This coming June 20th I will be embarking on another extreme father/daughter bonding session with #2 offspring, Alice. She will have just turned 16 years old.
We will set off via London and then Addis Ababa to Kilimanjaro. We will have the night to recover from this rather arduous journey and the next day we will set off to trek up Africa's highest mountain.
The trek itself is not overly technical, so we won't require any experience using ropes and the like, but the true danger comes from the altitude - an estimated 50,000 people attempt Kilimanjaro every year and the vast majority succeed. However, an unconfirmed 10 people perish every year due to acute altitude sickness. In order to minimise that risk we have secured the services of a well respected tour company that provide experienced guides and will monitor us for early signs of altitude sickness every day.
We have also decided to trek up the less popular but less crowded Rongai route, giving us a relatively long 5 days to acclimatise gradually before attempting to summit and then descend over the next day and a half. The total mileage will be around 85km, but obviously with massive vertical!
We will be camping in tents at every stage and have been told to secure sleeping bags rated for -30 degrees Celsius. This will test Alice and me, and our relationship! given the physical activity as well as the fatigue coming from camping at altitude. We will have porters to help carry our gear, though, and will be carrying around 5kg on our backs.
Not only do we have all that to deal with we also have our own medical conditions. I have written at length about the challenges of Alice's type one Diabetes, but the mountain will throw up other challenges such as freezing insulin and tech that won't work in the cold and at altitude, not to mention securing an electrical supply so that we can charge everything up every couple of days. On my part I have Atrial Fibrillation and a known trigger of that can be altitude. I haven't found that to be an issue for me either skiing or ultra running, and have been heavily monitored (even more than normal) by my rather lovely cardiologist. She also reassured me that she had a 55 year old patient that managed to summit Everest with the same condition as me. Last week I had a 24hr ECG and went to see the cardiologist where I had an ultrasound and a stress test (on the bike). Apparently my 24hr ECG was "beautiful" - only 10 extrasystolic heart beats in 24hrs, which is lower than a normal person. I only had 1 ES heartbeat on the bike, and the cardiologist reckoned she would have 10. Also my legs gave out long before my heart rate threshold was reached on the bike - she said heart would go on forever and was very strong.
We are raising money for Diabetes UK once again. Please consider visiting our fundraising page here