A few quick facts: we went up the Lemosho route with 7 days on the mountain. If someone should get inspired, Lemosho is beautiful – but we’d recommend adding an extra day and do it as an 8-day trip. It’ll balance the days a bit better, avoiding a 9-10 hour hiking day on day 2.
(On our day 2, we went from Big Tree to Shira II with just a lunch box stop at Shira I. Map from Adventure Alternative website, link to site included in the end notes)
I cannot recommend compression stockings enough. We walked with them all the way – and had absolutely no issues with feet or leg muscles along the way. They probably don’t improve on the walking performance as such – but the reconstitution is so much better.
And do use trekking poles. Estimates reckon that you can transfer 10% of your weight from your legs to your upper body (that doesn’t do much – in stark contrast to your legs) when walking uphill and as much as 25% when walking downhill. On top of giving you some extra support for balance which comes in handy, especially on some of the technical downhill stretches.
I mentioned drinking in my previous post. We both had a 2L hydration system (this one from Source) in the backpack. Hydration systems are better than bottles – the fact that the tube is right there on your shoulder means that you don’t have to stop and fiddle to get something to drink – on the flat parts, at least, you can actually easily drink while you walk. Outcome: you drink more. On top of that, we had 2×1 L extra in Nalgene 1L bottles in the backpack side pockets. The Nalgene bottles are brilliant because they tolerate water that just has been boiled – meaning that our guide crew didn’t have to worry about cooling water (they used either boiling or iodine treatments, depending on what fit best into the schedule, to make sure our stomachs stayed happy). As an additional benefit, Machame from the guide team got us a hot water bottle for the sleeping bag on the coldest nights.
Base layer clothing was merino wool – either Icebreaker or Devold. Both as short sleeve T-shirts and as long sleeve, warmer ones as well as long johns. Merino is perfect – it transports humidity away from the body, keeping you cool in the heat and warmer in the cold. Even when damp, it’s warm – and compared to the synthetic materials (I also have several Nike Body Armor ones), it doesn’t smell of dead gnu after a day or two.
List of the other main gear we had with us:
- Osprey Talon 44 backpack – sat ever so comfortable on my back the whole way. At long stretches I didn’t even feel it, even with 6-8 kg in it. And it stows away trekking poles in a snap.
- LED Lenser H7.2 headlamp. All the light you ever need.
- Warmpeace 600 down-filled sleeping bag. With a silk liner bag, it has a comfort temperature of around -5°C which was fine – a mentioned, we had luxurious access to hot water bottles.
- Boots: Salomon Quest 4D 2 GTX. Read Lifehacker’s comments about them here – I concur, they’re just brilliant. Stayed water proof, lightweight enough not to be a drag, excellent ankle support and a good grip on the rocks.
- Shell jacket and trousers: North Face Pro-shell. The jacket’s wearing out – it has been used heavily over the last 4-5 years, but it still kept me perfectly dry. As to trousers, even if I enjoy walking in mine as they have vents in the thighs and regular pockets you can stuff your hands into, I did envy my wife her Patagonia H2NO ones – they zip up along most of the leg so you can get them on and off with boots on. Nice.
- Trousers: Fjällräven G-1000 – mine as Vidda Pro, my wife’s as zip-off (not quite sure what the model is). The G-1000 material is nicely wind-resistant and also takes a light shower (as long as you keep them waxed). And they last forever.
- Camera: Nikon D5300 with a Nikkor AF-s 18-55mm. I had 3 extra batteries with me – but opting to keep the screen shut off meant that I barely got started on the second battery. I had the camera on a Black Rapid Curve sling – even worn together with the backpack, I had the camera comfortably on my hip insted of knocking into my breastbone and you just slide the camera up to use it. Best sling ever.
- The gear we didn’t carry ourselves were packed in North Face medium size duffels. For added water proofing (you do not want to get your down sleeping bag wet!) we lined them with big plastic bags – not that I actually think it was needed. The duffle is just an excellent bag. The setup specified a max of 15 kg per person – out of respect for the porters. I reckon we probably weighed in around 10 or 12.
Yeah – it’s true what they say: Never go down on gear 😉
(updated with a link to the Kilimanjaro routes and a borrowed map of the Lemosho route)
Photos by me (and a few by my wife). Map via Adventure Alternative