|By Julia Hubbel
From Lakewood Co
Dec 8, 2013
Let's be clear. Peter Hubbel, my big brother, who passed away last year in October, was the climber in my family. Competent, crazy competent. Not my sport. However, he did take me on one climb= a 5.7 crack, in RMNP when I was in my twenties. That was forty years ago. However, being my brother's sister, I love adventure. What he did on rocks, I did in the air, sea, on horses, overseas, just about everywhere else. And so when a buddy suggested that I do Kilimanjaro as my first major trek, at sixty, I grabbed this by the tail.
My trek was helped hugely by hiring E-Trip Africa to plan out the trek, along with the rest of my Africa safari (time in isolated bush camps, a three day camel sfari). Ben Jennings has a superb team of guides and porters that, unlike many of the big operators, gets a living salary so they don't struggle to live on tips. That means that there's a commitment to your safety, which includes the checking of your pulse and oxy content every day, to making sure you're fed really good and yummy food so that your usually waning appetite stays fully engaged. Mine sure did.
As a serious athlete anyway I already had a good workout program. But for Kili, I decided to bring my best lean form to the basecamp for ascent day. That mean to research good prep programs on line. Most were for people who didn't already work out. But some were an inspiration, and I added swimming to my regimen, and doubled my workouts from June to about August.
From September through October I tripled the workouts which included running 3800 steps several times a week at the Red Rocks AMphitheatre, swimming an hour, cycling 20 miles, bodybuilding at least 60 90 minutes, riding horseback regularly. I'd combine an hour each of a mix of these things along with a hour on my training bike every night, along with hikes with a 20 lb weighted vest of at least 6-8 miles several times a week to break in my Asolos.
I dropped from 125 to 116 in those months and down to about 6% body fat, and had to start drinking Vitargo and Octane for muscle growth. I did my due diligence on the web for the best gear and was happy to find the Clymb and Spadout for more expensive options. E-Trip provided excellent gear lists but since I have Reynaud's I had to bring some extras for hands and head and feet, which worked wonders.
On the way up, Ranik, our cook, plied us with porridge and omelets and fresh fruit, chicken and lovely soups and fresh juices, and vegetable dishes. Nothing of the crud I'd heard others complain about. We began at around 8K feet, and worked our way up slowly to base camp at 15k. The conditioning paid off handsomely, as my pulse ranged from 56 at the start to 71 at base camp.
The only glitch, and no one caught this, was that I had some symptoms which we misunderstood as side effects of the Diomox for altitude sickness. My energy level was great, so at midnight we started up the mountain. The moon was full, the night clear, and up we went. I had no idea that I had intestinal flu, and that by the time I hit the summit I'd be sick as the proverbial puppy. I hallucinated giraffes and a floating mess tent at 17k but I laughed into my balaclava, and continued listening to Wagner and George Carlin on the march up the mountain.
My Platypus froze on top after we reached Gilman's Point and ate some peanut butter before it froze (one ounce packs) and my guide had to beat the insulated tube like a dead snake to work out the ice and get me some liquids which I sorely needed.
The challenge was more getting down, due to knee surgery from a training injury. Descent is on slippery gravel, sand and rocks, and many people "ski" down. I don't ski- and about a third of the way down my left foot cranked on a rock and my knee yelped, and at that point my guides helped me get down. As in many cases it takes a village to get you up to the summit and a village to get you down. Close to base camp our porters met us with delicious mango juice (nectar of the gods) and I hit the tend to rest and drink water.
A light knee brace was more than enough to get me through the next day's 15 mile hike to the entry gate.
E-Trip Africa's team has been working together for six years plus and the teamwork shows. I counted on them to be a great partnership up the mountain, to allow me my best chance to summit. It was my job to prep to be ready to head up and make Uhuru Point. But knowing I was in excellent hands, that I was being constantly checked, that my food preferences were cared for and meal time was a joy-these things were signs of a good company. They also do charity climbs and give back to the community. If anyone else is curious about doing Kili with a good company, please ask me.