It’s crazy to think that I’m off to climb Kilimanjaro today! Departure day has come so quickly. The past few weeks have been a crazy blur getting ready and preparing for Kilimanjaro. I’ve been doing a lot of research about the climb, talked with friends who have done the climb themselves, and have been acquiring the right apparel and gear that I’ll need, borrowing where I can.
At over 19,000 feet, this climb will be the most physically demanding thing I have ever done. It will take us 6 days to summit and another 2 to return to base camp. There’s been a lot to do to prepare both physically and mentally.
The most important part of preparing for Kilimanjaro is getting physically ready for it. Some days we’ll be hiking around 4-6hrs, while summit day will be closer to 12-15 hrs. 3 weeks to train isn’t ideal. Many people spend months, even a year training for the climb. So I’ve had to kick my fitness routine into overdrive these past few weeks. On top of my usual 3 spin classes I normally do every week, I added in weight training (especially for the legs). I also got outside and biked a lot in between my spin classes. I shot a video about the Top 5 Bicycle Trails in Toronto, and that helped my training as well. I also stopped taking elevators and escalators, using stairs to get my legs ready for climbing and descending.
I’ve talked a lot with people I know who have done Kilimanjaro and they’ve all reassured me that yes, you can definitely complete the climb. But the biggest determining factor about whether or not I’ll be successful will be my reaction to the altitude. And that’s what I’m most nervous about. You can’t exactly train for altitude, unless of course you live in a higher altitude area. Everybody reacts to the altitude differently; it’s independent from your fitness levels. So I’ve opted to take altitude sickness medication. It’s a highly debated topic. Some people say you don’t need it, others swear by it. It’s really a personally choice. I want to give myself every chance possible to make it to the top so I’ll be taking altitude sickness medication.
In my research, having the right clothing is just as important as training for the climb. Without the right apparel the climb will be very difficult and more challenging, running the risk of not being able to summit. Kilimanjaro experiences all four seasons, so layering clothing is the key. The main essentials required are a good pair of hiking boots, proper hiking socks, base layers (long underwear and thermal long-sleeve top), pants, t-shirts, long-sleeve shirts, a sweater, wind breaker, waterproof pants, a down-jacket (ski jacket) for the summit climb, cap with brim, fleece hat, and waterproof gloves.
I’m really excited to be partnering up with Columbia Sportswear for this climb! They’re providing me with some apparel including a rain jacket, a pair of pants, hiking shoes, a t-shirt, and a long-sleeve shirt. Nothing like climbing Kilimanjaro to put your sportswear to the test!
Along with proper clothing, you also need proper gear. Tents will be supplied by our tour company, Charity Challenge, but we have to supply our own sleeping mats and sleeping bags (good for -20 degrees!). We’ll also have porters who will carry our things we don’t need throughout the day (amazing!). Which means we’ll need a good daypack where we can store our extra layers and, for me, all my camera gear. Hiking poles are a must as is a good water storage container. I picked up a water pouch with hose that slides into my daypack so that I don’t have to keep pulling out a water bottle. A headlamp and/or flashlight is needed at night.
In addition to Columbia Sportswear, I’ve also partnered up with Mountain Hardwear who have given me an amazing sleeping bag and a waterproof daypack for the climb.
As a travel videographer, I couldn’t do this climb without documenting it on video! I’ve had to really think about the gear I’m taking since I have to climb with it. I’m taking a ‘bare-bones’ kit with me that includes my Canon DSLR, 2 GoPros, a camera mounted microphone, and a monopod that both my DSLR and GoPros can attach to. The other big challenge is no electricity on the mountain, which means I have to carry enough battery supply to last the climb (4 DSLR batteries and 5 GoPro batteries). I have a few external charging units but they’ll only be good for the GoPro batteries.
Donate to the Cause!
I’m so thankful to have been asked by World Vision to join this climb to bring awareness to child slavery and help raise funds. Although we’re heading out today, there’s still lots of time to donate! Please take a moment to visit the Indiegogo campaign page and donate what you can. No amount is too small and it’s going to a really great cause.
See you on the other side!