Video Killed the ‘Manjaro Star

7.24.2010 | 0 Comments

Ali stumbled across this great video series that gives a day-by-day account of the Lemosho Route – the exact route that we’ll be taking up Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now you can REALLY follow along!

Up, up, and away!


It’s all Good.

7.13.2010 | 2 Comments

Slowly but surely the plans are coming together. Amanda and I sat down last night and started to plan our pre-climb itinerary. We’re going to head to Zanzibar for about 5 days or so, and then trek on off for our trek on up. That should be pretty cool, eh?

After the climb I have a couple of options for my remaining 5 days on African soil. My initial idea was to do a safari, and as much as that’s still on the table, another idea was brought to mind recently. Chris was speaking with me about my trip, and suggested that I look into some volunteer work while I’m there. This had been in the cards when Ali and I were first putting this adventure together, but it fell by the wayside for a variety of pathetic reasons that I no longer can recall.

Chris’ suggestion made me think of El Camino Voluntours, and how excited I am about the prospect of traveling somewhere to help do some good instead of just traveling somewhere and sitting pool-side on my expanding arse while some poorly paid waiter in an ill-fitting white coat serves me a fluffy drink with an umbrella in it.

So, why am I waiting for next year when I can afford to connect with El Camino? Do I need a special reason to make a special trip? I mean, I’m already going somewhere, so why not take advantage of an opportunity there? Makes sense, right?

So, I emailed a couple of people about volunteering over in Tanzania, and hopefully I’ll hear back soon. I’ll let you know.



Mt. Finlayson with the Himalaya Freaks

6.15.2010 | 0 Comments

Yesterday I had an adventure!

I took the ferry over to Victoria to visit with my brother Todd and his lovely girlfriend Becky. As regular readers of this blog will know, Todd and Becky just returned from 6 weeks of hiking through Tibet and Nepal, where they were able to take a 19-day trek to Everest Base Camp. So of course I thought that hiking up a small mountain on the island with the two of them would be a fantastic idea. Either I need to stop drinking so much, or I need to start drinking far more.

I packed a small bag, threw on my hiking boots, draped myself in all things Arcteryx and was promptly whisked off to the ferry terminal (thanks mom!). The really great thing about taking the ferry is the fact that for $13 you can take a (2-hour) cruise that doesn’t assault your sensibilities by forcing you to listen to steel drums for extended periods of time, or watch horrified as Mr. Creosote waddles up to the buffet line for his 4th helping of lard-covered fat sticks. However, I do not recommend taking this delightful mini-cruise if you have an allergy to patchouli, or if you have an allergy to being in ocean-going close confines with unruly children.


Todd and Becky thought it would be fun to go for a hike with me while telling me all about their trip. I completely agreed, and was so very excited to see them both. Although they certainly had some incredible stories to relate, it was their little pearls of travel wisdom that most intrigued me. We talked food, water, altitude, how to tie your boots for ascent vs. descent, and the effective layering of clothing. I must say this, as mature as I am, and as open as I am to learning new things, hearing about the number of times my older brother changed his underwear while trekking in Tibet was really not high on my list of ideal conversation topics*. And do NOT get me started on the Bowel-Movement Rating System…

The hike up Mt. Finlayson is really quite beautiful. Todd and Becky set a decent pace, and I didn’t feel as though I were struggling too much. At one point I started to get frustrated that I wasn’t keeping up with them very well, but I had to remind myself that the two of them had just spent a good deal of time hanging out where pro mountaineers go to challenge themselves. I had to give my ego a bit of a slap, and it helped.

So, after an hour or so of some scrambly, craggy, trail jaunting, we reached the summit of Mt. Finlayson. We were very proud.

Of course, as I was rasping for breath, wondering how internal organs could be on fire, Todd and Becky seemed somewhat less effected…

I like to call this photo, “Meh.”  I mean really, these two just hung out with lamas in Tibet last week. Climbing the mighty Mt. Finny at a whopping 1375 ft (a mere 17,965 ft shorter than Kili), I could understand that they may have been just slightly underwhelmed.

Regardless, the were both incredibly gracious hosts, sharing their stories, imparting their wisdom, giving me potato chips carrots and celery on the drive up, and treating me to  beer and nachos a healthy dinner before taking me to the ferry terminal.

It was a good hike, and a great day in fantastic company. Both Todd and Becky gave me a lot to think about, and I had my eyes opened again to the fact that I need to get out there and get active, right now. I am so not ready to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, and as I wheezed and burned up a hill whose height is 14 times less than that of Kili, that certainly became perfectly clear.

On the upside, I was certainly well educated on the most important items to bring on my climb that will ensure a mentally successful trip: wet wipes, Snickers bars, and apparently a lot less underwear than I thought was necessary.

*note to self: buy Todd some new underwear for Christmas. Also, buy Becky Hazmat gloves for laundry day*


Shut up, Matt!

5.25.2010 | 3 Comments

My friend Matt takes great pleasure in trying to freak me out. Case in point:

I recently posted a wee blog about swimming and math (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say), wherein I attempt to calculate how long I would need to swim in order to replicate the physical exertion I will be expending as I climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Matt responds thus:

Swimming horizontally equals climbing vertically? That is most definitely some odd reasoning, Byn 🙂 More like: 19,340 ft divided by an average building storey at 12ft equals climbing 1612 sets of stairs.
Or going up the Empire State Building’s stairs about 15 times.


His recent response is reminiscent to my first Got Math post regarding the fact that the height of Kilimanjaro is approximately 6kms, to which Matt responded:
Six kilometres straight up?! It’s like doing The Chief 8½ times. Without a break!


I’m trying to fake myself out of how difficult this is going to be, but that pesky bugger keeps trying to bring me back to reality with all his fancy-schmancy math mumbo-jumbo! I mean really, it’s like he’s trying to prepare me or something. Trying to make sure that I know what I’m getting myself into. Trying to show me that it’ll be really, really difficult when all I want to do is trick myself into believing that this is going to be a relative stroll in a warm country. He’s trying to be all caring and friend-like!  What a total jerk.

Write and Wrong

5.21.2010 | 2 Comments

Given that I now have some free time that I could devote to my writing, my step-mother recommended that I see a friend of hers who is a ‘writing coach’.  Now, I don’t really know what a writing coach is, but it sounds interesting nonetheless. Who knows, maybe he’ll be able to give me some ideas on how to forge ahead. Sort of take the reins a bit and steer me in the right direction. Be there to offer support and guidance, and let me know how I can improve. Be some sort of leader, if you will. Some form of instructor who focuses on my abilities… if only there were a word for a person like that.

I met the WC at a coffee shop on Dunbar and we had a nice hour-long chat about life, spirituality, travel and travel writing. I told him about my trip to Kili and, as it turns out, he had actually climbed Kili as a child. I told him about going to Kigali, and he told me that someone in his family works as security for a government figure there. I told him about wanting to go see Zanzibar, and he told me that he had lived there for seven years. You know, I’m thinking that this relationship could really work…

He certainly gave me some things to think about regarding writing, travel and spirituality, and left me with some suggestions on where to go next, and what books to look at picking up in the used book store. I’ll see him again next week, and hopefully I will have completed the ‘homework’ he gave me by then.

I’ll be honest; I’d love to turn this blog into something more, but as I spoke with the WC, I realized that I didn’t know what direction I wanted it to go in. Hell, I didn’t even know what direction I *didn’t* want it to go in. Am I wanting to do Travel Writing? Am I going the direction of Inspiring Others? What about Self-Help? Am I going to write about the Spirituality of Adventure?


Man… this whole ‘think before you write’ thing is complicated!

I’m so confused.


Got It, Got It, Want It, Got It, Want It…

3.04.2010 | 1 Comment


One of the best parts about telling people of my upcoming adventure to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro is the “advice” I get. It doesn’t matter if people have climbed Kili or haven’t climbed Kili – they all want to give me advice.

Now, I appreciate the kindness, really I do, but I find that I seem to hear the same things over and over again. Therefore, I have decided to be proactive: I am going to make a list of all the advice that I’ve been given to date. That way, if you’d like to give me advice, you can check to see if I’ve heard it before. If I *have* heard it before, I’d appreciate it if you gave me advice on something completely different. For example, I could really use some advice on how to make the perfect omelet. I’d also appreciate advice on how to get dog fur out of micro suede. Or really, I’d love some advice on how to fix floor lamps, because the one in my living room decided to stop working and it frustrates me to no end.

And so, here follows the list of advice that I have received (to date) regarding my climbing of Mount Kilimanjaro…

1) Go slow
2) Make sure you take the time to acclimatize properly
3) Go slow
4) Make sure you go slow enough to acclimatize properly
5) Do NOT wear 20 year old Doc Marten boots to climb this mountain
6) Have a good shell (rain jacket)
7) Prepare yourself to be very dirty and dusty, all day, every day
8) Go slow
9) Prepare to go slowly – so slowly that you’ll want to beat your guide with a donkey stick
10) The beer stand at the bottom of the mountain takes Visa
11) Work on your cardio before you go
12) Make sure you’re in shape before you go
13) You don’t need a lot of cardio or to be in good shape to climb this mountain
14) Take it slow. You need to acclimatize properly
15) Drink LOTS of water… and go slowly
16) Go slowly on the way down, too! “Don’t be stupid like I was” (Thanks Sal!)
17) Make sure you have a guide with you
18) Headaches are to be expected, but listen if your body tells you to stop.
19) Don’t push yourself farther than you should
20) GO SLOWLY. Acclimatize properly, and you’ll be just fine.

So… Guess I’ll be going slowly. Which will, you know, give me a good deal of time to mull over the best way to make a perfect omelet.


I need Help

1.09.2010 | 1 Comment

When discussing the idea of climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro with people, I am met with many different reactions. I know that people are supportive, but sometimes it’s funny how that “support” is portrayed. For example, a friend of mine recently decided to point out:

Six kilometres straight up! It’s like doing The Chief 8½ times without a break!

Thanks. I really needed to hear that.

I’m trying to avoid the reality of this situation for as long as possible. Right now I’m thinking that I’ll be needing some good shoes, a few granola bars, some water and a good porter to get myself up this rather large hill. I like it when people keep me somewhat ignorant. It keeps the fear at bay for a little while longer.

Recently I was taking the bus into Vancouver (you know, I’m not even going to comment on the changes to the 601, mkay?), and I was going to walk to the bus loop on the other side of town. My mother asked me if I’d like a drive to the loop, and I thanked her but replied that I would rather walk. “Walk?!”, she says, “All the way there?!”

Considering I am climbing “six kilometers straight up”, a little stroll across town doesn’t seem too daunting.

I like walking. I have two dogs (Jenn and Luna) that I walk quite frequently, so I really don’t mind a few extra steps here and there. That being said, hiking is different. So from here on in, every weekend until I leave I will either hike or *shudder* camp with a variety of friends and training partners. Tomorrow my friend Ali and I head to Lynn Canyon, rain or shine.

I’ll let you know how it goes. However, as for today…. I need to go buy hiking boots.