Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa at 5895m (19,341 ft). it's the highest freestanding mountain in the world and measures 4600m from base to summit. Its 3,500ft higher than Mt Blanc and a whole 7,000ft higher than Mount Fuji.
It's not a "technical" climb, so no harnesses, ropes, crampons etc. But it is arduous and there are hypothermia and altitude sickness related deaths every year and most attempting it don't make it to the top.
The actual walking/climbing is not a great challenge in itself and any keen mountain walker would have few problems with the typical days walk/climb if it was in the UK. However, the altitude is a real problem and the oxygen levels at the top are less than half that at sea level which makes for an exhausting summit day and nearly everyone will suffer from the effects of Altitude Sickness and hopefully not succumb to the severe and deadly HAPE form which requires immediate descent and treatment. It's normal on Kilimanjaro for trekkers to have constant headaches and sickness - likened to a bad hangover! There are other side affects and apparently farting a lot is one of them! Apparently the funny side of this wears off quickly!
So why climb it? Well it's there and must be on a lot of peoples bucket list. I've been keen on a high altitude trek for sometime as a follow on from my national trail walks and 24/48 hour challenge walks. I am climbing with my friend Kelvin Mason. We're paying for the full cost of the trip personally so all donations will go to Multiple Sclerosis. We've booked with The Africa Walking Company, a highly reputable outfit and one with the best records for equipping and treatment of porters. We've elected to go via the Shira Plateau route. this is longer than the others, is described as the most arduous, but provides extra days between 3,500 and 4,500m to help acclimatise.
It's going to be great and it's going to be tough. We will be walking for full days and can expect a temperature range from +30 to -25. Food poisoning, altitude sickness, hypoxia, injury etc. are all possibilities but we've been preparing well. We've been prescribed Diamox (drug that makes the blood more acidic and somehow thats a good thing for AMS) and numerous remedies and preventatives for all that Africa can throw at us! We've got the best down jackets and five season sleeping bags.
We start trekking from the park gate on Saturday 13th and will summit around 6:00am on the 19th. I understand that there may be a signal on some parts of the mountain so I hope to be able to tweet a picture or two, or just whinge about headaches and sickness etc. Follow me on twitter ChrisJShort.
The final day starts at 11:00pm on the 18th and this is the killer, we have around 5000ft of ascent, it will be -20ish and we are walking up gravel. At that time of night it will be frozen and ideally we'll get the worst over before the sun rises and the gravel starts making it difficult.
Of the many that attempt Kilimanjaro way less than half get to the top and most of those don't go on to Uhuru peak and stop short at Stella Point. Our aim is to get to the proper summit at 19,341ft. Sponsoring me and donating money to Multiple Sclerosis Society will spur me on and will hugely help a great number of people that have been stuck by this disease.
“The Multiple Sclerosis Society is delighted to have Chris’ support once again, for this incredible personal challenge. Chris and his company, Fusionworkshop have already raised thousands of pounds to offer hope and help to everyone affected by MS, as well as raising awareness of the charity and condition amongst his client base. Chris is a real inspiration and we wish him sincere ‘thanks’ and the best of luck. Chris and his group are financing the trip themselves, so every penny donated will increase the investment into world leading MS research, information, education and support for people affected by MS”
Iestyn Evans, MS Society Fundraising Manager, Wales