How Difficult is the Climb?
Kilimanjaro is attractive not only because it is the highest peak in Africa, but also because it is not a technical climb. It is a difficult hike up a mountain, but it does not require that we tie a rope around our climbing party and scale sheer rock faces. In reading about the route, there are a couple of challenging parts of the trail, but nothing more than a difficult hike. For the most part, getting to the top requires stamina and determination.
Another important note about the climb is to understand that we will have guides and porters. You cannot climb the mountain without them, or independently. Tanzania changed the laws in 1991 and now requires that every climber is with an agency. The Agency arranges for guides and porters. It is a source of employment for the locals and keeps everyone following the same rules and regulations on the mountain. That being said, I don’t even have to carry all my gear. I only need to carry my water, and anything else I decide I need for the day. The porters carry all the tents, sleeping gear, food, and the balance of our gear.
Now you are realizing that this isn’t so bad at all; Kat and Kerry are going luxury camping! Well, we do have to walk our selves up a mountain at about 10 hours of walking a day. We will have to fight altitude, and we do have to hike for 9 days in a row…
We started training about 4 months prior to our departure date. The weekly training regimen: 3 days of running, 2 days of stairs, at least 1 hot yoga class, 2 or more days of weights or strength training and 1 hike.
Running: Kerry and I both have been running regularly. So to spike that Kerry ran hills and I ran intervals
Stairs: we work in a 6 story building and we started the stairs about 2 months prior to the climb. Not a stair master or climber at the gym; real stairs. We not only trudge up, we have to walk down as well. I thought I breezed through my first 40 minute session of going up and down. But the next day my calves were bricks. I could barely walk. I don’t remember ever being in that much pain from running or weight training. If you want to build up your legs – do real stairs. I kept with it, my calves got better and after 3 sessions I increased my time, and added a 25 pound pack.
Hot Yoga: Don’t really know if this is helping, but I am stretching out tight muscles. Mostly we are using this on our active recovery days, and for the breathing techniques.
Weight and Strength Training: Lunges, Squats, Abs, etc., we both have been adding 10 minutes of strength training in to all our workouts, and then do ab work almost every day.
Hiking: definitely the most enjoyable part of the schedule. We have been pretty successful in finding trails and just getting out to hike. Unfortunately, the geography of Texas is a bit flat. We are “near” hill country, so we do try to find hills. I have attached a photo of our nearest hill. We have gone out to Perdenales Falls, Garner State Park (best hills we found), Government Canyon, Enchanted Rock, and Eisenhower Park. Texas Hill country is rocky. The ground here is limestone and quartz so most trails are cut out of stone. We are used to boulders, lose rocks and loads of gravel. Between the rocks and the cactus, it’s no wonder I have only encountered one barefoot runner in Texas in the last 6 years.
I think that is it for training. I put in at least an hour everyday, sometimes much longer. Two weeks away from departure and I’m feeling strong and am about to go out on a 8 mile walk. I had a little scare 2 days ago – while doing some one legged dead lifts my left hip popped. Ouch. I tried to stretch it out, moved it around, iced it, took anti inflammatory meds and rested it for the balance of Friday and Saturday. Today I’m feeling much better – its gonna be fine. But that is my worst fear – injury just prior to departure! OMG – Plan for 6 months, train for 3 months, cancel at the last minute due to a injury you sustained during training. I have nightmares about injuries. Also about missing a flight, weather delays, missing baggage, documentation problems…
Next up – maybe even later today: Picking an Agency, Picking Gear, and packing