Climbing requirements

Climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro needs good preparation and a good condition.

When conditions are normal, climbers following the recommended routes to the summit of Kibo Peak need no special climbing equipment apart from warm clothing, gloves, a hat, boots with extra socks, sun glasses or goggles, sun blocker and a walking stick are required. It can be very hard to climb the mountains, but whether or not you make it to the top depends on your will to get there and the condition you are in. You don't need special climbing experience to make it, and as long as you are fit; age is not important. Some people get altitude sickness, so make sure you give yourself enough time to acclimatize to the height. A water bottle able to hold 1 to 2 litres of water plus asperine or similar and sleeplysness tablets may be helpful.
As appetites may be affected, light snacks such as sweets, biscuits and fruit are a good source for maintaining energy.
Further usefull items include a torch, tiolet paper, gaiters and a little cash, as soda and beers are sold at the huts on Marangu Route.

Fitness

You must be in good condition. You should be able to jog or run for half an hour without feeling out of breath. No one with sore throat or other breathing problems should go above 3000 meters. lf you have heart or lung problems the mountain should not be attempted at all without consulting the Doctor.

Altitude

As you ascend the oxygen in the air decreases. Low oxygen in blood causes shortness of breath during exertion, increased ventilation and heart beats.

Thinking may be slow and co-ordination may be difficult. You can acclimatize or adapt to the altitude by ascending slowly and pacing yourself, avoiding exertion and breathing regularly and deeply.

Fluids

Every one should drink 4-5 litres of fluid each day. Water is best. But fruit juices are a good supplement. Carry your water bottle at all times, as dehydration is a real problem on the mountain. The water bottle should be carried inside your anorak to avoid the water becoming chilled at higher altitudes as it is important that you do not drink chilled water.

We recommend that you should abstain from drinking alcohol for at least two weeks before and during the climb.

Clothing and your body

Many people become overheated when climbing so it is best to dress in layers - for instance under-shirt, over-shirt, sweater and jacket. Sweating causes loss of body fluid whilst at the same time soaking your clothes, which rapidly become cold in the wind or shade. Remove layers as you heat up and be sure to put them back on when you stop to rest or enter a shadow. lf you do get wet put on dry clothes immediately.

The winds around the saddle and summit can cause heat loss by evaporation so a windproof jacket is required. Hats and caps are also recommended as they prevent heat loss from the scalp and shade your eyes from glare. A balaclava hat is useful at the highest altitudes. You will probably need sunglasses and sun block cream. Avoid tight clothing particularly shoes, as they impede ciclation and cause chafing or irritation, so wear loose comfortable things and well broken-in boots.

Temperatures

The following minimum temperatures at night can be expected within the corresponding altitudes:

2700 m: 5-10 degrees Celsius; 3700 m: 0 degrees Celsius; 4700 m: minus 5-10 degrees Celsius; summit: minus 10-15 degrees Celsius.

As a rule of thumb, temperature decreases by approximately 1 degree Celsius for every 200 meters. Nighttime temperatures are obviously the lowest and during the daytime, if the sun is shining, a T-shirt can be worn even at relatively high altitudes, although warm clothing should always be kept close at hand owing to sudden changes of temperature. Also wind chill factor and prevailing weather conditions can affect temperatures quite dramatically.

Note: in preparation for Kilimanjaro, we recommend Mt Meru or Ol Donyo Lengai as an alternative