Training for Killimanjaro on Scottish Hills

Over the last two weekends, over five days, I have been out with a family to help them prepare for a trek up Kilimanjaro in October.

Visiting the Angus hills the first weekend and and then the Strathfarrar, Affric and Mullardoch hills the second we steadily built up the distances and time on the hill to ready them for the seven day trek in Africa.

So what does hiking Killimamjaro entail how well can Hillwalking in Scotland prepare you for it? Kilimanjaro in Tanzania is the highest mountain in Africa (5,895m). An ascent is typically done over 5-7 days and hikers need to content with, cold temperatures, fatigue, long days (particularly in the day you summit) and, of course, the affects of high altitude.

Our goal over the two weekends was to test out clothing and equipment (new boots, waterproofs, gloves and walking poles etc), get accustomed to the physical challenge of hillwalking on consecutive days, practice walking at a slow and steady pace and lastly and most importantly, build up the mental resilience needed to ascend such a big mountain.

Our first weekend started with an ascent of Mayar and Driesh via Corrie Fee on a wet, cold and windy day. To follow we hiked up Glas Maol and Creag Leacach from Glen Isla. These gently rolling Angus hills offered really good terrain for our first weekend.

Our base for the weekend was Ecocamp Glenshee, with a range of comfortable huts and cabins to stay in.

The following weekend we headed to Cannich, west of Drumnadrochit, to get easy access to three big Glens with huge amounts of hillwalking options: Strathfarrar, Mullardoch and Affric. Over the course of three days we did 22 hours on the hill, 2,700m ascent and 37km. We weren’t too concerned about going fast and doing lots of summits; more important was to walk at a steady, consistent pace and finish the weekend feeling confident and injury free. We managed to climb Sgurr Fhuar-thuill in Strathfarrar, Creag Dubh in the Mullardoch hills and Tom a’Choinnich and Toll Creagach in Affric.

Our base in Cannich was Cannich Caravan and Camping Park. With its cafe, camping pods and nearby pub – The Slaters Arms – its an excellent place to stay when exploring these glens.

Accompanying us on the hill was Pip, the family’s Jack Russell. With loads of character and energy Pip kept us smiling.

We enjoyed some lovely autumnal colours and light. We came across this lovely aspen tree on our hike up Creag Dubh with its leaves turning yellow. We also saw some juniper high on the mountain and the beautiful autumnal red leaves of blaeberry.

As our fifth day of hiking drew to an end confidence was high and everyone was feeling positive about the challenge ahead.

If your interested in a bespoke hillwalking guiding please get in touch. We can recommend areas and routes that suite your group and goals.

Update …… three weeks later, in mid October 2017 my clients reached the summit of Killimanjaro, the world’s largest free-standing mountain. Amazing!


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