Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb - Final Thoughts
As I said in the summary on the main page, the trip was amazing. All of the guides/porters made the climb such an enjoyable experience. Every last one of them was super friendly and genuinely seemed to enjoy making the climb. I think we were very fortunate with the group of climbers that we had. I was hoping by taking this route and going with a company like Mountain Madness that the group would be more athletically/outdoors inclined and I think we got that. Everyone stayed really positive and I think for the most part got along well, which is impressive for a group of 13 strangers. Judy and I joked that we were both vying to be the most annoying person on the trip and I'm not sure who was the ultimate winner. I'll let the others on the trip decide for themselves, although I personally don't think Judy or I were the winner. ☺
Things that Surprised Me About the Trip
The energy and enthusiasm of the guides and porters. Not just in our group but in every group we saw on our route
The sheer number of porters that we used on the trip
The amount and quality of food that they fed us breakfast, lunch and dinner. The soups were outstanding!
How the altitude very suddenly hit me like a brick wall at 15,800 ft. I was feeling very strong at 14,500 ft but the extra little bit of altitude all of a sudden made a big difference
How you can't force yourself to eat when your body doesn't want to. Saliva is pretty important!
How little energy I had making the climb from 15,800 ft to 18,500 ft
How well I recovered and ultimately faired at 18,500 ft. At the time I was feeling "uck" and just wanted to get the climb over with, but I could see the summit so that is to be expected. My AMS symptoms never really progressed beyond the mild stage, and I never threw up or felt dizzy. I wonder how I would have done with a few more days at this altitude, would it have gotten better or worse?
How warm I was able to stay in my sleeping bag. I had moderate concerns about sleeping cold, but figured I would just deal with it. Turns out I didn't have to as I was always able to warm right up if I got slightly cold in the bag.
How incredibly sore my legs were after the descent. I have never been sore like that before, even after 22 miles and 6,000 ft up and down on Mt. Whitney in one day.
Would I Do Anything Different?
Probably not. I think the route we took was good and going first class was a good choice as well. I would not have liked to start at midnight climbing the Western Breach and then climb all the way down to Mweka Camp in one day. While I'm sure I could have done it, the summit experience would likely have not been as enjoyable.
I might try the Diamox instead of just Gingko Biloba. I was spooked pre-trip from some bad reactions to prescription drugs and decided to swear them all off. It's hard to say how much it would have helped me as I ultimately summited with only mild to moderate AMS symptoms. But who knows it may have helped a bunch.
I would take Chicken Noodle Cup of Soup and Clif Shots (energy gel) along for the high altitude / no appetite days. I figure at night instead of sipping hot tea I could be sipping hot Cup of Soup instead and picking up some calories. And I figure when I start to bonk on the climb, instead of trying to gag down a Clif Bar I can gulp down a Clif Shot for instant energy.
Would I Do it Again and What is Next?
Tough questions. Towards the end of the climb I was thinking that I would not do it again. However like anything, as time passes the pain fades and the urge to climb rears its head again. I think I would do Kilimanjaro again if when my son got older he had a desire to do so, assuming I'm still in good enough shape to do it. For me a large part of the climb was mental and emotional. Now that I know what to expect and how my body reacts, I think a climb at high altitude would be a little easier.
On the other hand I am not going to rush off to go to 19,000 ft again in the near future. Most other high altitude mountains require that the climber carry much more weight than we did on Kilimanjaro and many require glacier/snow skills. Next year I may just stick with a week long backpack trip out west somewhere and bag a couple of 14'ers. I'm also thinking that I may take a glacier class and try my hand at Mt. Rainier. That way I'll find out if I want to pursue some of the more interesting high altitude peaks around the world.
Back to the main Kilimanjaro page