Things I Learned Climbing Kili


During the 6 hour moonlit summit ascent, I passed the time focused on my steps and reflecting on the many things I had learned on this mountain.   I was overcome with gratitude not just about my experience but so many ways I have been blessed in my life.

Things I learned on Kilimanjaro

 A steady, constant pace is better than going faster and taking longer breaks.  Consistent progress is key, keep moving forward. Longer breaks mean getting cold, losing interest/focus/momentum.

Trust your experienced leaders and their wisdom.

Over-thinking and playing out all worst case scenarios can go beyond ‘preparation’ and become paralyzing and a giant waste of time and energy. You can only control so much and then you have to let it go, trust God, trust yourself, trust others.

Invest in the things that really matter (boots, pack, sleeping bag), go cheap on the rest of the stuff.  And sometimes, your most awesome items are the cheap ones and this feels like a major victory. (My $5 inflatable pillow could have possibly been the best item I brought.)

The world is big, get out and see it, gain a new perspective on how privileged we are with our opportunity and freedom in America.

Grit and determination will take you a very long way.

Putting good nutrition in your body and physical training are game changing decisions everyone can make.

Hakuna Matada. No worries no problems.

Do things that scare you. To succeed at them is exhilarating.  To try and come up short, is still knowing you had the courage to try when many don’t.

There may come a time when you hit ‘your’ summit – the highest/farthest/most you could achieve and that is success because you gave it all you had. Usually the beauty is in the journey and not just the destination.

Every now and then, go pole’ pole’ (slowly, slowly)- stop, look up, take in the view. Recognize how far you have come.  While I was hiking, if I tried to look up and around while I was moving I often got disoriented and would lose my balance. So I learned to stop, look up, look around, breathe deep…. and keep going.  It was a nice variation on ‘stop and smell the roses’.

Be the example for your kids/family/friends – show them you can set crazy goals and achieve them. Show them they can do anything they set their minds to.

Goals are almost never achieved alone. Teamwork and partnership is everything.  3 years ago when I said to Tim – I think we should climb Mt. Kilimanjaro, it took him about 3 seconds to say “I’m in. Let’s do it.” I could not ask for a better partner in life (and in hiking, and everything else!).  Our team of guides and porters meant everything to our success in reaching the summit.

Focusing on what you are grateful for every day, is a great way to turn away from complaining. There is (almost) always a silver lining.

Here’s where it starts to deteriorate just a little…

My less profound lessons from Kili

My hair was not as gross as I expected it would be after not washing it for 7 days and not even brushing it the last 2.  (It got wet in the rain and was beyond salvage)

Camping is awesome until it rains. Then it is wet, cold, muddy and just generally yucky.

A lot can be achieved with a box of wet wipes.  We stayed remarkably clean using these!

One roll of TP is not enough for one woman for one week. I’d say 1.5 is about right.

If you sleep on your side, you can hold out for longer on going out in the freezing cold to the toilet tent, than sleeping on your back.

Sleeping on a slope is  just a bad idea.


One thought on “Things I Learned Climbing Kili

  1. I just love how you have articulated every step of this journey! It is not only the Kilimanjaro journey, but the journey of life that you have experienced during this trip. I’m so proud to call you my daughter! You are amazing, Nicki!


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