Dusty and I go on lots of adventures together, but we are intentional about planning one big adventure every year. We alternate who picks the destination, and it usually pulls us to the edge of our personal and collective comfort zones—which is exactly where we fell in love in the first place. This year I got to pick, and I chose climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro.
At 19,341 feet, Mt. Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain in Africa, earning it a spot on the list of the "Seven Summits" (the tallest mountain on each continent, a bucket list accomplishment for individuals who really like checklists). I've climbed Kilimanjaro once before, in 2009 with a girlfriend, but it's something I've always wanted to share with Dusty. And like I always say, anything worth doing is worth doing twice.
It is illegal to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro without hiring a guide, so our first step was to select a guide service. We booked with Tanzania on Foot, our head guide was Alex, and our assistant guide was Patrick. We chose the 5-day Marangu Route, also known as The Coca-Cola Route, because it's the most popular route for tourists, due to it's brevity. (Most other routes up Kilimanjaro are 6- or even 7-day routes, allowing more time for acclimation and better summit odds.) Going into the climb, we knew that choosing a 5-day itinerary would hurt our chances of summiting (Marangu's 5-day itinerary has about a 50% summit rate), but our travel schedule was tight and only allowed for five days. We decided to risk it.
As we packed and agonized over every little cubic centimeter of our backpacks, one of the major questions we kept asking (and googling) was, "What should we wear to hike?... and sleep?... and on summit day?" Every hiker knows that gear selection can be a stress-inducing process, and this was one such case. Hence, the inspiration for the series title. For each day, I'll break down what I (and sometimes Dusty) wore and when and why (and what we might have done differently). I'll also provide other information as it pertains to our story (and your Kili aspirations).
My hope is this series of articles comes in handy to some other Kilimanjaro hopeful somewhere along the way. Catch up with the rest of the story by jumping to >> DAY 1 DAY 2 DAY 3 DAY 4 DAY 5 ...and as always, please don't hesitate to email me (email@example.com) with additional questions.
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