My quest to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro by John Hamnett

Later this month, I’ll be saying goodbye to Ollerton and hello to Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest mountain.

And I won’t be coming home until I’ve walked all the way to the summit, which is more than 19,300 feet high.

To put it into some kind of perspective, someone told me recently that’s like scaling the UK’s tallest building (The Shard in London) 19 times.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

When you put it like that it’s a daunting prospect, but tackling the mountain is a lifelong dream of mine and I’m not going to let it defeat me – especially as I’m doing it for a cancer hospital in Sheffield that is very close to my heart and that of my colleagues at A1 Flue Systems.

So how do you prepare for such an epic trek that is classified as a grade five extreme challenge, the highest level there is?

I think the simple answer is that there’s nothing that will be able to prepare me for both the breath-taking beauty and punishing brutality of Kilimanjaro.

You’d think that being an ultra-hard moors runner – that’s where crazy fools like me run marathons of between 26.2 and 60 miles across fells – would stand me in good stead for Kilimanjaro.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But actually, it’s more likely to be a problem because I’ll be more prone to altitude sickness, which can spiral into dangerous levels of dehydration.

If that happens, then the medics who come with us will stop me there and then and it’ll be game over.

Believe it or not, it only takes five days to reach the top travelling along the Machame Route.

But it’s the final push to the summit that will be the hardest, as it’s a 20-hour trek.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

I think I’m as prepared as I can be, as my training has been meticulous and I’m currently running about 50 miles a week.

For me, the unknown will be the extreme cold, as temperatures are as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius, without the wind chill factor.

The guides have given us all sorts of weird and wonderful advice about dealing with the cold.

The one I never, ever thought about was putting items such as mobile phones in your socks at night.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The reason is to keep the batteries as warm as possible, otherwise they won’t work.

Not that I’m planning to be on my phone because once we leave base camp, there’ll be nowhere to charge a phone on the mountain.

When I get to the top, I’m planning to do what most other people do – unfurl a flag.

Mine’s got a few logos on, including A1 and Weston Park Hospital cancer charity in honour of all my friends and family who have supported me and for those people for whom battling cancer is as tough as climbing a mountain not just once but having to do it every day.

Related topics: