Welcome to the second stage of the Kilimanjaro climbing diary, part of the mini series on climbing Kilimanjaro. The guest blogger in this case is Vikki Allan. I’m excited to say that Vikki achieved a Guinness World Record after her successful climb to the summit of Kilimanjaro. This mini series will detail what you need in order to climb it, the preparation she went through and the climb itself. To read more from the guest blogger then you can find her on Twitter here: @vikkimallan. I’ll now pass you over to Vikki…
Where to start… on the 22nd May 2017 I was asked if I would be available to referee a match at some point in June and it would be slightly different… After initially agreeing very sceptically I found out that I would be travelling to Tanzania on 15th June to be an Assistant Referee on a world record breaking match on top of Kilimanjaro!!
The reason for this match was to raise awareness of gender inequality within sports. What better way to do this than climb Kilimanjaro and break a record that had never been done before? I was super excited but also wondering how on earth I was going to climb a mountain with only three weeks training and also not being able to actually train to my full potential due to prior engagements!
So I thought I would write a few blogs on how to prepare for climbing Kilimanjaro, how the trek up Kilimanjaro is and how to spend my very limited two days seeing Tanzania!
Day 5 – The start of the sickness (3hr hike – without additional acclimatisation walk)
WORST SLEEP EVER!!! Tip: Do not underestimate the cold on this first night!!
With Nature Discovery every morning you were woken up by the team’s waiter. Our waiter was Adam and he was a welcome face every morning by the end of the trip. His “Morning Morning…” and then asking what you would like to drink ginger, tea, coffee… it was better service than at home!! Once you had thawed out a bit it was then time for ‘washy washy’, Adam would bring two bowls of lukewarm water (one for each person in the tent) for you to be able to give yourself a bit of a wash then it would be time to get dressed and go for breakfast.
Today we would do a short walk for 3 hours to the next camp; once we arrived it would be time for lunch then another short acclimatisation walk. To stop getting sore heads when climbing it’s better to climb up high then come back down. So after the first 3 hours we were to climb to higher ground then come back down the mountain a couple of hundred metres.
Unfortunately during the first walk I started to get a sore head and feel slightly nauseous.
Once we arrived at camp we had to sign in (you must do this at every camp to show your check ins and obviously final check out when you leave the mountain). During lunch I became extremely ill and couldn’t eat anything, I thought to myself this is it day 2 and I can’t even climb the first bit. I ended up missing the acclimatisation walk and had to go to sleep to feel better.
It was also one of the team coaches birthday so we had a small celebration for her where we sang happy birthday in every language that was in the group!!
We then had dinner, at the end of dinner we did our first oxygen/blood test. We did this every evening to make sure our oxygen levels weren’t dropping too low. My heart rate always seemed to be higher than everyone but my oxygen levels were always slightly higher though and made me feel slightly better. All I wanted to do now was go to sleep; I made sure I put on plenty more layers!
Day 6 – Match 2 (2-3 hr hike)
It was a 0630 wake up and ready for a short walk to the next camp. After the day before I was really worried about how I was going to feel so I just took the walk really slowly and tried to drink as much water as possible.
Tip: Drink at least 3 litres of water a day, if not more!
I started to get a sore head after about an hour but powered through the rest of the walk. We arrived after about 2 hours and I prayed the sore head would go away. Once we got there Adam was there ready with lunch, and after lunch I felt much better. We sat with our guides and learnt all about local Tanzanian culture. After this we watched the porters start to create our pitch halfway up Mt Kilimanjaro, then play a mini game of football. It was great to see the porters enjoy themselves usually we just see them carry our bags which is a thankless task.
We then went to play our first game on Kilimanjaro, I could feel the difference in the air already it was harder to breathe and run. It was like beach football just all the sand and random stones in the ground. After this we went back to the tents and I had a nap. It was then time for dinner at which I became extremely ill again and had to be visited by the doctor. He gave me some tablets for the nausea and also to help me sleep!
Day 7 – One of the worst days of my life (5-6 hrs hike)
I felt great in the morning and on my new diet of just liquid foods to try and not upset my stomach. We knew this day was going to be slightly longer as our itinerary had changed. Previously we were to get to Lava Tower and camp there but we had decided to try and do two days’ worth of walking instead so we can get to lower ground. So we would stop at Lava Tower for lunch then continue on down to Barranco Camp.
To Lava Tower it is all uphill and is one of the fastest ascents in the trip. After the first 30 minutes I was unbearably sick and once we stopped for a break, I lost all of my breakfast. At this point I still had 2.5 hours of walking to get to Lava Tower and felt physically and mentally drained already. I couldn’t think how I was going to do it. My guides were amazing and I couldn’t thank Gabe and Charles enough for their help. The last bit up to lunch was a massive hill and I could have cried but I just had to make it. I was extremely emotional once I got to the top; I was exhausted and could barely move.
I managed to get to the tent but struggled to eat any lunch at all. The doctor came to visit me and had to give me some steroids, we also decided to stop my malaria tablets as they were possibly reacting with my Diamox and making me ill. This made me feel slightly better as maybe it wasn’t altitude sickness.
All I could do was hope!
This was meant to be our day of filming for the documentary so was going to take us longer to get down to the next camp. The doctor asked if it was possible for me to leave early with a guide to get down to the camp. Dayo and I set off for the 2 hour hike down. As we went down he taught me all about the glaciers which were beautiful but have been extremely affected by global warming. He also taught me about the eco system and its plants. He also showed me Baranco Wall which was our challenge tomorrow.
Once we finally arrived at camp I had a nap and felt 100 times better, I even managed my first dinner in days!!
Day 8 – Baranco Wall (3-4 hours hike)
Another 0630 wake up, breakfast and ready to climb the Baranco wall. First day also without my malaria tablets, hoping that I will finally feel better. This was my favourite day of walking by far. This walk is slightly different to all the other days of just walking in a group. On the wall you need to walk in single line as the path is so thin. It’s a much slower day, you need to stop and allow the porters to climb past. At some points you actually need to climb up the wall, how the porters were able to do this was unbelievable! These massive bags on their back, all the food and the supplies, it’s absolutely crazy that they are able to do this; they also don’t have proper hiking shoes/gear.
These are the times you really appreciate the porters and want to ensure you give a tip at the end so they can feed their families and get some more gear to be able to climb.
At the top of the wall it’s time to walk back down to the next camp; this was one of the longer days and is a 5 hr walk in total. There was a great feeling in the group this day though and everyone seemed to have more energy, it was my favourite walk of the trip!!
The final ascent up in this day is one of the steepest and you are shattered by the time you get to the top. Once you get over the peak though you are in the next Karanga Camp. We arrived about 1330 and now there are only 2 more days of climbing. This is also the only place I got mobile phone signal.
Tip: If you are feeling like you need a call back home this is the place. After my days of feeling sick a quick 5 minute call back to my boyfriend and mum was wonderful; one to tell them you are okay but also to give you that little boost to keep going!
What to expect: By this point you are basically living in the same clothes as the nights get colder and your walks are also freezing in the morning taking that layer of clothes off becomes even more difficult. My pyjama leggings slowly become my base layer leggings when walking as well. I also had hand warmers up the mountain with me they were life savers at night in my socks!
My next blog detailing Days 9-12 is available to read now!