Time for Lillian Gaitho’s mid week topics

Lillian this week takes a look at how best to prepare for mountain climbing and truth told, there are plenty of opportunities across Eastern Africa to explore alpine hikes and climbs, from Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains, aka Mountains of the Moon – the arguably most challenging mountain range in Africa – to Mt. Elgon, Mt. Kenya, Mt. Longonot and of course Mt. Kilimanjaro.

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Six Tips to Prepare you for Mountain Climbing

Despite being marked as an extreme sport, mountain climbing can be a highly rewarding and fun experience, especially when done right. Nothing however can prepare you fully for the terrain experience, the (sometimes) unpredictable weather, stretches of wilderness and dangers lurking from the (non) existing human interaction and creature comforts. With a world of climbers making their maiden visit in Africa to scale the numerous peaks across the continent does Lillian this week offers some guidelines to ensure that you are adequately prepared for your next exhilarating climb.

Training and wholesome prepping

Whether taking up Everest, or scaling up Mt. Kilimanjaro-the roof of Africa- you will require steady training before the D-day. Part of the physical and endurance training will involve taking up smaller challenges including rock climbing, hill and escarpments, terrain training and even the usual jogging to strengthen your muscle set. For instance, most teams angling for Mt. Kenya will climb Elephant hills in Aberdares and also scale up Mt. Longonot as part of their physical fitness training. Both ascent and descent will require stability and endurance that you can only build up over a period of consistent training.

Your mental wellbeing

Positive thinking goes hand in hand with physical fitness; your mind must believe that you can. Keep your mind open to new challenges and scenarios that may call for slight deviation from laid-out routes. Once up on the moor, remember nature is at nomortal’s behest and may decide to go haywire on your itinerary without prior notice, sometimes causing unseen delays. Your mental stamina is the greatest tool to push your muscles past hard terrains and rough patches; keep it well oiled by supplying it with endless positive energy and cause to hoist your flag on the summit.

The right equipments and adequate drinking water

Part of your preparation is to ensure that you have a professionally assembled climbing kit. Apart from making easier your climb, it’s a lifesaver in all ways thinkable. Once in touch with your guide, get a list of what you’ll require and check off as you park each item in tip-top condition and with know-how on it’s operation. From technical pieces for support to protective gear against falls or falling objects, counter check your list against your gear before setting off. Once the kit is in place, pack water in a water bottle that can be filled to avoid litter as well as make it easier to pack and carry around. You’ll be advised on the safety of the water upstream on the mountain, but you can also pack some sterilizing tablets just to be sure. Dehydration can be fatal on high altitude, thus, you’ll need to keep your water bottle close by even when you are not sweating as you will still lose measures of fluid through breathing, urination and body perspiration.

Getting the clothing right

Next after packing your climbing kit is your backpack that’ll make your wardrobe while on the expedition. You will definitely need your guide to direct you on this one as well, though some basics include well fitting and “breathing” underwear. You are advised to shop for clothing that has “wicking” properties; this enables it to draw moisture away from the body and allows it to evaporate thereby maintain the body temp. The wicking layer can be followed by warmer and absorbent clothing, before layering the ultimate protector in your outermost layer, mostly in the form of a jacket, ensure it’s waterproof, breathable and a wind breaker. Thermal hiking socks and gloves, head protection which must be as warm to protect you from the cold winds, sun protection lotion and sunglasses, rain coat and the right shoes for the days when the clouds decide to let lose their components on your caravan. Once you’ve checked all basic items, add a second and third change of apparel, but keep your pack as light as possible. It’s important to pack extra shoes and socks together with the hiking and climbing boots since you may find yourself waddling in paddles of waters or swamps.

Adequate travel and medical Insurance

Travel insurance cannot be downplayed, not especially for such activities as mountain climbing which are classified by some insurers as “extreme sports”. When shopping for this particular service, check out aspects such as the group (s) covered under different altitudes, cover for solo and group climbers, search and rescue as well as the amounts of investment or premium and its mode of payment. Be careful to read and understand the underwriter’s T&Cs as they may contain clauses that could possibly invalidate your cover in relation to proper use of equipments, right climbing gear, personal exposure and vigilance.

Thank your body

Once you take on the summit and make a successful descent, remember to thank and reward your body for it’s endurance. Take a break and celebrate this lifetime experience even as you prepare to chart out the next project. It’s also worth of note that most accidents happen during the descent, perhaps because of the anticipated party at the base, but also due to the fast drop in altitude. Pay attention to your guide to pave way for a great celebration downhill.

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