Climbing Kilimanjaro Tips and Advice
Climbing mountains like Kilimanjaro is sometimes going to be the hardest thing you have accomplished in your life. And reaching the summit may not always be about what you have to do but may in reality be what you need to give up!!! We are all for not giving up on a mountain. You will always hear our guides encouraging you not to give up on the hike but you are going to have to learn to give up on a few things prior to your climb. Yes there are certain obvious things that need to be done like cardio and strength training but sometimes your success ultimately lies in your strength and will power to give up on some things. Here are a few of the things we believe you would need to GIVE Up on in order to make the summit of Kilimanjaro.
1) Give up on an unhealthy lifestyle
This is probably the most important aspect when training your body and mind for a mountain like Kilimanjaro. A simple concept if you think about it. All you need to worry about is what you eat and physical training. Easy-peasy. And yes it is going to be hard to break the habit in the beginning. Yes the compounded hours of sitting on the couch slugging back the unhealthy food has taken its toll. But you need to break the habit one day at a time. Not doing something is the easiest thing in the world to do. 90% of the world’s population just doesn’t do anything. Take the road less traveled and do it. Or don’t. But that will not get you up the mountain.
2) Give up on your short term mindset
Learn to set long term goals. Climbing Kilimanjaro is a long term goal. Start to put plans in place on how you are going to reach the summit. The long term goal of standing on the summit is a bit like eating an elephant? One piece at a time. You will need to develop a multitude of short term goals that all focus on the bigger picture. There is a massive difference between training to get fit for the mountain and training because that is who you are. You need to express who you are and what you are willing to achieve through your training goals.
3) Give up on small ideas
Allow yourself to dream big. Envision yourself on top of the mountain. There is probably a host of your peers, family and friends that are inspired by what you doing. Climbing a mountain like Kilimanjaro or even the highest mountain in South Africa is a big thing. Embrace it!!! Don’t worry about the small circumstances and criticism that may hold you back from ultimately reaching your dream. There will always be someone who thinks you can’t make the climb. There will always be negative comments and remarks about your ability to summit. That is always going to be a part of the process when you dream big. Focus!!!!! And…don’t be afraid to fail. The biggest lessons on life are the ones that you fail in. Maybe you try a Drakensberg climb as part of your training for Kilimanjaro and it breaks you. Is that failure? No. It is a lesson and draws the line in the sand on where you are physically and mentally. It should fire you up to put in more training than discourage you. Pain is a good teacher if we allow it.
4) Give up your excuses
I know this might sound pretty harsh but it needs to be said. Stop looking for excuses. Mountains are hard and unforgiving places mixed with an incredible feeling of freedom, elation and sense of accomplishment. To climb them and experience this you need to stop looking for excuses for everything.
Learn to be accountable for your thoughts and actions. Learn to give up the warped sense of reality that hinders your ability to achieve. If you can’t give up your excuses, what else will you give up? A summit because it’s too cold and you have a blister? Maybe a training session because you have a small pain in your baby toe? Mountains are all about perseverance and commitment. There are no short cuts to the top. Mountains are places where excuses can be life threatening. Is it going to be hard to let go of those excuses? Of course. You have been hanging on to them for so long they have embedded themselves so deep in your neural pathway that changing them is probably going to harder than climbing Kilimanjaro. But imagine the sense of perspective if you can?
5) Give up on the myth of instant gratification
We are unfortunately living in a world of instant gratification. People want success now. They want wealth now. They want happiness now. Well, the best lesson you may ever learn in life from a mountain is that there is no such concept on these icy deities of nature. Reaching the summit is a laborious process that you need to follow. The climb involves patience while you acclimatize to the thinning air. You need to pace yourself on not only a daily basis but down to an hourly basis. There are various challenges that you need to overcome in order to earn that rite of passage to the summit. There are no short cuts to the top. Day after day unfolds its unknown mystery that you need to endure until ultimately the compounded effects of success and pain unfold on the summit as an explosion of accomplishment and joy.
6) Give up your ego and pride
One of the greatest pieces of advice I ever got on life and mountains was humility. I learnt that the ego and pride have no place on a mountain. I don’t dispute that the ego may be a tool for everyday living but on a mountain, its best to leave it under a rock at the base and fetch it again when you have finished the climb. You will learn that mountains have a way of leveling all human beings no matter what you status in life, what vehicle you drive or how much money you earn. They will break you. Again, I say this from a non-sadistical point of view because sometimes being broken down is the best thing that will ever happen to you. Once you relinquish the ego you will experience a certain feeling of freedom that mountains have an incredible way of enticing. In those brief moments on the mountain, you will be able to find out who you really are-at your core. There is a saying that ‘adversity introduces a man to himself’-that is what climbing is all about. And the lessons and perspective on yourself and life will stay with you forever.
7) Give up your need to control
“Some things are up to us, and some things are not up to us.” — Epictetus, Stoic philosopher
This is a concept is something that a climber has to really wrap his mind around. Mountains are volatile. There is no way of planning or even knowing what they will throw at us. Weather can change suddenly; wind howling at your tent all night, snow that can make your going slow. Things beyond our control! A climber needs to have to have the ability to adapt as conditions change. Accepting what is would be the first mentally challenging task to accept. Once that done, the overcoming process becomes easier. I remember a few years back on Kilimanjaro; I was sharing a tent with a ‘control freak’. He was insistent on eating every 2 hours and had to be the precise mixture of protein and carbs. Well as it is on mountains we were stuck in an unexpected storm and where unable to eat as getting into camp was our main priority. This guy virtually broke down and refused to carry on because he was afraid of losing muscle mass if he didn’t eat. Seriously? The imminent danger of freezing to death didn’t worry him but muscle mass did? A perfect example of when you need to learn to let go. And it is probably best to start adapting this reality before you climb a mountain.
8) Give up saying YES
In this context we are talking about your training goals and preparation for Kilimanjaro. When someone says do want a double rum and coke, instead of saying yes like you previously have done, learn to say no. Keep you long term goal in mind. Will that drink benefit your successful summit attempt? Will saying yes to that greasy Mc-something burger benefit your training goals? Back to that instant gratification concept we were talking about earlier. Learn to say NO. And by that we don’t mean saying No when we tell you it’s time to get going because there is a snow storm coming.
9) Give up on negative self-talk
They say that emotions are slaves to thoughts. Is it critical that you become conscious of your thoughts. Negativity and the corrosive effects of them on a mountain can be the difference between you making the summit and not. Again… Not the easiest thing in the world to do. You are going to have to rewire your brain and replace create new neural pathways that overrule any negative thought patterns. Imagine you are 1 hour from the summit and you sabotage yourself through negative talk and in so doing you don’t make the summit. You are not only going to regret that decision for the rest of your life but it will suck you down deeper into a negative belief about yourself. Train hard before a climb. Constantly subjecting yourself to activities of adversity and overcoming them is a perfect way of breaking the cycle of negativity. As mentioned though……there is no instant gratification. It is something you are going to have to work towards.
One last thing…
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