Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro at 40

2017 is the year I will celebrate 40 years on this incredible planet. As a woman, this is a particularly fraught year. It comes with so much physical/emotional/societal baggage. I am finding the grey hairs, noticing the early wrinkles, taking longer to recover from extreme physical activity, facing questions about when the kids will come and so on. So I’m starting to shift my mindset to match the reality of starting the second half of my life.

The long path to the top of Kili.

New Age, New Adventures

I refuse to allow these changes and expectations to stop me from taking on new adventures. So when a friend challenged me to climb Kilimanjaro, I fought against my inner that said, “Maybe that’s not a good idea,” and started figuring out how to make it work. Together with a group of 6-10 of my friends from the US and Australia, we’ll be hiking to the roof of Africa on the first week of September 2017. We are a friendly bunch, so let us know if you want to join!

Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji: Sand is very hard to walk up, we are hoping Kili is rockier.

Inspired by Mt. Fuji Trek

A few years ago 9 of us climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan along the Gotemba route (instead of the tourist route). It was a 2-day, overnight adventure culminating at 3,776m. The best moment was walking through the clouds; it was like being transported to an alien world of vapor in motion – mesmerising and surreal.

Mt. Fuji: Jump-shots at low elevations are awesome, but NOT a good idea at high elevations, I nearly passed out!

The Kili Plan of Action

For our Kili trek, we are planning to walk the Lemosho route over 8 days to the Uhuru Peak: 5,895m above sea level. That’s 2,119m higher than Mt. Fuji! Lemosho is longer than some of the other available paths, which will allow us to enjoy the scenery and allow adequate time for our bodies to acclimatize. Apparently the extra days increase your chances of making the summit from 44% to 80%!

Uhuru Peak, Kilimanjaro.

The Summit we are striving for, Uhuru Peak.

Our chosen trek is not a technical climb, so we don’t need advanced skills, we’ll just need the endurance to walk for 4-12 hours per day for 8 days in a row, up slowly and then down very quickly. This time we will be camping, instead of sleeping in huts run by the super-efficient Japanese on Mount Fuji. We’ll each walk with a maximum of  12kg on our backs and everything else will be carried by porters (in our case, three per person). They’ll carry our food, tents, sleeping bags, and a portable loo.

Thankfully there are many well-respected tour operators to get you up safely. We found ours through the not-for-profit we are partnering with, Monochrome International. One of their organisers, Hendry, also runs tours up Kilimanjaro, so we are arranging details with his group: Afrikabisa Adventures & Safaris. We are using YouLi (You Live to Travel, to coordinate all the details. We are literally putting our lives in their hands!


Hendry at the summit.

We can do it!

I recently met a young woman who had climbed Kilimanjaro when she was 18, with no preparation and 1 weeks’ notice. Her headlamp broke on summit night (you hike in the dark for 5 hours!), but she made it up and back down with a smile on her face. I figure that if an 18-year old can do it without a thought, I can do it with the right preparation, even if I do need to bring some tape for my knees…


Porter carrying equipment.

[Kili photo credits: Afrikabisa, Mt. Fuji photo credits: Jennifer Fein]

About the Author: Jennifer Fein is an American Digital Nomad who is on her way to becoming Australian. After many years building one of the earliest global digital marketing platforms in New York, Jennifer led a Strategic Product Management team in the Asia-Pacific region until she realized that the best part of her job was flying all over Asia. She then spent over a year going wherever the travel winds took her, including diving the Andaman Sea, climbing Mt Fuji, on safari in South Africa, and sighting capybara in the wetlands of Argentina. Jennifer is based in Melbourne and now runs a tech startup,  YouLi , which is  a platform for Destination Event Organisers and Travellers to coordinate and gather globally.

Follow Jennifer here:

Instagram: @youlivetotravel



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