Was it a good idea to wire money to Cyprus?
How about to a guy I’d only been in contact with over the Internet?
That was just one of the questions that rattled my nerves while planning my Kilimanjaro climb last spring. It’s one thing to book a hotel room in the United States online, but it’s something completely different to trust someone overseas with a few thousand dollars and my safety.
I didn’t have many options when it came to booking the trip, though. I didn’t have anybody to consult, so I had to rely on my research and instincts.
Ultimately, things worked out perfectly. Better than that, actually. My expectations were completely surpassed in every aspect of a trip that hinged completely on trust.
Since returning to Kansas City and writing about the adventure, I’ve received about a half-dozen inquiries from people seeking my input as they plan their own Kilimanjaro excursions. Most of those likely will happen sometime during the next year, but tonight was my first sit-down information session.
I’m hardly an expert, but it was a welcome opportunity to share some advice and knowledge I gained first-hand. Preparing for the meeting got my adrenaline pumping just like it did when I was researching my trip.
This meeting was particularly special to me because it was with Neal and Chris, two guys I used to report on when they were high school athletes. Now they’re both a year out of college, but we’ve stayed in contact during the past few years. They’ve gone on numerous outdoor adventures together, but this will be their biggest yet.
I could tell they are a bit anxious about their planning, and that’s a good thing. They had lots of questions — the same ones I was asking not too long ago. My hope is that based on my experience I was able to offer useful advice and guidance that will help them have just as memorable of a trip as I did.
We talked about which route to take (Don’t do Marangu. Look at a longer one that will offer a better success rate such as Rongai). We talked about cost of the climb, flights, tipping, vaccinations, visas, gear … a little bit of everything. We talked about preparing for altitude and the benefits of Diamox.
Eventually the conversation drifted to making it to the summit. What will it take? How will the body react? They don’t want to go all the way to Tanzania, spend all that money, spend all this time preparing and then not get to the top.
Ultimately, that’s the greatest unknown on a trip loaded with unknowns. Trust is involved every step of the way. You have to trust your guide, your porters, your cook, your drivers, yourself. That’s something they’re beginning to figure out, but they won’t fully understand it until they’ve been on the mountain. I’m sure it’s a topic I’ll discuss with them again before they depart — probably when it comes time for them to wire about two grand to some stranger in Cyprus.