3 November 2017
Last month, SparkOptimus Manager Jonathan Joubert embarked on an adventure.
A nine-day trek aimed at summitting Mount Kilimanjaro. This mountain near the equator has beautiful glaciers, which are rapidly disappearing unfortunately. With 5895m of height “Kili” is the roof of Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world. It is the easiest of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of each of the seven continents, because the trek does not involve mountaineering skills, is well-reachable and has not that terrible weather conditions.
Easy is a relative term, though. First, there is the altitude difference, roughly 7km up and 7km down, however quite doable with basic physical fitness. Second, the oxygen issue: at an altitude of 3000m, oxygen levels are about 25% lower than at sea-level, and at 6000m about 50% lower. Which means that just walking slowly (“pole pole” in Swahili) gives you a heart rate of already 140. So towards the summit your breathing feels like you’re sprinting, even when you’re standing still. Finally, temperatures drop below zero every night – so after dinner you only want to retreat quickly into a sleeping bag – and during summit night one can expect minus 20 Celsius plus wind-chill.
On the other hand, in Tanzania, all summit treks must be done with guides & porters – for better success chances and for higher local employment. Multiple porters per paying climber mean that all you need is to drag yourself up, besides a daypack with water, sweater, etc. Also, good meals including fresh fruit & vegetables help to make it a more comfortable experience.
Jonathan had months of preparation, e.g. lots of fitness training, altitude training with an oxygen-deprivation mask, and gathering the necessary equipment. Plus, even skipping on a few soccer matches to ensure an injury-free start. In the end, the training paid off – not A|B tested – and he summitted with full moon early October. Awesome views made the long trek very much worth it. One less item on the bucket list!