Alison M. Jones Photography:
Advice for a Kilimanjaro Climb

Traditional Maasai wisdom is to carry a goat to keep warm.
     — Jackson Lesooyia, Maasai guide

If your feet are cold, put on a hat.

Enjoy each beautiful step.

Some people like to count steps on last day from one stop to the next – to push themselves and maintain good progress; but some find that boring.

Don’t stop if tired, just slow down. Otherwise your system takes steps backward.

After the climb, keep stretching for several days to prevent lactic acid buildup and cramping.
     — Mike Rainy, Leader of 4 student-climbs

Match your breathing to your stepping.

If you have an oxygen crisis stop for up to 45 minutes. First sit with your head between your legs to get oxygen to your head, then sit up straight and do deep abdominal breathing.

Good posture while climbing allows 40% more oxygen into the lungs.
     — Judy Rainey, a former dancer

To save energy use rocks and any bumps on the path to step on and rock forward with as an added propellant.
     — Alisa Rekow, fellow climber

Eat more than usual for a couple weeks before the climb to stretch your stomach so you can absorb more fuel during the climb for those extra needs.

When going gets tough just skim your feet over surface as you walk, don’t waste energy lifting foot up.

If blisters begin to be a problem, to coat in and outsides of liner socks with Vaseline to further reduce friction.

Rub Vaseline inside nose to reduce dryness and bleeding at high altitudes, and use Dermatone for chapped nose and lips.
     — Robin MacEwan, my daughter

Go pole pole and carry a hip flask of brandy.
     — Tony Church, safari guide, first climbed Kili in the 50’s via Kenyan side, over-nighting in caves en route.

Small steps a mountain make.

When breathing at high altitudes, purse your lips when breathing out to force some of the oxygen in your breath back into your system.

For blisters: DON’T LET THEM HAPPEN! STOP! If you get a red spot or blister, cut a donut hole in moleskin and use sock liners to reduce friction.
     — Robin Sears, completed Peruvian technical climbs of 19,000’

Pay attention to your walking to avoid stumbling and hurting your self especially first day and first hour of each day – when very excited!


Take 1 aspirin (or Tylenol if on Diamox) with 1 Advil morning and night as preventative and to cover all bases.
     — Jim at Rafiki Books

Miscellaneous — Developed from our experience on the mountain

  • Wear a tummy bag for small items you want easy access to without taking off your backpack (camera, tissues, candies, lip balm, notepad and pen).
  • Put a packet of Emergen-C in camelback each morning when you fill it with water to avoid mineral taste of Kili’s water and/or plastic taste of camelback. This also gives you a bit of added fuel through the day.
  • Bring at least one chamois cloth – towels provided are 12” by 18” and thin.
  • Pack sneakers or other comfy shoes for time in camp (but it can be muddy so make sure they are suitable for that).
  • Use hiking poles. It is estimated that using them on Kili reduces the weight your knees carry by 3 tons!
  • Take toe warmers and hand warmers for final ascent early morning hours.
  • Take power bars, chocolate, etcÉ for fuel boosts. On final ascent day take small packets of liquid protein for instant energy – honey gel was the most effective. Protein bars freeze and are very hard to digest at this altitude.
  • Take a nailbrush and a washcloth to scrub off dirt on return to hotel.
  • Consider taking a Tylenol PM each night to facilitate sleep and an Advil each morning and night to prevent soreness.

Recommended book: Seven Summits by Dick Bass. Describes the highest summit on each of the seven continents, including Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.