I don’t need a tent. They bring the tent. Some sort of superb four manner that keeps in all the warmth. Other than some snacks and maybe four boxes of Cliff Bars the group I’m traveling with provides the food so I don’t need to worry about that either. The porters carry the tents so that’s another thing I can check off the list. My day pack will do.
But I will need a sleeping bag as well as the clothes on my back and whatever recreational stuff I want–not pot. But the clothes. Yes, the clothes. On my recent trip in the San Jacinto Mountains it got cold. So cold my water blatter froze over during the night. I definitely felt it. I wasn’t prepared. My jacket wasn’t much more than a thin sweater and I didn’t have enough layers–if I could wear wool anything I’d be in heaven. So what am I going to need for Kilimanjaro?
It’s not just a big mountain, it’s a big mountain that starts in one climate zone and ends in another, passing through several others along the way. Think of starting a hike in Joshua Tree and ending it in Antartica. That’s the sort of the contrast I’m expecting. I just looked at this chart showing the weather forecast at various elevations over the next six days. It sort of made me jump out of skin. At 10’000ft the average temperature looks to be about 45 degrees. For my friends in Los Angeles, recall how cold you thought this winter was and then think again about how cold 45 degrees (not that cold if we’re being honest) . At 14’000ft elevation–the height of Mt. Whitney in California–the average temperature is somewhere around 35 degrees. Of course we’re not stopping at Whitney. From 14’000ft we have another 5k plus to go. What’s the temperature like at that elevation? Now we drop into the 20’s and the teens and single digits and below zero.
Besides the low temperature, the weather that high is variable. The mountain makes its own weather so you don’t really know what you’re going to get. We could be hiking over glaciers in a wind and ice storm or we could have clear skies and a nice breeze. Won’t know until we get there.
I’ve lived in cold country twice. Once in Utah, once in St. Louis. I sort of dug the cold. Perhaps I’ve become too acclimated to the California lifestyle because all of a sudden I’m really fucking scared. Maybe it’s time to start revamping my cold weather wardrobe?
© 2013 Christopher Dart