Yiyi tips and tricks
YIYI's personal experience on Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
(1) Route: Climbing Kilimanjaro, I took the "Coca-Cola route.” The huts along the way make up for its elongated distance from the summit. One key factor to take in when hiking any trail is altitude acclimatization. The altitude is often times the most limiting factor for any hiker and if one does not acclimatize well, the success rate will drop drastically. Therefore, Machame route seems to be the best for those that want the highest success rate of reaching the summit. Although it takes 7 days and the initial climb is a bit more difficult, the scenery and success rate seems to balance it out.
(2) Elevation: At an altitude of 13000FT, many people will start having headaches. At this point, the hiker wil find
themselves living above clouds. My headache came right after we reached camp. A few pieces of Tylenol for me was enough though there were others who took a variety of medications. However, in some cases, taking a multitude of drugs won’t even help which should prompt you to begin going down the mountainside.
(3) Clothing: It is extremely important to bring enough clothes to withstand the cold. The last camp and upwards saw the the outdoor temperature drop below minus 10 degrees. For example, my guide didn’t bring enough clothing against the cold but I pitched in my jacket to help him out. In such cases where a member of your hiking group does not have enough clothing, you can only hope for someone to give up their jacket or unfortunately backtrack to the camp.
(4) Equipment: Plastic water bottles are sold at the mountain base. However, DO NOT buy more than you believe will be enough. I bought 4 bottles that each hold around one liter and the effort it took to lug those up the mountainside outweighed any possible benefit that additional water could have brought. Even on the long hikes, I only drank 2 bottles leaving the other 2 as deadweight. The headlights are ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL. One consistency you will see is that most of these overnight hikes will require you waking up close to midnight when pushing for the peak. If you do not have a headlight, you will most likely not going to make it.
(5) Diet: Bring some snacks you enjoy. Dark chocolate is highly recommended. The food that the cooks can whip up is limited as everything has to be brought up to each camp by porters with the first camp being an exception. Some energy bars are always recommended though they do pack you lunch when hiking. At the same time, please be sure to bring diarrhea medication. In the six days you spend on the mountain, diaherra seems to be extremely common and as we all know can cause quite some discomfort.
(6) Health: At any point of the hike where you feel even the slightest discomfort, come off of the mountain. The hike is always less important than your health as you can always try again next year. One of the most common diseases that strike on the mountain is a cold. Being a hiker, showering can often cause its contraction. Being exposed to water in such cold temperatures is detrimental which is why showering is discouraged by me. But if you are a hygiene addict, be quick when drying off and getting ready to reduce the possibility of a cold. Finally, when you are at high altitudes, you will be tempted to sleep. RESIST that temptation and try to power through. If you can’t, always back off of the hike and go back to camp. I personally don’t know what happens when you go to sleep at those heights but I can’t imagine anything good to come of it.