must always be a priority when attempting any kind of Kilimanjaro climb; undertaking the climb without the necessary precautions is both dangerous and irresponsible. Above all else, the introduction of proper safety protocol is necessary.
Basic safety measures include; obtaining proper clothing and equipment as mentioned previously, understanding the environment and climate, and making sure to only use registered tour operators. Additionally, it is important to understand the importance of altitude and acclimatization, and being able to source emergency help and rescue services if needed.
The Challenges of Adaptability
Kilimanjaro is a great challenge and provides an opportunity for personal growth and adaptation. Adapting to the environment, conditions and altitudes can be a key factor for success when attempting to reach the summit. The climbs are very demanding and the key is to have a mindset that focuses on adapting and learning rather than achieving.
When situations present themselves, it is important to be able to adapt and use the available resources to overcome and deal with the situation. Having the proper knowledge and skillset is important, however, Kilimanjaro will undoubtedly present its own set of challenges and it is important to be able to work through these as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Physical and Mental Training
To tackle Kilimanjaro successfully, both physical and mental training are essential. Preparing the body requires physical exercises such as running and biking in order to build stamina, strength and resilience. Additionally, the mind must also be trained for the psychological challenges of the climb such as managing fatigue, sleep deprivation and staying motivated, as these are all key factors of a successful ascent.
Having a strong determination and positive attitude is essential in order to conquer Kilimanjaro. It is often the mental aspect of the climb which will determine its success or failure, and it is important to focus on being motivated and positive as this will lead to a successful outcome.
Knowledgeable Guiding Services
In order to increase the likelihood of success, it is important to use a knowledgeable and experienced guiding service. Registered tour companies in Tanzania are full of guides with in-depth knowledge of the terrain and have access to necessary emergency rescue services should the situation arise.
The guides will provide the necessary advice regarding food and water, will have the right equipment and skillset to effectively manage any technical sections of the ascent and will have a great understanding of the weather conditions. Utilizing a knowledgeable local guide or guide service is also beneficial in order to gain further insight and knowledge of the local environment, animals and culture.
Reliable Support Structures
The support from friends and family during the ascent is incredibly important, as it can help tackle the challenges of the climb. Having a good support network and reliable back-up assistance is essential for climbers to stay motivated and continue to push for the summit.
Having experienced people with proper knowledge and experience of Kilimanjaro can help to motivate and guide climbers in their own ascent. It is important to remember that the journey should be one of support and camaraderie in order to ensure a successful and enjoyable experience of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Understand the Infrastructure
Having an understanding of the infrastructure currently in place on Kilimanjaro is important when preparing for a climb. Although there are several camps and shelters that have been built and maintained, they may not be available or could be too dangerous to access due to weather and mountain changes.
Knowing what kind of tents and shelters are available and which routes have access to them is important so climbers can plan around these restrictions. Furthermore, educating oneself on the risks that could be present due to changes in altitude is also important in order to plan a successful, safe and enjoyable trip.
Use Appropriate Gear
The appropriate gear must be packed in order to make sure you have the necessary equipment for a successful climb. Packing the right technology such as GPS units, headlamps and a first-aid kit are all essential items that should be taken.
Additionally, having the proper boots and socks to navigate the terrain is important, as carrying heavy loads of equipment for extended periods of time can cause blisters and other injuries. Furthermore, having the necessary layers of clothing and waterproof outerwear is important to protect from the elements, as temperatures can drop extremely low on Kilimanjaro.