The beauty and power of Mount Kilimanjaro has been attracting climbers for hundreds of years. As far back as 1889 when Ludwig Purtscheller first ascended the mountain to when Karl Elgoff literally ran up the mountain in a staggering 6 hours and 42 minutes, Mount Kilimanjaro continues to call to the vertically inclined.
If you are considering climbing Mount Kilimanjaro for the first time, preparation is key for a successful ascent. Climbing a mountain is unlike any other physical activity you perform, and it requires unique preparations and considerations before starting.
So here are 6 preparations you need to make before you start the big climb:
- Give yourself adequate time to climb
Swiss mountain runners aside, the minimum amount of time you should set aside to climb Mount Kilimanjaro is eight days. Longer is fine, but definitely a minimum of at least eight days. This is to prevent altitude sickness.
AMS, or Acute Mountain Sickness, is a very serious condition that is caused by the decreased air pressure and oxygen that is common to high altitudes. Ignoring the risks of AMS could mean that you will suffer from dizziness, headaches, nausea and loss of appetite. Severe AMS could result in brain swelling, so it’s best to play it safe.
- Train with the mountain in mind
Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is not like running a marathon, doing a triathlon, or any other training you have done. Because of the unique strain mountain climbing puts on your body, you will need a special training regimen to succeed. Hiking with ever increasing pack weight, mountain biking, and stair climbing should all become part of your training regimen.
- Prepare for the pressure changes
As you climb higher each day, your body’s muscles will be getting less and less oxygen. In fact, you should prepare for your muscles to have up to 50% less oxygen than they do at sea level. What this means is that you will have to increase the pressure your muscles can handle while at sea level to prep them for the climb. Do this by increasing the weight you carry in your pack while hiking and training.
- Bring the right gear and clothing
Mountains have exceptionally unique climates. The weather at the base of, mid-point, and peak of a mountain are vastly different, and you need to be prepared for all of it before you begin your climb. Packing for your Mount Kilimanjaro climb will mean careful preparation and planning to make sure you are comfortable in every zone. Layering is of the utmost importance, with lots of moisture wicking clothing for base layers, as is having a properly insulated sleeping bag.
- Break in those boots
This point cannot be stressed enough: break your boots in before you climb. In fact, break them in for weeks before your climb. People might think this will cause your footwear to wear out faster, but trust us, the last thing you want is to be trekking up a mountain with boots that are shredding your feet.
- Get your vaccinations
The last thing you need before your climb even starts is to end up sick. Double check what vaccinations you need to travel to Mount Kilimanjaro. Things like Hepatitis A&B, Rabies, Yellow Fever, and Typhoid may all be recommended by your general practitioner. Get these all squared away a few months before you fly so that your body will have had time to build immunity.