Come visit me over at En Route Traveler today…

Have you checked out En Route Traveler yet? It is an online resource that inspires and educates the independent traveler on how to prepare for a journey, discover affordable planning and travel options and best of all, guides the traveler on how to experience a place’s culture and environment in an authentic and responsible way. It is a fabulous resource with very informational articles and beautiful photos!

So when they asked me to guest blog about my experience climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I was thrilled and jumped at the opportunity! So, I’m excited to be guest blogging with not one but two(!) posts over at En Route Traveler today sharing 24 Insider Tips for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and my Complete Packing List for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

Be sure to check it out! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Advertisements

The Bittersweet One Year Anniversary {Parallel Universes}

Today would have been my one year wedding anniversary.

I’m struggling with this. It is a very surreal and strange thing to process. How has it already been a year? It is crazy to think how fast time has flown by and all that has happened in the past year. Had I gotten married, NOT ONE event of this past year would have happened. Not.a.single.one. Think about that for a minute. Crazy, eh? It is stop-in-your-tracks and mind-numbing to think what could have been. It is even more wild to think that all the memories I have now from this past year would not exist. That’s such a strange to think about. Where would I be today?

Today is also the day I celebrate my one year anniversary of starting my assent up Mount Kilimanjaro.  I am so proud of myself for accomplishing that feat; a feat that I am still in disbelief that I DID; a feat that I have to look at photos to believe sometimes. And that would not have happened had I been celebrating the wedding anniversary.

So instead of cutting into and eating the top-tier of my wedding cake and exchanging paper gifts, I am alone looking through photos from when I climbed Kilimanjaro. It was ironic, it was coincidental, no it was Kismet, that it fell on the same day. I couldn’t have planned that better if I tried.

It is this parallel universe of celebrating two anniversaries; like looking down a kaleidoscope and seeing an alternate life. It’s like Sliding Doors; seeing what your life might have been if one decision was different. I’m proud of all that I’ve done, accomplished and am experiencing; of how I’ve grown and what I’ve learned about myself. But I miss him and wonder what our life would be like.

I know where I live now, who I’ve met, and the things I’ve done – none of it would have happened. My outlook on life would be different. I know I am much more positive and grateful for the little things; I would not be who I am today, that’s for sure. So much would be different. I’d be a Mrs.

There are those things we look forward to all year; we set goals, we hit milestones, we meet new people, we plan vacations, we advance in or change jobs. We have experiences that we expected and others that we never could have predicted. We grow another year older, wiser.  Yet the one thing that is consistent in all of it, is that time doesn’t stop. With that, every decision we make leads us on down a new path, and we must learn from our experiences. I guess having both anniversaries on the same day, makes today easier to swallow; it puts life and the choices we make into perspective.

Today is, and always will be a bittersweet day. Two anniversaries in one; today I celebrate both what I accomplished and what could have been.

Last year today, in my travel journal, I wrote, “To new challenges, to new beginnings and going over the hill to leave the past behind.” And that is just what I am celebrating today.

Happy Bittersweet One Year Anniversary, to me.

One Year Ago Today…

One year ago today…

I arrived in Tanzania, Africa for what was the greatest adventure of my life – a month of volunteering & teaching in the community, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, going on Safaris, and visiting Zanzibar. All of it completely changed my life. I’m in disbelief that it has been a year already. I miss Moshi and my experience EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I don’t think a day goes by that I haven’t thought about it in some capacity.

I’m so grateful for that experience.

I can’t believe all that has happened, come and gone in the past year and all that I’ve learned and discovered both about myself and others along the way. Nzuri sana.  It’s funny, I always catch myself first, but my instinct is still to say “Asante Sana” instead of “Thank you.”

In that month, I learned so much about myself, what it means to be a community, how privileged americans are and how much we take for granted. I learned so much about gratitude and appreciating what we have; that being wealthy has everything to do with how grateful and happy you are and nothing to do with how much money you have.  I learned to follow my heart; to express love and gratitude and to live passionately. I learned there is so much more to life than just the items we own or the cars we drive or the life we live. I realized how important it is to experience other cultures and to leave your first world expectations at home when you travel to a third world country.

Time and how we perceive it is an odd thing. I reflect and think about all that has happened in the past year since I first arrived in my host city and I am silenced.

When put in perspective that I’ve already lived in DC for 7.5 months, one year ago feels simultaneously both light years away and just few months ago.  It’s a teeter-totter of emotions and memories. It seems like it never happened; it seems like 6 months; it seems like decades ago and it seems like a year.

So much has happened since I landed in Tanzania. I look back on the impact the children had on me, and vice versa; the fact that I no longer have to dream about someday fulfilling a lifelong dream of volunteering and going on African Safari’s is exhilarating and saddening.  It’s crazy that I actually held residence in Africa. Not at a hotel, but a place I called home for a month. It’s hard to fathom that I climbed the largest freestanding mountain in the world and lived to tell the tale. I think about that accomplishment and it still blows my mind that I DID THAT.  At this point it feels like it is a figment of my imagination, just a dream I conjured up in my head, and I have to look at photos for proof I didn’t make it up. I am still in awe and incredibly proud of myself that I actually did it let alone successfully made it to the summit no less. I accomplished 7 things on my life list.

In the past year since returning, I flew 22 hours alone, my sister got married, I was unemployed for a while, I moved across country on a gut feeling and then I got a new job soon thereafter; one that I love because I know I get to impact lives everyday. I made a new home in that new city and made new friends. I’ve accomplished  2 more things on my life list.  I ran my first 5K. I played league sports and started my own Ladies Only fantasy NFL leagues with friends. I have spent an ENTIRE year eating only meat that was GMO/anti-biotic free.

Man, a lot has happened – and that’s just the start of it all.

From the moment I boarded the plane wondering what this adventure was going to be like – until now – the adventures haven’t stopped. When I woke up a year ago today, I never would have predicted just where my life would be today – all because of that one decision to go to Africa.

I miss Moshi and my students every day. This adventure and experience has become a part of who I am and I am proud of the person I have become. I am strong and brave; I am bold and adventurous. I have learned to be true to myself, to follow my gut and to surround myself with people who make me a better person. I am more positive and grateful. I know that I can accomplish big things; I know I can push myself; I can climb mountains and continually challenge myself. I’ve learned to honor who I am and to do what makes me happy.  I’ve grown more into the person I want to be. Asante Sana.

You can’t predict what the future holds but you do have to have faith that you are going in the right direction. Time is a funny thing. It never stops. And as we get older, it only goes faster. It blurs together and weeks become months and months become years. I still can’t believe an entire year has gone by.

What started as the greatest adventure of my life has evolved into my life being a giant adventure now. I am grateful for my experience and thankful I had the courage to follow my dreams and make it happen. I look forward experiencing (what is now) the upcoming year and reflecting on all that I will have done. Maybe a year from now I’ll be in a different city? Engaged? Single? Maybe I’ll be an Aunt? At a new job? Whatever will be this time next year, I look forward to all the adventures that lie ahead.

Hakuna Matata.

faces

summit

That time I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and lived to tell the tale…

I was on top of the world!! (Or at least on The Roof of Africa!)

Despite some (major) breathing struggles due to the high altitude and extremely thin air, I’m really happy to report that I made it all the way to Uhuru Peak! I climbed 19,341 feet on the World’s Highest Freestanding Mountain to The Roof of Africa. From being cold and dirty for seven days and only using wet wipes to bathe, to camping out in sleeping bags in the great outdoors and going to the bathroom behind rocks along the trail, to facing my fears of climbing a real rock wall (with no harness) and hiking up to 7 hours in a day, to even climbing 13 hours in extreme cold and dangerously low temps on summit night, I can honestly say that even though in the moment it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done physically, I enjoyed every day and the adventure of it all.

My climbing group consisted of 3 other girls and I along with our 3 guides and 13 porters. We saw dads and sons, couples and groups of guys but we were the only group of all girls. Yup, we’re that badass.

We chose to do a 7 day hike on Machame, the route known as “The Whiskey Route” because it is more challenging and scenic than Marangu, the “Coca Cola Route.” The more days you spend climbing, the better your chances are of acclimatizing and successfully making it to the summit. I don’t know if I would have made it if we did a shorter trek. Climbing, much like in life, is a mental game. If you believe it is possible and tell yourself you can do it compared to if you are weak and give up, the choice is yours. You have to honey badger through that shit. The mental aspect of the climb was actually the easiest part for me. Apparently, when I want  something, I am a lot stronger mentally than I ever fully realized.

I used to wonder what it was like to touch a cloud. They look so fun and fluffy, right? Let me tell you right now – they aren’t. They are cold and damp and quite dreary! But even if you are standing in the clouds or above the clouds, when you’re on the mountain looking up at the snow-covered peak, you completely forget that you’re in Africa.

Every morning at 6am the porters woke us up with hot tea and a hot breakfast. We’d get dressed (we pretty much wore the same clothes everyday so this didn’t take too long), pack up our stuff and load our daypack with the stuff that we needed for the day. Having the right gear made the trek a thousand times easier. We had 3 hot meals a day and ate dinner around 6pm by candlelight. It got really cold at night and there wasn’t much to do in the dark except rely on our headlamps and candles to play cards, write in our journals or read so we’d stall best we could and then retire early for the night to rest up for the long day of hiking ahead.

Quick Kilimanjaro Facts:

  • The guides repeatedly tell you “pole pole” (pronounced polé) which means “slowly slowly”. The slower you go, the more likely you are to make it to the summit.
  • It’s the largest freestanding mountain in the world standing at 19,341 ft/ 5895 m.
  • Kilimanjaro supports 5 major eco-zones: rainforest, heath, moorland, alpine desert and arctic tundra. Where else on Earth can you journey through 5 climates from the Equator/Amazon Rainforest to the North Pole in 45 miles? Truly incredible.
  • The biggest challenge and danger is the high altitude. Climbers die from improper acclimatization and altitude sickness rather than falls.
  • Approximately 25,000 people attempt to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro annually. Only about 2/3 are successful. (and I am one of them! Woo!)
  • The structure is composed of 3 volcanoes: Kibo, Mawenzi, and Shira. Kibo, where all the hikers are, is the highest and only peak that is dormant and could erupt again. The most recent activity was only 200 years ago! (Yea, so I climbed on a colossal volcano!)

So here is a day by day account of the life-changing climb:

October 14: DAY 1
Machame Gate to Machame Hut Camp
Elevation: 5,997 ft to 9,908 ft

Distance: 10.8 km
 (6.7 miles)
Time: 12N to 5:22PM
. 5 hours 22 minutes
Zone: Rainforest

It rained in the rainforest. Go figure. I saw some monkeys swinging in the trees, so that was entertaining. The air was already thinning and already becoming more difficult to breathe. I tried to focus on the climb rather than what could have been.  That night I stood mesmerized by the breathtaking beauty and astounding mass quantity of stars. Stars in Utah have nothing on this.

day 1 - kilimanjaro
 
October 15 DAY 2
Machame Hut to Shira Camp
Elevation: 12,621 ft

Distance: 5.2 km
 (3.2 miles)

Time: 8:30AM to 1PM
 - 4 hours 57 minutes
Vitals: 97 Oxygen level
Zone: Alpine Forest

Today was rough and very steep. We were already above the clouds and climbed over rocks, mud and boulders. At one point, we were on the edge of a cliff with only a 3-inch thick ledge!! (not exaggerating at all)

day 2- kilimanjaro
Thank goodness for walking sticks. No stepping stones are stairs, only boulders.
October 16 – DAY 3
Shira Camp to Barranco Hut (via Lava Tower)

Elevation: Lava Tower 15,092 ft / Barranco Hut 130,70ft

Distance: 
Shira to Lava 7.0 (4.3 miles)
Lava to Barranco 3.7 km (2.3 miles)

Time: 8:30AM to 4PM
 - 6 hours 27 minutes
Vitals: 94 Oxygen level
Zone: Moorland

The first 3 ½ hours were straight uphill and extremely cold.The cold temps only make breathing in the thin air that much more difficult. To help acclimate (climb high, sleep low) we descended after reaching Lava Tower which is the highest point along the route until the summit.

Grace and I at Lava Tower; crazy Tim Burton-esque trees; me standing in front of Kibo
October 17 – DAY 4
Barranco Hut to Karanga Hut

Elevation: 13,255 ft

Barranco Wall (843 ft)
Distance: 5.8 km (3.6 miles)
Time: 8:50AM to 1PM
 4 hours
Vitals: 90 Oxygen level
Zone: Alpine Desert

The air had gotten so thin that it took me 5 minutes to catch my breath. Even going from the tent to the toilet tent and back was an effort. We literally climbed a rock wall known as the High Breach Barranco Wall. We put away our walking poles and used our hands to pull ourselves up and over massive boulders. On our walk, I had an interesting chat with Vincent, my guide, about how Tanzanian’s main news source is the radio because TV’s cost too much, papers are hard to find and people have to go to Internet cafes to get Internet access. When he told me Obama did well in the 2nd debate and bombed the 1st I realized just how disconnected from the world I had become and how at peace I was in the complete and utter silence, the serenity and the calmness of the mountain.

Yoga above the clouds, Niki and I climbing up the Barranco Wall and the four of us eating
October 18- DAY 5
Karanga Hut to Barafu Hut
Elevation: 15,092 ft

Distance: 3.4 km
 (2.1 miles)

Time: 8:45AM to 12PM
 2 hours 44 minutes
Zone: Desert

Upon arrival at the camp, we were told to rest up for our big night. The guides woke us up for dinner and then again at 1130p to begin our summit attempt. This was where it hit me. Time had come to go big or go home; but really just to go big because going home wasn’t going to be an option for me.

day 5 - kilimanjaro

October 18th/ Morning of October 19th – NIGHT of DAY 5/ DAY 6 SUMMIT ATTEMPT!
Distances on Summit Day
Barafu Hut to Stella Point: 3.3 Km (2.05 miles) ~ 6 hours 
(Stop & think about that. Climbing 2 miles straight up a mountain.
That puppy is huge!)
Stella Point to Summit Uhuru Peak: 1.2 km (.75 miles)
Summit to Barafu: 4.5km (2.8 miles)
Elevation: Stella Point 18,871 ft / Uhuru Peak 19,341 ft
Vitals: None taken. Vincent didn’t want to psych us out if we made it
this far?
Time: 12:20AM-1:30PM Summit. 13 hours!
Zone: Arctic Tundra

As soon as we left base, I felt like we were on a death march with what should have had dramatic Star Wars music playing in the background. Saving my iPod battery up until this point just to listen to music as I attempted to summit made all the difference in the world. It helped pass the time so much easier. I was wearing almost every piece of clothing I brought and while I was comfortable, others were vomiting and fighting frostbite. After all, climbing (pre-sunrise) in the cold, dark night at -10C (14 F) for  about 6+ hours was damn near frigid. When it is pitch black out, all you see is the feet of the person in front of you lit up in the light of your headlamp. You can’t see that you are on the edge of a massive cliff and you’re less likely to get psyched out by how far you have left to climb.

Did you know that the brain does not function very intelligently and often hallucinates at this altitude? One climber-friend said she must have blacked out while continuing to walk because she doesn’t remember parts of the climb near Stella Point. Another said he saw hippos. That’s bad, there are no hippos anywhere on the mountain. Thankfully, I didn’t have any symptoms of AMS. When you reach Stella Point you think you’re done but you’re not.  It’s a big tease. You’ve already climbed about 7 hours and you think you’ve exhausted all your reserved energy and that you can’t go any further but oh wait. You can! There is still (only) 470 ft to go! Even though I was struggling to breathe, I told myself, “Who needs to breathe!? I’ve come 5 days and have just an hour and half left! I can do this!” Admittedly, I cried a few tears when I got to the sign. Standing just feet away from a real ice glacier in Africa was absolutely magical. It  is so sad to think that they are melting and will likely be gone in 10-20 years.

summit

October 19 Day 6:
Barafu Hut to Mweka Camp
Distance: 6.3km  (3.9 miles)
Time: 3 hours
Elevation: Mweka Camp 10,138 ft

Vitals: Oxygen 70. Uh oh.
Zone: Alpine Desert

TOTAL Climbed Summit Day - Total 15.3km  (9.5 miles)

I kept thinking, “What comes up must go down” because for me the scariest part of it all was going down the loose scree. Couldn’t they have a ski chair lift to take me down? 10 hours into climbing and still 3 hours left, I was tired!! I thought once I descended and reached camp, my breathing would return to normal. However, I was wheezing coughing so violently that I almost vomited so the porters put me on a stretcher and carried me 3/4 of the way to Mweka camp to get me to lower altitude as fast as possible. They then gave me oxygen to help stabilize me. As it turns out, I was actually lucky to have been given a ride because really, going down is a lot harder on your knees and body and after 13 straight hours, I don’t think I had the energy to keep going.

complete
Happy and Dirty and in need of a shower, but we did it!
October 20 Day 7:
Mweka Camp to Mweka Gate to the hotel! AKA finally a shower 
with soap & water, a real toilet and a real bed!
Elevation: 5,423 ft

Distance: 8.5 km
 (5.3 miles)
Time: 8:30 to 10:30AM hotel by 12:30PM – 2 hours 47 minutes
Zone: Rainforest

I was lucky, even though I couldn’t breathe, I didn’t suffer from any AMS symptoms. I never had a headache, never saw hippos nor did I vomit. I think taking Advil and Diamox every day helped tremendously. Before we knew it, we were at the finish line receiving our certificates of summit completion! I immediately showered, laid on the bed and called home to wake up my parents to tell them that I was indeed alive and that I had succeeded! That night we all went to celebrate our successful climbs (and newfound access to showers) at Glacier – a bar hangout in Moshi with tables in a treehouse.

TOTAL DISTANCE WALKED: over 45 miles in 7 days.

Cheers'ing to our successful climb and to finally having a shower again
All 7 of us successfully made it to the summit. 100% success rate! Celebrating our successful climb and to finally having a shower again
October 21
Zone: Hotel & Airport

Time for my 22 hour flight home. Funny story – Before Grace contacted me to join her, I had considered joining a group of 6 Australians so I didn’t have to climb alone. When I got in the van to go to the airport, I was chatting with my van-mates who happened to be Australian. I  instantly knew who they were and when I asked if they climbed Rongai, they gave me a look like “WTF, how’d you know?” Turns out it is a very small world after all and they were the ones I almost climbed with! Good thing I went with Grace because it was a group of men all in their 50’s! That sure would have been an awkward 7 days.

A good life lesson learned – just keep your focus on what is directly ahead of you. Don’t look up the mountain and get caught up in how far you have still to go, just take one step at a time. 

It was such an incredible feeling of immense satisfaction and such a sense of accomplishment to know that I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! I made to the top! I didn’t give up and yes, I did it! It was a very proud moment and in that moment, I felt untouchable, as if I could do anything. I felt on top of the world. While it truly was a once-in-a-life-time experience, it made me realize I am capable of so much more than I ever thought possible and am so much stronger (mentally) than I ever gave myself credit for. I am fierce, brave and independent. I enjoy adventures and camping and nature, too. I don’t need to wait for a man to come along for my life to begin. I  can accomplish dreams on my own. Looking back at pictures and memories, I am still impressed with myself that I was able to accomplish such a challenging feat. I am now apart of an elite club of people who can say that they made it to The Roof of Africa! I’m excited to see what my next adventure will be.

{Interested in climbing? Have questions about my experience or want to know more details on how climbing works, ask away in the comment section!}

** If you want to see more pictures check out my album.**

How to Pack for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro: Tips, Gear and Advice

When I started to prepare for my adventure to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, I was overwhelmed with thoughts and fears of what would happen if I didn’t have the right gear. It’s not like you can go to a store if you forgot something once you’re on the mountain or even in Tanzania for that matter. I spent a lot of time preparing myself and making sure I had ALL of the right gear, making sure I had every possible situation covered. So if you are asking yourself, “How do you even pack for a trip like this?” I’m here to help. I wish I had this list (with photos, too!) when I was packing so I hope this answers your questions and helps make packing easier.

mountains

The Porters are limited to carrying a maximum of 15 kg (35 lbs) of luggage for you. They are life savers and I really don’t know how they do it. Be sure to thank them and show your gratitude.

INSIDER TIPS AND ADVICE

  • Pack light but for all seasons/conditions. You go through 5 temperate climates in just a few days. Be prepared for that.
  • LAYERS LAYERS LAYERS – Lots of layers and things you can re-wear.
  • NO COTTON – it is said that it doesn’t dry at high altitude and you don’t want to chafe. Stick with breathable and moisture wicking fabrics.
  • Pack one complete hiking outfit on the plane, including a long sleeve shirt, hiking pants, underwear, socks, and hiking boots. You can rent nearly everything but you don’t want to risk blisters ruining your whole climb.
  • Be selective in what you take with you. The less you have to carry the easier your hike it and the porters are limited to what they can carry for you.
  • Be prepared to not shower for a week, to take wet wipe baths and to squat behind rocks. Don’t worry. All the cool kids are doing it.
  • It gets cold on the first night.
  • Be prepared to wear the same thing day in and out. The air is thin and cold so you don’t (or probably won’t) sweat or stink like you normally would after a week without a shower.
  • Get a camera that is small and fits in your hip pockets of the backpack. You want easy access and don’t want to carry it or have to take off the daypack to take pictures.
  • The easiest way to keep going is to not look too far ahead. Do take in scenery but focus on one step at a time. It can be mentally exhausting to see the camp site ahead but know it is still 4 hours away. Be like the elephants and watch the feet of the person in front of you. Before you know it, you’ll reach your destination.
  • Pay for the package that has hot meals included instead of box lunches. Trust me.
  • Get a toilet tent. It is worth every penny – especially if you are a woman. Again, trust me.
  • Save your iPod battery for summit night. Music makes it SO much easier.
  • Do you wear contacts? I was worried about this but had no problem with the clean water they provided.
  • Ladies- I found putting my hair in pig-tail braids helped keep it cleaner and easier to maintain for 7 days sans shower.
  • Before you leave home make sure you can layer and wear all your clothes on top of each other: Don’t buy all small sizes and then get to the mountain and realize you can’t layer them. Big Uh Oh.
  • Don’t carry any water on the outside during summit night. It will freeze. Protect it somehow. (Insulation or clothing.)

 

One of the reasons that I selected Climbing Kilimanjaro as my guide company is because I was able to rent gear through them. Instead of forking over tons of money for new gear, most of which I would likely not use again or often enough to justify the cost, I opted to rent some stuff. Most guide groups offer you the option of renting gear for a small price. Added benefit – I didn’t have to pack and schlep as much (or the heavy bulky things) in my suitcases. I was worried about using someone else’s sleeping bag. I got over that real fast when it was warm.

RENTED

  • Insulated Down Parka
  • Walking Poles (These were my BFF. Seriously, I don’t know how people climbed without them.)
  • Sleeping Bag: Warm, four-season sleeping bag. -15° C/ 0° F
  • Warm thick winter Gloves
  • Gaiters (apparently NOT one-size-fits all. Try these on first. Mine were too small…)
  • Balaclava
  • Toilet Tent (DO THIS. IT IS WORTH YOUR MONEY!)
  • Sleeping pad
  • Duffel bag

SLEEPING AND CARRYING EQUIPMENT

  • Medium sized daypack (25-30 Liters)  *To carry only the things you need during the day like clothes, water, raincoat, warm clothing, camera and food.
  • Daypack rain shield cover-  to protect from soaking your belongings. My daypack came with one.
  • Sleeping bag liner – brought but never used.
  • Dry Sacks or plastic bags to protect equipment from rain. I had a 4 L, 8L, 16L and 32 L Sea to Summit bags to stay organized.

DRINKING

  • Camelbak 32 oz water bottle
  • Platypus Water Bag – Perfect and ideal so you don’t have to stop to drink.
  • Water filtering iodine chemical tablets.

BASE LAYERS

  • NO COTTON. Wear fabric this is breathable, synthetic and moisture wicking.
  • Moisture wicking long sleeve tee-shirts (2)
  • Moisture wicking tee-shirts (2)
  • Moisture wicking sports bra tank (1)
  • Moisture wicking sports bra (1)
  • Long underwear pants (1)
  • Underwear

MIDDLE LAYERS

OUTER LAYERS

  • Waterproof hard shell jacket with hood – breathable and water-resistant.
  • Fleece pants (1) – I only wore these summit night over long underwear and under my waterproof pants
  • Hiking pants (with zippers to turn into shorts) (1)
  • Waterproof pants (1)
  • Gloves or mittens – warm, waterproof recommended
  • Medium gloves. Something warmer than glove liners but not as heavy as summit gloves for daily hiking.
  • Glove liners – thin and synthetic, to be worn under gloves for added warm and protection from frostbite
  • Knit hat
  • Balaclava
  • Sun hat with brim or Bandana ( I used bandana)

FOOTWEAR

  • Ankle high supportive hiking boots (broken in)
  • Shoes for lounging around camp. You’ll want to give your feet a break. I used Keens because they were easy to slip on over socks. (Also – bring a bag to keep your dirty camp shoes in)
  • Hiking socks 3 pairs (Smartwool suggested)
  • Sock liners- 2 pairs Thin, synthetic and one size smaller. They stretch and then cause blisters.

MISC. & PERSONAL 

  • Toiletries -(soap, tooth brush, toilet articles, tooth paste etc.)
  • Sun screen – didn’t use. Oops.
  • Bug spray- deet 25-50%
  • Toilet paper (you can buy travel rolls from Target or take the cardboard out of a roll and put in plastic zip lock bag)
  • Headlamp and batteries
  • Sunglasses – UV protection
  • Camera
  • Extra memory card
  • Extra batteries for camera & headlamp (leave extra batteries in a pair of socks to keep warm.)Batteries don’t do well in the cold and high altitude. Also, check the camera specs before you go to be prepared. You don’t want to have a surprise when you get to the top as you probably won’t want to climb to the summit again just to get that snapshot.
  • High energy snacks – trail mix, cliff bars, chocolate bars or m&m’s
  • Vagina wipes
  • Wet wipes for hygiene and cleaning –  more than you think you need. then add more. You don’t need expensive camping brand. $1.99 Wet Ones from Target will work.
  • Cotton Q-tips
  • Anti-itch cream for bug bites. FYI the mosquitoes are enormous!
  • iPod- but save your battery for summit night.
  • Small unbreakable travel mirror
  • Face Wash – I found it easiest to use Neutragena Face Wipes
  • Quick Dry Towel (optional)
  • Plastic bag for trash – You cannot leave anything on the mountain but the porters can collect the trash for you
  • Sun screen and lip protection, SPF 30+
  • Ziploc bags, to protect camera, binoculars, etc. from dust
  • Contact solution & case
  • Journal and pen *It goes by in a blur and you’ll be grateful you wrote it down
  • Cards, book, etc. something to entertain yourself around the campsite
  • Money to tip porters & guides
  • Dry shampoo
  • Nalgene bottle to pee in – I cut myself off at 6pm so I didn’t have to go because at night the last thing you want to do is leave the warmness of your tent for the frigid air to pee.
  • Go Girl – pee funnel to pee into bottle.
  • No need to bring makeup.
  • Deodorant
  • Baby powder to help keep feet dry (optional)
  • Sterile needles (Optional – in case you need an injection and don’t trust the hygiene conditions)
  • Panty liners to keep underwear cleaner longer (suggested)
  • Did you get all your shots needed to enter the country? Visit CDC website
  • I brought Just In Case Meds: Ciprofloxacin (travelers diarrhea & bladder infection) and Azithromycin (aka Z-pack)

PERSONAL FIRST AID KIT

  • Advil – Heard this helps with AMS too. Took 2 every morning and never ached or got sick.
  • First-aid kit that includes bandages, tape, blister kit, antibacterial cream, antibiotics for travelers’ diarrhea, antimalarials, antihistamines, cold and flu medications, throat lozenges, and altitude medications.
  • Blister kit – with tape, Neosporin and Band-Aids (both regular and blister Band-Aids) I used this even as preventative measures.
  • Pepto Bismol
  • Immodium for anti-diarrhea
  • Malaria tablets – I took generic Malarone
  • Diamox (Acetazolamide)-Used to prevent/combat altitude sickness. I took generic brand and had no symptoms of AMS. There were 4 of us that climbed together, 3 took meds 1 didn’t. The one girl was fine until summit night. She was the only one who got sick. Down fall to it – it is a diarrhetic so it makes you pee more. I cut myself off from drinking water at 6pm so I didn’t have to leave my tent in the bitter cold to pee and it worked like a charm.

PAPERWORK  (I Used 4L water proof Sea to Summit bag to protect passport, money and valueables)

  • Airline ticket
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Prescriptions
  • Yellow fever certificate (if required)
  • Proof of travel insurance
  • Medical insurance
  • Medical Evacuation insurance

Lastly, the most important thing to bring with you is a positive mental attitude. As cheesy as that sounds, this really can be what makes it or breaks it for you to make it to the summit sign. After 5 days, I came to the top with an hour and a half left and wanted to give up but it was that belief that, “Yes I Can Do It!” that made it possible. You Can Do It!  Good luck and have fun on your journey!

If you have any questions on what to pack or what it is like, please feel free to shoot me an email. I’m excited for you to embark on this amazing life changing journey.

Did you climb? What did you bring with you that you found helpful or necessary that I didn’t list here? Please leave a note in the comment section to pass on your wisdom to other potential climbers. 

Photos are either mine or Grace Gan