This post is for everyone who has expressed a personal interest in my trek and in the details of it.
First, background. I’ve been sharing about this adventure on social media in connection with my campaign in support of school libraries. But my brother and I have had plans for this for a very long time – since before I even knew I wanted to be an educator. I wouldn’t call myself an outdoorsman in the way you probably think about it but I did spend most of my childhood outside. Barefooted. Routinely engaging in “play” that makes gardening and working in the woods seem downright pedestrian. Matter-of-factly engaging in massively challenging things was one great lesson I learned from my father. Don’t get me wrong; he’s been training for this like crazy – which is probably a good idea since he turned 70 a couple of months ago. The point is, Maxey Mens Retreats are a thing and have been for a while. This is just the first one that includes summiting a legit mountain.
Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet above sea level. Of the “Seven Summits” (highest mountains on each continent), it ranks number 4. However, it does not require any technical climbing skills and is (essentially) an exceptionally strenuous hike.
While the record for fastest ascent and descent was completed in under seven hours, for mortals like us, a much longer journey is recommended. The primary danger is acute mountain sickness (AMS) – the most dangerous of which is “high altitude pulmonary edema”. This can be life-threatening but most often results in less severe symptoms many of which are similar to those one could experience with the common flu. The cause of AMS is typically a climb that is too rapid. As a result, we have opted for a very leisurely nine-day hike.
We will not be setting any records on this trip, a seven-year-old summited earlier this year (in spite of park rules prohibiting anyone under ten from attempting the summit); my dad will have to go back in 17 years if he wants to set the record for oldest. On the other hand, this will be a personal best for me and the first of the Seven Summits. Perhaps this will get me moving towards that bucket list item to do them all.
One of the amazing things about the Kilimanjaro climb is the fact that the mountain has a huge range of temperature zones. We will essentially experience all four seasons in those nine days.
We will be guided by a group of professional climbers who were highly recommended and have made the accent dozens of times. All but the last two items on my detailed packing list are ready to go. With the help of my young assistant, my backpack and duffle are scheduled for packing on Wednesday. Watch for an update.
P.S. Do you think I have enough socks?