My Climbing Cred *Video*

My trek mates kept asking how high I’ve climbed in the past, but I had no idea. So I thought it’d be fun to do a little research on the mountains I’ve climbed over the years. Here’s a short list of my conquests to date, from tallest to smallest:

Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania – 5,895 meters (19,341 ft)

“Poli Poli” is translated as “slowly slowly” — which is how you climb Kilimanjaro, one foot in front of the other, heel-to-toe style. I climbed for 5 days, then attempted the summit on Day 6. You can read all about this little (mis)adventure in the post: Kilimanjaro Nearly Killed Me.

Annapurna Base Camp, Nepal – 4,400 meters (14,435 ft)

Ta Da! Completed with no altitude sickness (except slight headache and nausea, which is normal). We hiked for 12 days, covering about 40 miles (60 kilometers). But unlike Kili (as we folks call it), Annapurna is not a slow straight ascent.

Instead, each day we’d climb one or two mountains, so we may progress only 500 meters higher at the end of the day, but we hiked more than 2,500 meters to get there. Whew – Hard Work!

Inca Trail, Peru – 4,215 meters (13,829 ft)

Like the Himalayas, the Andes were a tough climb. Every day was both up and down, and the trail itself, while limited to “only” 500 trekkers a day, was always crowded with porters and mules. Most of the trek was cobblestone too, which actually made walking really difficult, especially in the rain. And it rained a lot of the time.

The highest point of the Inca Trail is Dead Woman’s Pass (which should tell you something!). At more than +4,200 meters, you are also exposed to altitude sickness. Along the way, you hike through alpine meadows and a cloud forest, and past some pretty fabulous Inca ruins. The Inca Trial is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) long. The trail ends 5 days later at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Pichu at sunrise. Pretty spectacular!

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia – 4,095 meters (13,435 ft)

Kota Kinabalu, located on the island of Borneo, is the highest mountain in Southeast Asia and the first mountain I ever climbed. I did the 2-day climb in one day, just me and my guide and I was about as unprepared as you could be: no bottle of water, no hiking boots, and one tuna sandwich.

You can read all about this totally empowering experience in my post: Mountain Climbing with Ralph Lauren

Volcan Villarrica, Chile – 2,847 meters (9,341 ft)

Volcan Villarrica is the only mountain I’ve climbed with ice crampons and an ice pick. You start the hike from the central Chilean town of Pucon, which is absolutely beautiful. Not only is Volcan Villarrica an active volcano, it’s 1 of only 5 volcanoes in the world with an active lava lake in its crater = cool!

The best part of our climb was the ride down. Instead of walking down the mountain, we climbers made a luge-like tube and slid down the ice. I admit, I didn’t hesitate to join the fun, ice pick over head, barreling down the mountainside as if on a water slide. I’m sure you could hear me screaming (mostly delight, a little fear) most of the way.

I wrote more about this fun in my post: My Top Three Mountains

Mt. Kosciuszko, Australia – 2,228 meters (7,310 ft)

Even though it’s the highest mountain in Australia, Mt. Kosciuszko is a piece of cake….especially when you can ride the chair lift up most of the way…. Still I trudged the more than 2 hours to the top, just to see the fabulous view. You can check it out too!

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin on Kosciuszko

Milford Trek, New Zealand – 1,140 meters (3,740 ft)

Milford, known as “The Finest Walk in the World,” is a favorite in the trekking world. You walk through beautiful tropical rain forest, featuring ferns the size of a van, wetlands and an alpine pass. The trek is 53 kilometers (32 miles) and takes about 4 days. We were lucky during our group climb, with great weather (no rain!), which I guess is a rarity.

Like Annapurna, climbers stay in tea houses along the way (which are much more akin to a ski lodge). The whole experience, with hot showers and drying rooms for your clothes, is pretty swank. The best part is you carry your own gear, which is a lesson in packing light (if not for that climb, than at least for the next one!).

If interested, be sure and read my article: “Milford Trek: 5 Things to Know Before you Hike

Whew – 7 major mountains! Maybe it’s time I gave my knees a break. Then again,  Mt. Fuji at 3,776 meters (12,389 ft) awaits! Let’s see if I get to Japan this summer…

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 25th, 2012 and is filed under Erin Then.

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