Let me set the scene, it’s the 22nd of September, I’m in London for work. Filming an interview with an incredible adventurer and world record holder. I pack up my equipment and as I’m about to leave for my hotel room. My boss pulls me aside and says “Kallum, if we can get you a flight, are you up for coming to climb Mount Kilimanjaro next week?”.
I woke up moments later after fainting…
I think my response was “HELL YES!”. No training, no equipment, no film prep. I was about to find a new place to live because my tenancy was about to end, which means I would come back technically homeless. But f*ck it, how often do you get offered to be paid to climb a mountain? If you’re me, the odds are 1/11,468 per day apparently (I did the math, just trust me).
Smash cut to 2 weeks later and I’m about to summit. I’m tired. Nautious. Freezing cold. But I manage to keep putting one foot in front of the other until I finally reach Uhuru Peak. The highest point in Africa. The top of Mount Kilimanjaro.
So let me tell you my top 5 reasons why you should do the same.
5) It sustains the local community
I don’t think I fully appreciated this point before I was there. But I’m writing this in October 2020, deep into the corona virus pandemic. Travelling is severely restricted and for the most part, very few people have summited the mountain in the past 3-6 months. There are tonnes of people that rely on this as their main source of income. There’s the chefs, the porters, the guides, the trekking agencies and all of the local hotels, restaurants, food producers, merchants etc. in nearby towns and cities such as Moshi, where we stayed.
The people were so grateful, not only to be able to return to the work that they love but also to be able to have their industry and livelihood supported financially. They make money from tips, and for a country who’s currency is 3,023 to £1, your tips can go a long way.
4) Kilimanjaro is the highest free-standing mountain IN THE WORLD
Mount Kilimanjaro stands at 5,895 metres from sea level and 4,900 metres from it’s base. It’s not the highest mountain in the world, but it is the highest free-standing mountain. Meaning it is the highest mountain that isn’t part of a mountain range. Therefore not only do you get an incredible view when you start to ascend the tall, towering, free standing mountain. But when you summit, you get 360 degree panaramic views, unimpeded by other mountains. Just gorgeous views as far as the eye can see.
3) Incredible views and wildlife
Since I mentioned the views, it is absolutely STUNNING! Never before have I seen the horizon from the perspective I did on the mountain. It was so high and so long I felt I could see the curvature of the Earth (don’t @ me flat earthers, it’s just how it looked haha). Never before have I seen the lights from the stars and the moon glow bright white the way I did on the mountain. And never before have I seen some of the incredible trees and foliage that I did on the mountain.
But wait, there’s more!
Before we even started the ascent, we had seen giraffes grazing by the side of the road. Near the base there’s an incredible jungle with monkeys and trees so wide and lush I was in amazement. The sunsets were incredible. The clouds are almost constantly below you which never failed to amaze, and watching the sunrise from the highest point in Africa is an un-rivaled vision of beauty.
2) Kilimanjaro – The easiest climb in the 7 summits
The 7 summits are the highest mountains in each continent.
- Everest in Asia
- Kilimanjaro in Africa
- Denali in North America
- Aconcagua in South America
- Carstensz in Australasia
- Vinson in Antarctica
- Elbrus in Europe
The average non-adventure seeker will have no desire to complete all 7 but if you wanted to dip your toe in the waters of the 7 summits, Kilimanjaro is definitely the summit to start with. Most of the summits require some rock climbing ability or a degree of technical hiking knowledge. But Kilimanjaro just requires a lot of drive and determination. Which brings me to my 5th and most important reason.
1) Mentally push boundaries
I did not realise just how mentally difficult it would be to climb a mountain. It is unlike anything I’ve climbed casually in France, Canada or the UK. It pushed me to a place of discomfort that I can’t quite describe and is definitely the most mentally challenging thing I’ve done.
The only thing keeping me going was the sheer determination that I was going to beat it and get to the top. Every part of me wanted to stop, wanted to lay down, catch my breath, rest. But it’s times like that, that you’re able to show the true extent of your will power. When there’s nothing keeping you going, no real reason or benefit to keep going other than perseverance and grit. Once you’ve gone through something like that, with an amazing and friendly group of individuals, there’s very little that can stand in your way, or stop you from achieving any goal you might set
It’s nice to have something positive to blog about in 2020.
Catch you in the next one!
Love, Kallum <3