Kilimanjaro the Challenge!
Although on the wrong side of 50, I’m reasonably fit. With training, what could possibly go wrong? During the hours and hours of walking/training I have put, in I have considered the above question.
I have read books on Kili and spoken to people who have both succeeded and failed in reaching the “Summit of Africa” at 19,344 ft. In some cases, I had to put down the books as they told of the worst experiences of Kili trekkers. The picture of the memorial plaque of the first person who died attempting Kili was sobering. I read that approximately 10 trekkers die every year in the attempt. This is not to be taken lightly.
Basically, I’d simplify the challenges/risks into:
Each requires different approaches…
Go slowly. The most at-risk group is ultra-competitive uber males!
Go High/Sleep Low. Climb higher in the day and then go back down to sleep.
I historically use the gym for running 10Ks, so I think I’m reasonably fit. However, running is not the best preparation. Walk, walk, walk. For hours, hours, hours. Sun, clouds, rain. Whenever possible, find hills. If you can’t find any, use the hill walker in the gym (set to maximum incline).
When the going gets tough…the tough get going! Everyone who has taken on a challenge that takes more than a short time will know that, at some point, you just run low on drive. You think it’s physical, but actually its mental drive.
On the summit day—well, night actually—we will be awoken at midnight and spend eight hours trudging slowly, slowly in the dark to the summit. This is the time when you will need all your focus and energy. You are tired from cumulative nights sleeping in a tent on the floor in the elements. You are physically tired from five days of effort (like you have not done since you were in your 20s). The altitude results in your having to stop every three steps, as you feel like your lungs are collapsing. And, not unusually, your head feels like it is going to explode.
So, back to my original question: I’m reasonably fit, so what can possibly go wrong? I will answer this from the bottom up...
Feet: Blisters the size of golf balls
Calves: Cramps at night (I have suffered this often during my training… It’s not a heart attack, but the pain is intense for a moment)
Knees: Crunched from coming down (I’ve always preferred going up to coming down, due to my knees). I’ve had an MRI on my right knee and have a cartilage + operation planned on my return.
Thighs: I could be OK on this one
Hips: Wear and tear
Stomach muscles: Often, coming back from a practice hill climb I’ve found I ached here
Stomach: Diarrhea (enough said), vomiting, nausea, etc.
Lungs: Lung edema
Shoulders: When did you last carry a backpack for seven days?
Eyes: High altitude dramatically increases the light intensity
Brain: Brain edema
So, nothing to worry about, then!
Putting this into perspective, many, many people reach the summit. Whether they summit or not, most people talk of a life experience that they will never forget.
I’ve put in the training. I have researched well. I will follow the guides’ advice to go “slowly, slowly.” God willing, I will summit. Regardless, the cancer charity will be richer and the awareness of male cancers will be much greater!
My climb starts August 27; so this will be my last entry for a while. Before I go, here’s an update on my charities…
Below is a picture from the “Executive Car Wash” held at Future to raise money for the Children’s Orphanage I will visit while in Tanzania. Approximately $500 was raised during the lunch break…then it was back to work designing in/selling Microchip!
Myself and two of my talented car-wash assistants
What is Everyman?
Everyman is run by the Institute of Cancer Research; one of the top four cancer research organizations in the world. They are internationally renowned scientists researching prostate and testicular cancer.
Statistics from the UK, which are representative of most countries:
Male cancers affect +37,000 men annually, and the number is increasing.
Prostate Cancer kills one man an hour, and is the most common cancer in men.
Testicular Cancer is most common in men aged 15-44.
The incidence of Testicular Cancer has doubled in the last 30 years.
Testicular cancer is 95% curable, if treated early.
Men are notoriously bad at discussing health matters.
Research in Male Cancers is more than 10 years behind female cancers.
The money spent on researching male cancers is far less than female cancers.
In summary, too many men are dying from cancer and not enough is being done about it!