With Mt. Kilimanjaro at the center of the world’s global warming debate, the tallest point in Africa is making headlines. Scientists are predicting the demise of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers as soon as 2020! Whether or not the snows of Kilimanjaro will disappear is not for us to debate–we’ll leave that to Michael Moore and the scientists.
But, what is relevant is a good friend of mine, Andrew Butterworth, will be climbing Kili in February 2010 and has kindly offered to document his adventure here. Not only will he post trip reports and updates, he’ll also be reviewing some of the gear used in the ascent and the trip.
I’m stoked to have Andrew’s contributions and look forward to hearing from his first-hand experience on top of Africa as he goes from desk jockey to the 19,331 ft. summit.
Q&A With “Desk Jockey” Andrew Butterworth
Tell us a little about yourself… where you’re from, what you do for a living, etc.
My name is Andrew Butterworth and I was born and raised in Sydney Australia. For the last 10 years I have been living in Utah and adjusting from beach living to mountain lifestyle. I enjoy the outdoors but by no means consider myself hardcore in any one area. I enjoy road cycling, hiking, skiing, surfing (when I can), and have just started venturing into triathlon.
I work for a technology company that focuses on event management. The company is owned by The Active Network. Some of you might be familiar with Active.com. The best part about my job is the people. I am a social person and enjoy the interactions that I have with my colleagues.
What route are you taking and what guide service are you using?
On February 16th 2010, I will be traveling to Tanzania to climb Mt Kilimanjaro, followed by a safari into the Serengeti. I will be in a group with of 10 others of which I know 1 personally. We will be following the Machame Route and climbing the 19,340 feet in four and half days and descending in one and a half.
We will be using a guide company called Tanzania Journeys. Finding a reputable company is a key factor in hiking Kilimanjaro. There are many that will underpay porters, or not provide them adequate gear for the conditions that you encounter on the mountain which can lead to deaths.
Give me a quick overview of why this is such a big deal for you.
Eleven years ago a friend from Durban South Africa told me of climbing Kili and he wanted me to come climb it with him (I lived in Australia at the time). I thought it was a great idea as I was planning a back packing trip to Europe for several months. I thought I could make a stop in Africa and make my way up to Europe. I had about half the money I would need for the whole trip saved. At about the same time I got an email from a friend in California, and she was trying to convince me to come to the US for a couple of months. To cut a long story short, the powers of the feminine persuasions won out and I am now married with 3 children, and suddenly, Africa seemed very distant.
In August this year, another friend sent me an email about a trip he was putting together. This time, I couldn’t pass it up.
How are you going to go from desk boy to the top of Kili?
The stair master has become my best friend and I am doing about 700 flights of stairs a week. I’m mixing in the odd run with that and some weight lifting. I am going to move into interval cycling training to increase my VO2 max with some swimming.
Odds are that altitude will seriously hamper your climb… many do not make it… how will you make sure you reach the summit?
The best way to prepare for climbing to altitude is to spend time at altitude. With the onset of winter and the snow settling on the mountains it makes it more difficult to spend time hiking in the hills. I am planning a few snow shoeing trips and I will do some skiing but it wont get me anywhere near the altitude simulation I need. I have started exploring the possibility of using an altitude simulator or an altitude chamber.
What are you looking forward to the most?
There are a few things that draw me. One is definitely to be able to say that I climbed the tallest freestanding mountain in the world. I have a sense of adventure and this just seemed like a great adventure. Being able to stand at the top and take in the highest point in Africa and the highest mountain that can be climbed without technical gear is an accomplishment few will be able to put their name to.
Some of the Gear Andrew Will Use
Deuter Futura Zero 40 Backpack
This 2450 cu. in. beauty is built for lightweight backpacking with enough space for quick backcountry jaunts. In this case, it will carry Andrew’s key gear from camp-to-camp. With its lightweight construction and ultra-comfy Aircomfort back system, the load will be carried in maximum comfort. The Deuter Futura Zero 40 retails for a reasonable $130.
Kelty Foraker 0-degree Sleeping Bag
The Foraker 0 is the premiere 3 lb. 7 oz, 4-season bag from Kelty. With 750-fill-power-down insulation and welded construction, the Foraker is light, comfortable and sports excellent water resistance to keep out moisture. In fact, the bottom, hood and foot utilizes Stormstopper waterproof/breathable fabric to keep you comfy even if your feet touch the side of the tent during an all-night rainstorm.
GoLite Roan Plateau 800 Down Jacket
The GoLite Roan Plateau 800 down jacket will be the lightweight walking sleeping bag for Andrew as he wanders around in the high altitudes of Kilimanjaro. I’ve recently been testing this jacket in the single-digit weather we’ve had and I really dig the loft this jacket provides and the super warmth-to-weight ratio.
Buy Now: Visit GoLite.com