Yikes. This experience has been on our bucket list for years. When we made the decision to leave our jobs and pursue long term travel, this was at the top of our list of things we wanted to accomplish. We went back and forth for over a year before finalizing our booking. Should we do it? Is it too dangerous? After all, 10 people die every year from altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro. Annie was the hero in making the final decision. When Adam was hesitant, she drove us forward and we wired our deposit to a bank account in Tanzania.
We wrote the below before leaving for Kilimanjaro.
ADAM: He is really excited to see the stars at night and to walk through the different climate zones. Adam thinks that he will feel complete satisfaction once we get back down and a sense that we have accomplished something huge together. He’s nervous about how his body will hold up with altitude, but that is part of the excitement.
ANNIE: She is definitely nervous about what it will be like. She is hoping the altitude doesn’t affect either of us too much. She admits she probably hasn’t fully processed what a physical adventure this will be, but that might be a good thing. She is very grateful to have Adam by my side.
Last Supper Before the Climb
On the evening before our climb, we ate dinner with Freddy, two Germans heading out on safari the next day, and a British doctor who started a clinic in Moshi. We were inspired by the doctor’s stories of starting his clinic. He spends a few months a year in Moshi monitoring the progress. They inoculate children and treat all sorts of maladies from the local village. The conversation quickly turned toward the climb.
Though the doctor was very friendly and funny, he did not help to alleviate our concerns about the climb. He told horror stories of tourists coming down with severe illnesses from altitude sickness, like HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) or HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema) and barely surviving thanks to his treatments. Freddy tried to counteract the stories by reassuring us that we’ll be safe on the climb.
Wilfred or Freddy started his own trekking company up Kilimanjaro. He’s also the first Tanzanian to climb Everest and he told us how he miraculously raised $100,000 in the span of 5 months to climb it. He still wasn’t sure whether he’d be going up Mt. Everest until 2 weeks prior to the trip. He has some wild stories: about couples breaking up on the mountain and another where 3 crazies showed up with no gear and wanted to climb the mountain in 3 days. He advised against it, but ultimately brought them to the top.