Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

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Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby shooker » Sun Dec 25, 2011 10:53 pm

Hey everyone,

Just curious as to which route is the best route for the may-sept months of the year (machame, marangu, rongai etc). I am physically fit but not an olympian by any means, so unless the route is above intense it wouldn't discourage me... probably only challenge me actually.

Any Advise would be much appreciated!
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby jasonatl » Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:39 am

I did the Machame route in September and didn't find it a problem. I'm a software developer with the typical fat belly of a cubicle dweller so I'm not in the best shape. Hiking all day was exhausting but not intolerable. The real challenge was dealing with altitude. Of our group of seven, only one person failed to summit. She is a medical doctor who does triathlons and was in much better condition than me. Sadly the mountain gods did not smile on her. You just never know who is going to get the worst of altitude sickness.

If you can afford to do an nine day trip instead of a eight day trip, I think it is worth the extra expense. We did the seven day trip but I suspect that the extra day of rest before the summit would have made the difference for the one member of our expedition who didn't make it. And for those of us who did make it, I'm sure we would have been happier.

Best wishes for your climb. It'll be quite a task but a rewarding one when all is done!
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby mytwoleftfeet » Tue Dec 27, 2011 3:13 am

Hi there,

I would agree with jasonatl, the longer the route the better for acclimatization. I did the Lemosho route which starts similar to the Machame route and is longer by day or two - 9 or 10 days total (you summit on the 8th or 9th day and you descend in a day and a half after summit).

Being athletic is not a guarantee of reaching the summit. Often its a combination of the will and physical effort. It literally is a slow climb (more like a slow walk). What I enjoyed about the Lemosho route is the "breakfast wall (aka Barranco wall) - - - Machame goes through this way as well. It was so much fun scrambling on all fours through the top for the trekkers and you see
the porters walking upright and not even breaking a sweat!

Whatever route you decide, remember - - - "pole, pole".

All good things and have an amazing trek!

Emma
"The funny thing about the rat race is even if you win, you are still a rat" - - - read this somewhere. :0)
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby jasonatl » Tue Dec 27, 2011 8:39 pm

Not only are some of those porters not breaking a sweat or using hands, they're often balancing something absurd on their head like a table. Come tip time at the end of the trip, it wasn't hard to part with the money as they well deserved it.

If you can book your trip around the full moon, you'll find life much easier when you get up in the middle of the night. It's particularly spectacular camping below the Barranco wall and looking out on the top of the clouds illuminated by the moon. And if you're lucky, you'll finish dinner at least one evening before moonrise and be able to see the most incredible sky filled with stars. With no light to block them out and much of the atmospheric haze below you, it's almost like being in space (just don't walk off the edge of a cliff, you're not really weightless).
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby shooker » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:33 am

awesome thanks for the tips. Altitude sickness is my greatest concern for sure, so I will take every step to prevent that. I can spare the time if need be, something this once in a lifetime won't be rushed.
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby mytwoleftfeet » Fri Dec 30, 2011 12:12 am

Shooker,

This is a personal choice - - - I took Diamox for my high altitude treks (Kili & Everest Base Camp). It's not a cure to AMS, it assists in the acclimatization process by accelerating the kidney response process of metabolic acidosis, to help relieve the symptoms of AMS. With Diamox I had to drink 4 - 5 litres of water a day and yes you go to the washroom a lot. Even without Diamox you still have to drink that much water to ensure that your kidneys increase excretion of bicarbonate to compensate for the loss of carbon dioxide. Note on the two days including summit day, I added glucose (one tetra pack full) in my hydration pack as recommended by our guide - - - yes it was sugar water!

Also, it is important to understand how your body responds to altitude as this is different from person to person. Knowing how you respond will assist you in understanding if you are in extreme distress. The outfitter I went with (not GAP, sorry), had medically trained guides - - - we had a check up every day morning & night - - - checked our lungs, blood oxygenation (thru a bood oxygen metre) and went through a medical checklist, porters carried a gamow bag and 2 tanks of oxygen behind us all the way up. Also anyone with less than 80% oxygenation level at the end of the day had to be administered oxygen for 5 minutes even if you are not in distress. I had one dose at the end of our trek on day 7, I didn't think I needed it as I felt consistent even at 71% - - - and wow! That sure felt great!

You are absolutely right when you say, this is a once in a lifetime experience and should not be rushed. It took me 2 years to prepare mentally and physically (I hiked outdoor trails around 350 kms a year to get my body accustomed to the fatigue and numbness experienced in such an endeavour) and I also travelled to high altitude places to find out how I reacted to high altitude (e.g. Quito, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, etc.). Note I am not an athlete, I just like to hike. Although I met people who just got up and decided to summit Kili without a lot of preparation and did summit. Go figure!

Here's to great adventures and a fabulous 2012!

Emma
"The funny thing about the rat race is even if you win, you are still a rat" - - - read this somewhere. :0)
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Re: Kilimanjaro: Which Route To Take.

Postby thecakeisalie » Wed Jan 04, 2012 2:06 pm

mytwoleftfeet wrote:Shooker,

The outfitter I went with (not GAP, sorry), had medically trained guides - - - we had a check up every day morning & night - - - checked our lungs, blood oxygenation (thru a bood oxygen metre) and went through a medical checklist, porters carried a gamow bag and 2 tanks of oxygen behind us all the way up. Also anyone with less than 80% oxygenation level at the end of the day had to be administered oxygen for 5 minutes even if you are not in distress. I had one dose at the end of our trek on day 7, I didn't think I needed it as I felt consistent even at 71% - - - and wow! That sure felt great!



A word of caution about this, there are multiple schools of thought on how to best handle symptoms of altitude sickness, but the only real cure is DESCENT, DESCENT, DESCENT. Taking oxygen should be considered a life-saving alternative when descent is not an option, but on Kili descent is always an option, and therefore O2 isn't ever necessary. If you are using it during the ascent then you are simply putting a bandage on a much bigger problem. What happens when the O2 wears off? When will that happen? 19,000ft is a bad place to find out...
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