Top Tips for Kilimanjaro, with Stu Shipp

Stu Shipp – Mountaineer

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      Name: Stuart Shipp
      Age: 40
      Experience (yrs): 22
      Favourite Mountain: Tryfan in Snowdonia
      Favourite food for returning from altitude: Pizza
      Greatest achievement: Establishing a mountaineering business (City Mountaineering) from scratch

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      Stu is an experienced Mountaineer, leading trips to mountains such as Kilimanjaro, Elbrus, many Himalayan Peaks and more. Many of our team here at The Altitude Centre have climbed with Stu, and many of our clients too.

      We wanted to give you some top tips from a Guide’s perspective, so check it out!

      Question & Answer: Kilimanjaro

      The Altitude Centre: What is it about climbing mountains that you enjoy so much? Is it just being outdoors? The sense of achievement?

      Stu Shipp: The mountain environment offers so much. It could be the physical or mental challenge, or simply the peace and tranquility that being outdoors in a remote environment brings. For me, it is the sense of wellbeing and isolation from an otherwise busy world that keeps drawing me back.

      TAC: We couldn’t agree more! For someone that hasn’t climbed mountains before, is summiting Kilimanjaro something that is attainable?

      SS: Absolutely! However, you must respect Kilimanjaro, as with any other mountain. Yes, lots of people climb it, but that should not detract from the fact that it is the highest mountain in Africa!
      Anyone can summit the mountain, but how much they enjoy the experience is very much down to the training effort that is put in during the months of preparation before even setting foot in Africa.

      TAC: If you can give just one piece of advice.. what would be your top tip for someone in training for Kilimanjaro?

      SS: The Altitude Centre offers a great opportunity for people, with busy lives in the city (or using their rental kits), to prepare their bodies for a low oxygen environment, which is vitally important when it comes to Kilimanjaro. However, it is very important to use this facility in conjunction with getting outside and hiking up hills.

      Whether it’s getting in to Snowdonia or The Lake District, or simply hiking up and down Hampstead Heath. There is no short-cut for climbing mountains. To improve hill/mountain fitness, you must hike up and down hills/mountains. (get in touch with us for our 16-week Kilimanjaro Programme if you want to hit some tips on hitting the hills!)

      TAC: Kilimanjaro is on the horizon. You are packing your bags. What would be the 3 most important items to carry in your day pack on any mountain, but in particular Kilimanjaro?

      SS: Water is without doubt the number 1 thing to have in your bag. In order to aid acclimatization (as well as the increased rate of dehydration at higher altitudes), we should be drinking lots of water!

      Sun cream should also be handy at all times. The risk of sunburn increases with altitude so it’s very important to keep topping up the protection

      There are other important items, but I’m going to put a camera at number 3. You are, after all, on holiday! Get those photos! Kilimanjaro and its various habitation zones is so photogenic, I encourage people to take the time and enjoy their surroundings as often as possible! The fitter you are, and the better acclimatised, the easier it is to do that!

      TAC: We often hear from people that they forgot this, and they forgot that, but if you could remind them about just one item that you would recommend for the trip, what would it be?

      SS: Water bottles! – sounds bizarre, but lots of people forget this extremely important piece of kit. Even if you decide to use a water bladder (which may freeze on summit night), you must also have a bottle as backup.

      TAC: Hydration is so important, so we’re with you on that one! What is your favourite part of the Kilimanjaro trips that you lead?

      SS: To see people grow in confidence as the week goes on as they learn how their bodies react to the varying altitudes and, ultimately, the happiness and sense of achievement when they reach that summit! – It’s why I do what I do – To help people achieve things that they never thought would have been possible.

      TAC: Clients often weigh up the cost-benefit of getting the right boots, coat, sleeping bag, and what they can try to save a little more money on. What is the most important piece of kit to get right for Kili?

      SS: A good pair of well-fitted boots is essential. We walk for 7-days in a row so we need to take care of our feet. It’s important to buy the boots well before the hike and wear them on as many training hikes as possible so your feet get used to the boots and the boots start to change to the shape of your feet.

      TAC: For those out there debating as to whether or not Kilimanjaro is for them, what would you say?

      SS: Just do it! It will be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life. You will always regret the things you don’t do more than the things you did. Time is finite, so make the most of life and jump in to adventure with both feet (don’t get too carried away though, we will be hiking very slowly!).

      So there we have it…

      Stu’s top tips for climbing Kilimanjaro.

      If you’re interested in how The Altitude Centre can help you prepare for any other trips you have planned, just give us a call, or drop us an email!

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