Post # 1
Darling Husband and I have started TTC for baby #2 (we have a 16 month old) so in the absolute best case I’d have a baby before the end of this year. This past weekend some friends suggested hiking Kilimanjaro in 2020 and I casually agreed without thinking too much about it. However, I know they are pretty serious about tackling Kili and I started thinking about the logistics to see whether it would even be feasible. Some considerations
– If (big BIG if!) I did get pregnant this year, I would be at least 6 months postpartum (wouldn’t consider making the trip earlier than 6 months)
– I am not in the best shape: I was pretty fit before having my first baby, but haven’t exercised since I had her (16 months ago) and while I am actually 15 pounds thinner than I was pre-baby (I’ve had a very stressful ~2 years which took a physical toll) I’m definitely less fit and my current BMI is 18.8. A friend who climbed Kili a few years ago told me the thinner people in his group had a harder time with the temperatures, although I don’t know how true or even relevant that was.
– I have never been much of a hiker. I do have another friend who climbed Kili last summer who claims he did only 2-3 hikes to train before summiting (I say “claims” because I’m not sure I believe him!)
– If we go before the baby is a year old, I’d have to pump to maintain my supply for the period we are gone. I never noticed any physical effects after pumping with my first, but I’m sure pumping on a chair at sea level and then hanging around would be very different from pumping at 1000+ meters above sea level and then continuing a hike! Also, I’d have to carry a pump.
The more I type this out, the more ludicrous this idea even seems, so I might be answering my own question but: hiker mamas, am I completely out of my mind? I guess we could delay until I’m at least a year postpartum so that I’m not still dealing with milk supply issues, but the other concerns still stand.
Post # 2
I have no advice for you (I’m not a hiker), but another question might be what to do with your pumped milk- assuming you’re not dumping it? Friends that hiked Mt K some years ago took 6 days (I think they had a weather delay or ssomething)- so potentially you’d have quite a bit to either store, or dump (clutches pearls). On the other side, you might not still be nursing at 6 mos, so maybe it’s a non issue? By when do you have to decide? Sounds like a fun adventure.
Post # 3
I definitely think it’s doable. I climbed Kili about 4 months after I had mono. The biggest challenge with a mountain like Kili is the altitude (duh!) making people either sick to their stomach or cerebral edema – so most fail to summit due to altitude sickness. I think people really underestimate what effect it can have. I saw so many hikers getting sick or turning back because of the altitude – not because they were necessarily out of shape. So if you have access to any place to do a little training at higher elevations, I’d highly recommend it. And if you can spend more days on Kili acclimatizing, even better. We did it 4 days total, which was pretty aggressive. But my ex was a mountain climber so I didn’t have a choice. LOL. We also made sure to take Diamox to help with the altitude sickness. Another issue, as you’ve said, is the temp at the top hut and and when summiting. You leave for the summit around midnight (it takes about 7-8 hours to the summit – the idea is to arrive at sunrise) so it is bitter cold and windy. But there are some amazing subzero clothing products out there now; I don’t really think body weight is a factor in that regard. Also, if you do the Marangu route, the climb from the top hut (Kibo) to the summit has a very steep section that is a lot of scree rock so it is physically challenging and slow going. You take one step and slide backwards…. It would help to train for that vertical incline as it can kick your butt at that altitude. But it’s an absolutely amazing, magical mountain!
Post # 4
While I love the idea, I think 6 months postpartum will be hard! I don’t think 2-3 hikes will really suffice as practice, you really need to do quite a bit of prep. It’s a respectable sized mountain, and I’ve heard it is fairly strenuous, especially for the uninitiated. Winging it, especially with a postpartum body, is probably not a good idea.
My second concern if you’re pumping and dumping is: that’s a lot of work to be doing at a high altitude, and you will risk dehydration. You’ll need to have extra water supplies, extra food supplies, extra time to pump, and some extra time to rest. That will significantly impact the planning and logistics of your trip, and if you were getting a guide, they may not be able to accommodate your needs.
Post # 5
- Wedding: March 2017 - Nepal
wahwahwah : This is an awesome goal! The altitude will likely be your biggest challenge. It doesn’t matter how fit you are, everyone’s body responds differently regardless of fitness level. Do you have experience hiking at higher altitudes? If not, it may be a good idea to get some hikes at altitude in before conceiving to see how you do. I think summiting 14ers (depending on where you are located) can help give you an idea of how susceptible you are to Acute Mountain Sickness. As PP mentioned, Diamox can be very helpful and your primary care doctor can prescribe this before you go. Also bear in mind that the Kili hike takes roughly 9-10 days not including rountrip travel to KLM.
Post # 6
cclarkrun1 : techmom : Yeah, after more thought, attempting this while I am still trying to maintain a milk supply would be just silly. I’d definitely be dumping (😢) but carrying the pumping gear, making time to pump regularly, staying hydrated and rested… this was enough of a logistical nightmare in my daily routine let alone halfway up a mountain! Definitely waiting till I have weaned completely.
mkendrick : Honestly… everything you said made me more terrified! 😬
Schmashley : Not hiking but I spent a couple weeks in Tibet a few years ago – we drove around the country (including driving to and spending a night at Everest base camp). I had ups and downs with altitude sickness – I did have to take medication and had one episode a few days after arriving when we spent a night in a town at very high altitude. But I was also a smoker at that time (and definitely smoked during the trip), as well as pretty unfit, so those may also have been factors.
I don’t have a real deadline to decide if we are doing this but I know the other couple is serious about going and if we want to go with them, we need to figure out and communicate our parameters soon. All of this hinges on when I get pregnant, so I guess I will focus on that first…
Post # 7
wahwahwah : My co-worker did it about 2 years ago and loved it. She trained for 6 months, did a few 14-ers in Colorado, and hiked locally every chance she got. I believe she did the 8 day trip to the summit. And she said it was HARD. The altitude made her queasy and she had the worst headache. Based on the logistics you mentioned, it might be better to wait till 2021 so you have time to recover from baby #2 (good luck, BTW), focus on your health, train, etc.
But the biggest question is: Do YOU want to climb Kilimanjaro? And why? You didn’t mention why this appeals to you, just that you agreed to go on this adventure. If this is a bucket-list item and you really really really want to do it, I think it’s doable with some serious planning.
Post # 8
My sister climbed it and got cerebral edema… started hallucinating, etc. Your brain starts swelling and you need to descend quickly to avoid serious serious issues! That’s not a usual experience obviously, but point being, it’s a hardcore mountain, especially given the extreme altitude.
I’m 5 months postpartum right now and wouldn’t even consider something like that for at least another 6 months. And I’m signed up to run a half marathon in July, so I’m not a total slouch or anything. The combination of not being in very good shape, and the altitude, would just make this a completely miserable experience IMO!
Post # 9
Miss-Mauverick : But the biggest question is: Do YOU want to climb Kilimanjaro? And why?
Fair question! I think I do, although it falls more into the “proving I can do it” bucket than the “I’ve always wanted to do it” bucket. I guess I can also spend the next few months figuring out whether I truly want this experience or just want the bragging rights 😛