Just how fit does one need to be to take on those “Bucket List” expeditions, like climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro? Along with two friends, Lynn Barrie, a 57-year-old Sarasota, Florida-based woman recently did the trip.
When we spoke to her, she said that in order to do such a trip, you have to be “off-the-charts fit”. How fit is that?
In general, Lynn has been athletic her whole life. She rowed crew for a number of years, runs 20 miles a week, rides daily, and competes in half marathons.
Is that enough to take on the journey, which for her was six days to ascend and two days to descend? Not quite. Here, Lynn fills FarewellTravels (FT) in on what she did to prepare for the trip and whether it worked or not.
FT: How far in advance did you start physically training?
Lynn: We started training six months before. Maybe a little less would be okay, but we wanted to be on top of our game.
FT: What did your training consist of?
Lynn: Weights, stair machine in our hiking boots with 20-pound weights in our backpacks (very important), running and spinning classes. Also, as we built up to it, 10-mile hikes in boots and 30 pounds in our backpack on any inclines we could find (hard in flat Florida!)
FT: Did you have any guidance on how to train?
Lynn: Through our travel agency we were given masses of information regarding fitness and equipment. Also the last 3 months, I worked with a private trainer for core strengthening.
FT: How did you feel once you started the climb? Were you pleased with the training you had done or were you telling yourself you should have done more?
Lynn: We were confident that we were at the top of our fitness level. Our guides were impressed with us too.
FT: What was the biggest physical challenge?
Lynn: Summit night was a huge challenge. You start at 10pm from 15,500 feet after climbing for 5 days and go through the night to get to the top 19,453 feet in extreme conditions fighting altitude and then you have to get down below 10,000 feet to get out of altitude! We didn’t sleep for 24 hours.
FT: What was the biggest mental challenge?
Lynn: Staying focused, handling the altitude. You have to push yourself mentally and physically beyond anything you have ever done before and can’t let up even for a minute.
FT: What was the most rewarding aspect of the trip?
Lynn: First the physical challenge, knowing you have pushed yourself beyond normal human endurance and second, getting close to our Masai guides. And standing on the highest peak in Africa wasn’t bad either.
FT: All said and done, would you do it again?
Lynn: It was the best experience of my life but I think summiting Mount Kilimanjaro once is enough. I am on to my next adventure!
FT: Would you encourage someone else to do it?
Lynn: I would tell anyone who has an inkling to do this GO FOR IT! As hard as it was, I loved every minute of it, a highlight of my life.
FT: Anything else you want to share with our readers, Lynn?
Lynn: I am proud to say I was 57 when I did this. I say to anyone, follow your dream and only you can make it happen. If can do it, you can do it!