Roberta Perry is a four-time Zephyr alumnus from New York. From my experience traveling with her, I would say she is a good athlete with a strong constitution who, like many people, tries hard to stay in shape as she cruises through her 40s. In short, I think she is a pretty typical Zephyr traveler.
This past July, Roberta and her two siblings joined another group of six travelers and summitted Mount Kilimanjaro. They took the same Lemosho Route that our Zephyr group will take in late January. However, her group went up what is known as “The Breach”, the most technical aspect of any of the routes. We will skip that by walking a bit farther around this area. Roberta was kind enough to answer a few questions about her climb:
What made you plan a trip to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro? My brother suggested the trip for his 50th birthday. He saw the movie “To the Roof of Africa” and was totally hooked. He knew all he had to do was ask and we were there. Reaching the summit was spectacular. Doing it with my siblings, unbelievable!
Were you nervous about your ability to reach the summit? To be honest, not really. Having skated with Zephyr on the Mineral Belt trail, at 11,000+ feet, I knew I was going to acclimatize fairly easily. Having the extra days and the slower pace made it so much better, too. Most of our group took diamox to help any altitude issues.
Did you train in advance? I did some training beforehand, but nothing like what doing a similar type of hike could have prepared me for. Stair climbing was my best training. There was not a staircase I wouldn’t climb in the few months prior. Also, I walked an average of 2-3 miles a day, every day (thank my dog for that). I skated as much as possible the 2 months prior for stamina. There are many regimens out there, but I found doing what I liked to do made it easier to do it more often.
Was the trip harder or easier than you expected? It was harder than I expected during the rock scrambles and the Lava Tower climb, which I totally recommend as great practice for the Breach. There were a few moments of “what did we just do?” on the Breach, worn with an expression of incredulousness, however, the majority of the climb was what I anticipated or easier. I believe it’s all about the stamina, the acclimatizing, the one foot in front of the other mentality and the “pole pole”(swahili for slow) pace the guides make sure you stay at. It’s about the will to make it to the top.
What was the highlight of the climb? The staff, the laughter, the camaraderie. The fact that all 9 of us made it to the summit. The fact that I got to indeed see, touch and taste “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
Anything else you want to share with potential Zephyr travelers interested in climbing Kili? The people of Tanzania are some of the hardest working, nicest people around. Hakuna Matata is a real expression and the townspeople use it all the time. It was harder coming down than up, because you are moving at a faster pace, and your legs/knees are not as used to that type of down climbing. The climb was cold, dirty, smelly, difficult, and exhausting. It was also amazing, exhilarating, brilliant, educational and fantastic. I would not have changed a moment! The experts say that by 2020 there won’t be snow left at the peak. I suggest to everyone who wants to see the snow for yourself, do this trip soon! There is no doubt you will love the trip and the experience!!
Allan’s note: I have struggled in the past few weeks when asked by some of our Zephyr travelers how they would do on Kilimanjaro and think Robert’s viewpoint is an excellent addition to my own. My favorite part of her answer is “It’s about the will to make it to the top.”
If you have any questions for Roberta, post them here on this blog and I am sure she would love to answer them. We’d love to have you join us in Tanzania come January!