Social Climber: This ain’t no walk in the park

06 - Group HikingToday marks the sixth week of training for the #Climb4Cord and I’m already down 10 lbs. Weeks ago, I was scared for the weekend and the impending hikes. Now, I can’t wait for the weekend and the chance to get up at the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning and hit the trails. It doesn’t hurt that I have awesome support from friends and family each week.

Sunday’s support on the trails came by way of Rachel and her son Matthew and Andrew.

I’ve known Rachel since May 2010 when I met her at the SportsConnectTO conference where I was speaking on a panel. I also briefly ran into Rachel last July during the Five Hole for Food event at Dundas Square. But normally, we engage on Twitter on a regular basis where we seem to run in the same circles.

Andrew and I met in late 2011 when he was looking to break into the sports industry and I was still working for the Canadian Football League. We had a wonderful initial chat and have kept in touch as he’s gone on to land himself a great full time job.

Our group met at the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and headed south towards the Don Valley Brickworks through the Moore Park Ravine. The trail was a little slick, but it was nice to see some of the thick layers of ice start to melt in the beautiful warm weather.

06 - Hiking Map

Just south of the Brickworks, we headed west across Mt. Pleasant road and into David A. Balfour Park. We were treated to a beautiful slush packed trail surrounded by a large creek and tall trees. It was the perfect spring day to be out on a hike – I was even able to take off my jacket, it was so nice outside.

We ran into a bit of trouble making our way north through the park. The trail seemed to come to an end and we were forced to double back and out onto St. Clair Avenue. We proceeded up Yonge St. and as we approached Yorkminster Park Baptist Church the bells started to chime.

As we passed the church, The Honourable David C. Onley, Ontario’s 28th Lieutenant Governor, crossed in front of us on his way into the service.

06 - KingOnce we passed the church we were able to duck back into the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery and continue along our route. After seeing the Lieutenant Governor, we started to chat some politics and that led to a discussion about where former Prime Minster William Lyon Mackenzie King was buried. Turns out, it was along our route right in the heart of midtown Toronto.

We wrapped up our hike back where we started – Rachel pushing the group on to ensure we completed more than 10km. Matthew, of course, was still full of energy and ready to do another 10km!

I also need to give a shout out to the Orange Boot Camp team from ING DIRECT for getting everyone fired up on Friday with a wicked “Spartacus Workout” routine. Thanks to Buket, Emilie, Erik, Jessica, Rashel, and Samita for the support and putting together a great team to train together during the lunch hour.

KILIMANJARO – NOT QUITE A WALK IN THE PARK

Following a conversation with my colleague Amanda this past week, I thought it was time to clear up any misconceptions that the climb up Mt. Kilimanjaro was simply a walk in the park.

06 - Amanda Tweet

Here are some frequently asked questions I have received over the past month or so as I prepare for the #Climb4Cord:

Q: Where is Mt. Kilimanjaro?
A: It is located in Tanzania in Eastern Africa, only three degrees below the equator. It is the tallest mountain in Africa and also the highest free-standing mountain in the world at 19,341 feet above sea level.

Q: How long is the climb?
A: We are climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro via the Lemosho Route, which means it will take us seven days to reach the top of the mountain. It will take us another two days to return to its base, for a total of nine days of hiking.

Q: How many hours per day will you spend hiking?
A: We will hike for an average of seven hours per day and cover a distance of about 7km each day. We expect to climb approximately 3,300 ft. on the ascent each day.

Q: Where do you sleep?
A: We will sleep in tents each night.

Q: How do you carry all of your stuff?
A: We will have a team of porters carrying our main bags – that includes clothes and other gear up to 30 lbs. in weight. We will each carry a day pack that contains clothing, food, meds, camera gear and anything else that we want to have easily accessible.

Q: What’s the weather like on Kilimanjaro?
A: It varies. It can be warm at the bottom of the mountain, registering over 30 degrees Celsius. It can be wet at the mid levels when we are hiking in the rain forest. And it can be extremely cold and windy near the summit, dipping into the negative double digits Celsius (like -17 cold). We are climbing in August, which happens to be the coldest time of year on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Q: Is Kilimanjaro a hard mountain to climb?
A: We are not facing a technical climb like you would if you were to climb Mt. Everest. Many resources equate climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to a tough mountain hike – at least for the first 14,000 ft. The difficult part is the final ascent where the altitude will become a challenge for all climbers.

Q: Is this a dangerous hike?
A: The biggest danger is the altitude. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) impacts each person differently and can force climbers to have to descend before reaching the top of the mountain. It is quite serious and could prove fatal if it isn’t addressed properly. High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can also be a concern on the mountain. Other issues to worry about while travelling to this part of the world include Malaria, Yellow Fever and traveller’s diarrhea.

Q: How do you prepare your food and/or eat on the mountain?
A: Our meals will be prepared by a chef who is employed by the climbing company that we have hired for the climb. We are also advised to carry snacks that we enjoy, because eating at high altitude becomes difficult, so it is best to carry some snacks that you like.

Q: What about water?
A: Our drinking water is purified with chlorine at our daily camp. It has been suggested that we bring along Gatorade powder (or similar) to help add some flavour to the water because it can be hard to drink the required amount of water at high altitudes. A minimum of 4L of water per day is recommended.

Q: Where do you go to the bathroom?
A: You must dig a hole on the trail if you need to go to the washroom. To protect the environment, used toilet paper must be stored in a Ziploc bag until it can be disposed of properly.

Q: Does everyone make it to the top of the mountain?
A: According to Wikipedia: “The Kilimanjaro National Park shows that only 41% of trekkers actually reach the Uhuru summit with the majority turning around at Gilman’s Point, 300 metres (980 feet) short of Uhuru, or Stella Point, 200 (660 feet) meters short of Uhuru. Kilimanjaro is often underestimated because it can be walked and is not a technical climb. However, many mountaineers consider Kilimanjaro very physically demanding.”

That’s a wrap for this week. Don’t forget that you can still sign up to join me for a hike even if someone has already put their name down for that week. The more the merrier. This Sunday, me and a group of colleagues from ING DIRECT are off to the York Regional Forest near Stouffville. This will mark the first #KiliHikeTO outside the City of Toronto. I’m looking forward to it.

The #Climb4Cord features a group of business leaders who will be climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in August 2013 with the hopes of raising $750,000 for the campaign For All Canadians, which is dedicated to building Canada’s new national public cord blood bank. Click here to donate to my personal page or for more information on the campaign please visit: http://campaignforcanadians.ca/

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About Jaime Stein

Jaime is the Senior Manager, Social Media at Hootsuite. He is a digital marketer with expertise in social media and content marketing. His experience stems from leading the social media strategy for two national brands. Jaime holds an MBA with a focus in Marketing and Strategy from the Rotman School of Management where he was selected valedictorian by the students of the Morning MBA Class of 2011. He is the former radio voice of the Toronto Argonauts and currently lives in Vancouver with his wife and two sons.
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