The stars at night are like fairy dust, there are so many. The vastness of the country, the green and golden plains, the silhouettes of sharp trees against immense, empty can feel your soul expanding. The animals - things you have only seen in the zoo, roaming freely, masters of their own space. Brightly-coloured birds popping out of the bush like confetti. From the tent, lying in your silken sleeping bag, just listening to all the sounds of the natural world - the calls and hoots and thudding of hoofs, the wind through the leaves, the crackle of the campfire. Absolutely magical. - Min

Monday, March 21, 2011

22 Kili tips by Su and Min

What worked for us and what didn't?

1. Respect the sun. Even if it's cold outside, the sun does burn. i burnt:( and peeled. retrospectively, i should have used Bhaskaran's SPF 80 or SPF 1000 if anyone carried that.

2. i only just discovered that Camper's Corner carries duffel bags that have inbuilt, in lined dry bags. How cool is that? That saves having to dry bag the contents of one's duffel bag in case of rain.

3. Camel backs or Nalgene bottles? i think bringing both gives one options. i guess it's personal but in the end, i used my camel back almost exclusively. Because we started the summit assault at 4 am, most of the climb to the peak was in sunlight, so we didn't have to worry about eh water freezing in the tubing, and i think i consumed so much energy just to breathe and walk, it would have taken too much effort on the way up to Gilman to reach for a Nalgene in my day pack. The Nalgene was very good for the nights when it doubled up as a hot water bottle and the water could be used the next morning for drinking or brushing teeth.

4. SOME comfort food is good to pack, even if you're the kind that's NOT fussed about food. Even if one does not get severe altitude sickness that is bad enough to make you descend, the altitude may make one nauseous and anorexic. Instant cup noodles (or whatever is one's equivalent comfort food) may be quite welcomed by Day 4 or Day 5 of the climb.

5. Forget about dry shampoo if the kind you bring makes your head damp. Your hair doesn't really dry and it's unpleasant when it's damp.

6. Bode carries a great wet wipe which is large and meant to be used to clean bed bound patients. One sheet is usually good to clean almost the entire body. It's mildly soapy and has a neutral PH. It can double up as a face towel if you have a basin of water to wash with.

7. For gals, it's a good idea to have a device like P mate or the equivalent to help you pee like a boy in your tent at night. When it's snowy or very cold, one may not relish a walk to the toilet hut or toilet tent.

8. If you have a choice of color for your attire, try to pick colors that aren't all black. Makes it easier to find things in your tent in the dark. Was difficult for me to find my stuff when my down jacket, my fleece, my thermals and my trekking pants were all black!
If you can, pick trekking pants that are khakis or camel or sand or brown; the dust and clay shows up less obviously than on very dark colors.

9. Save the cereal bars and cadbury's for the lower altitudes and higher quality melt-in-the-mouth chocs like Godiva for summit day. Gu Chews too. Nearer the summit, my cadbury's and Lindt was so frozen and rock hard i could hardly bite into it, and it tasted like wax in my mouth.

10. After you have summitted and descended on the final day and walked back to the very start, signed in the book, and get onto the bus that will take you back to Arusha, it may be good to take off your climbing boots and wear sandals. My feet swelled very badly.

11. i guess it depends on your Climbing company, but it helps if the one you signed on with provides you a guide who is very comfortable with dealing with AMS. Even though i had boned up on AMS before the trip, it was mostly theoretical for me as this was my first experience being at high altitude. It was helpful to have a guide who had experience and relied on that, and his good instincts when i had doubts. Then you know that he is going to do everything to help you summit, barring genuine AMS.

12. Pay that extra US$10 a day to rent that portable toilet hut. It's a necessity, not a luxury.

13. For gals, the most comfortable brand of disposable underwear i've found is Hi Jean ( i know the name is corny) and i found it at the Japanese Pharmacy at Isetan .

14. It's possible to use Daily disposable contact lens. i had brought along my spectacles, and made a pair of sunglasses with prescription along too, in case conditions were such, that it was too hard to ensure my hands were clean enough to be fiddling with contact lens. I found that not to be a problem. You just need hand sanitizer and sterile saline sachets.

15. When you take your boots off at the end of each climbing day, you may want footwear that's not too hard to take off and put on when you go in and out of your tent. i brought my Nike Trainers, but in retrospect, it would have been easier to wear socks and put on flip flops or sandals. When the air gets thin, and even moving stuff around the tent became an effort.

16. Covered toe teva sandals were great as outdoor shoes - good for walking on rocky ground, yet breathable for the feet.

17. Good walking sticks are absolutely essential. Make sure you have those little skirt things at the tips for hiking through snow.

18. Gaiters are helpful when going down through all the scree, otherwise little pebbles will get into your boots and pants.

19. Bring plenty of plastic bags - one a day for trash and some to spare as sick bags! I brought fewer plastic bags than I found that I needed.

20. The day summit, starting at 4:30 am rather than midnight, is good for those who are not such strong climbers. It lets you rest more, and you climb when it's a little warmer.

21. Bring a bunch of ang pows to put each crew member's tips in. Looks elegant, is organised, and discreet. (Great idea, Cheryl!)

22. Bring a very good headtorch and two sets of spare batteries. I often liked to leave the torch on for long periods, especially when I was lying ill in the tent. The glow was quite comforting.

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