Mount Kilimanjaro stands tall and proud in Tanzania and is the highest mountain in Africa. It is one of the seven summits and an impressive 5895 meters tall. It has been attracting adventurous hikers and climbers from all over the world who have the audacity and ambition to conquer the mountain. The thrill of scaling the highest mountain on the African continent comes with great risks, and many climbers have underestimated the huge magnitude of the challenge and paid a heavy price. Learning how to climb Mt Kilimanjaro safely is essential before attempting to tackle the mountain.
Supplies and Preparation
It is important to have the right supplies when climbing Kilimanjaro, as the climb can be quite intense. A full set of clothes and layers, including snow proof jackets and thermals, solid and waterproof hiking boots, a large sturdy backpack with several small side pockets, a wide brimmed hat, and a good pair of polarized sunglasses are all necessary items. Hiking sticks, which reduce strain on your legs, can be rented for a nominal fee at the foot of the mountain.
Your daily menu should include high-energy snacks that are easily digestible, like trail mix, fresh fruit, and energy bars. High-calorie meals should be consumed before and after the climb – during the climb, concentrate on easily digestible foods and plenty of water. Bring enough water for the day and fill up at the last water source available before attempting to climb higher.
Your training should include endurance exercises like running, cycling, swimming and pull-ups, as well as squats and burpees for a full-body workout. Going for hikes in your neighborhood carrying all your supplies can help you build stamina and prepare for the climb.
Selecting the Route
There are 7 official routes that you can take to the summit, each with their own levels of difficulty and attractions. Climbers tend to go for the Marangu, Machame, Rongai or Lemosho routes as they all have walkable trails and many places to rest and enjoy the scenery. The Umbwe and Shira routes are more challenging and suited for experienced climbers and experts.
Tips for Climbing
Start your ascent in the early hours of the morning so the night’s cold can be used to your advantage and help you acclimate to the changing altitude. Pick a slow, steady pace and remember that everyone’s body adjusts differently. Take small frequent breaks to drink water, eat snacks and replenish your energy.
Safeguarding yourself against altitude sickness should be a priority. Symptoms like insomnia, nausea and headaches can take a toll on the body and ruin your attempt at the summit unless headaches, dizziness and breathlessness are treated immediately. Acclimatize at each camp and be aware of the weather and terrain changes.
High Altitude Techniques
The higher you ascend, the thinner the air gets, requiring you to adjust your breathing technique. Concentrate on inhaling and exhaling properly. Breath deeply, expanding your diaphragm and engaging the abdominal muscles for maximum oxygen intake. Nipping the symptoms of mountain sickness in the bud can save you from a lot of trouble.
An extra layer of clothing or waterproof shell can help protect against wind chill and the cold. Insulating clothes that are easily taken on and off can help save precious energy when you reach the higher altitudes.
Descending the Mountain
The air tends to be cooler on the descent, so you run the risk of hypothermia and exhaustion. Staying hydrated and eating light meals can help; choose food items that give you an impressive energy boost like nuts and nut butter, energy bars, and bananas.
Moving in zigzag motions will help slow your descent, keep your legs from locking up, and reduce the impact on your joints. At the same time, you want to make sure you’re moving fast enough to reach the lower camps before nightfall.
Hire a Guide
The best way to ensure safety when climbing Kilimanjaro is to hire a guide who is familiar with the terrain and the changing weather conditions. A professional guide will equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to make a safe climb. They will have all the essentials like sleeping bags and tents, and they know all the best campsites along your route.
Hiring an experienced guide will also help you out with basic medical problems that may arise during the climb. They usually carry a first aid kit and know how to treat minor illnesses and injuries before the situation worsens.
Climbing Kilimanjaro can be a daunting task and require you to be both physically and mentally prepared. Don’t forget to take the necessary precautions and carry enough supplies for the climb. The right preparation and knowledge of the mountain can help you ascend to the summit and back safely.