Update from Mike – Please Read

Hi all!
Just a quick note before I head off on my almost 800km ice walk in Siberia (I do these things for fun apparently) I would like to just make contact with everyone to update where Kilimanjaro Achievers is at and to maybe answer some of the questions that you have and that I have had to learn about for myself.

On a personal level I never met or knew Ian but we had lots of mutual friends and were both aware of each other’s exploits. I have certainly learnt that while small in stature he was one of life’s giants and certainly reached out to everybody that he met and as I learn on a daily basis even reached out to the ones he hadn’t met. KA was a fantastic idea and Ian developed this with an amazing inclusiveness for all involved and to assist everyone in reaching personal goals and milestones and I hope that we can maintain that.

Another amazing thing about Ian was that he was pretty much the single driving force behind Kilimanjaro Achievers and implemented all aspects of the training, climbing etc and following on from his untimely passing many of his close friends and people who have climbed in the past have come together to ensure that his legacy lives on. I have observed and listened to many people saying that Ian would have liked for the Kilimanjaro Achievers to continue, I feel he would have demanded that the Kilimanjaro Achievers continued and improved on all of his hard work.
With that in mind and following discussion with a great number of people I committed to not attempt to step into Ian’s shoes but to walk along beside them and continue his journey in ensuring that each and every one of you reach a goal, a milestone in the coming year. I also committed to attempt to fundraise in conjunction with the board of Kilimanjaro Achievers to build a school in Tanzania that will have Ian’s name over the door long into the future. The other commitment we have made it to hold a memorial walk in August this walk is to remember Ian but also others that have been to the mountain with Ian and are no longer with us.
While I am off on my Ice Adventure any queries can be directed to suzanne@kilimanjaroachievers.com and she will co-ordinate the bookings and distribute queries you may have to the various persons.

African perception
I feel that people must also adopt an attitude that while we are in Africa it is a very different place to Ireland. Peoples circumstances vary greatly and our expectations and perceptions of how things are done are certainly very different. While we attempt to make the trip as comfortable as possible it is important to remember that we are in a developing country and not everything is like it is at home.

My own involvement in travelling to remote locations and spending the last 30 years involved in the rescue services in Ireland both as a team member and as a trainer for many of the organisations my philosophy when travelling to these remote locations is to be as self sufficient as possible. To this end I am providing training to our African Team on casualty care, casualty management and evacuation of a casualty from the mountain. We shall be also bringing additional equipment with us that other teams do not carry.
1 Satellite phone with email capability and rescue alarm
2 Yellow brick live tracker with rescue alarm
3 Titanium Stretcher with transporting wheel
4 Additional oxygen
5 Medical kits with pain management
6 Walkie Talkies
In addition to this all climbers shall receive a briefing on their roles in the event of an incident and we have developed a basic rescue plan that shall be updated following my first visit to the mountain this season.

For all barr one of the climbs this year we are swapping to the Machame route. While I appreciate this is a different route than was discussed with many of you, following feedback from a number of groups it was felt that people would prefer to be on a different route. The difference between the success rate between the two routes are negligible if you follow the information that we shall provide to you during your training and following on from your blood analysis. Reading success rates on the internet is misleading in that many people put in very little preparation to a clime and do none of the additional practice climbs that KA insist on.

For the year ahead we have had to rebook flights and this is one of the most important areas where money can be saved. The flights that we have locked into; the price is fixed. But any additional flights that we have to book outside of these can vary greatly in price so it is imperative that if you want to avail of the flights we have booked that you get your deposit in ASAP. For example one of the flights we have looked at the difference in August is €800.00 between the price we have from Ethiopian Airlines and the KLM Airline.

African Experience
I have renamed this because it really is an African Experience in that you get to do a safari, visit a Massai Tribe , go shopping at a local market and days permitting a visit to the local school. While this is an extra I personally feel that after travelling all the way to Africa if you miss out on this you really haven’t experienced Africa

One thing I am going to say about training is everyone on a climb like this while doing the climb wishes they had trained more at home before they came out. If you are going on this climb this year it has to become almost your sole focus in life every day you have to do something that will bring you closer to the goal!
Kilimanjaro is almost always underestimated by people and that is why the internet stats that are quoted show such a high failure rate. Both you and I do not want to become part of that statistic so its important that you train and when you think you have done enough training you need to think about how you are going to increase that by another 25-50%! But don’t worry, we are here to help you all the way!

Fitness assessment
We are not here to pass judgement on your fitness level and previous training but we are here to give you a snap shot of where you are at this moment in your life and to inform you of what you need to do to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro! The fitness assessments shall be coordinated by Gordon Ward and following the assessment we shall provide you with a recommended training programme that will ensure you reach the summit.

Training programmes –
We have developed 3 training programmes and you shall be recommended to follow one of these programmes as best you can. If you do other sports or activities you can substitute these for some our training.

Training climbs
We will be hosting a number of training climbs throughout the summer – details of these will be out to you soon with dates , cost etc. We will also providing the names of a number of guides that you can hire independently should you wish to do further climbs ,these guides are being paid a fee for the day and you can deal with them directly
Altitude training equipment – there are a number of venues and products around the country that can assist with acclimatising. There are two centres in Limerick on at UL and the other is called DELTA, there may be others but I am unaware of them at present. In addition to that there are a number of products that you can use that simulate altitude and assist with your adjustment , some are for individuals and others can be set up for up to 4 people. While these products have a cost when you weigh them up with the price of the trip and certainly if you have been at altitude before and have had difficulties they are great value. We have secured a 10% reduction from http://www.acclimatiseme.com and if you watch in the coming while we shall put a link and code on the website if people wish to avail of the offer. Your dealings with Chris are direct and we have no involvement in the product.

The first bloods you should do once you have booked onto the trip , if you are an individual you can get the forms from us to give to your Doctor and just make your arrangements with your personal GP. If you are travelling as a group you may be able to negotiate a better price with a doctor but that you need to organise yourself. Following on from us receiving your bloods Dr Padraig Sheeran and Dr Ellie OLeary shall assess them and provide individual feedback to each person travelling with us, this feedback shall include recommendations in relation to supplements, vitamins etc.
One month before we travel you shall be required to do another set of bloods so we can assess your improved levels and make final recommendations in the month leading up to the climb.

Buddy system
We shall continue this and it is something that I have used for a long time in our training programmes. We shall either buddy people during our training time or once we get to Africa and it is an important part of the experience where you both assist each other and look after each others well being for the duration of the trip.

We shall forward a complete list of clothing to each individual and group and your equipment HAS to be inspected on one of the training weekends in case it is unsuitable for the trip. It is important to note that you do not have to buy the equipment from us or from anyone if you can borrow the suitable items but if you arrive in Africa without the correct equipment you shall be forced to either purchase or hire suitable equipment for the mountain. We have an arrangement in place with at an excellent discount for certain items of Craghoppers , Regatta and Dare2b and with this list you can select either all of the items or whatever you require.

Communications (on the mountain)
There is mobile coverage on the mountain but it is relatively sketchy and expensive. Another option is that people can purchase an African phone and credit, and then you can text home relatively cheaply. These local phones are approx $35.00 and $20-30 credit should be sufficient for 3 – 4 people. If people wish to avail of these we need to know one month before your trip.
We shall also be carrying the yellow brick tracker which will put updates on our position on the mountain several times a day on the facebook page. And I will also carry my satellite phone in the event of an emergency or the need for communications with home.

For the upcoming trips we are insisting that everyone takes out the insurance policy being provided by 747 Travel as it has come to my attention that some people that claimed they had policies actually travelled to Africa last year and had none. If for any reason there is a problem with the trip etc it is imperative that everyone has an adequate insurance policy.

Group Liaison
Due to the number of people involved in many of the groups it is difficult to answer questions from everyone with all the additional work that is required in planning these trips. While we will answer everyone questions we would appreciate if each group could have a dedicated group liaison that will communicate with Suzanne and this will speed the process of getting the answers back to you and resolving any issues.

I probably should apologise for the long winded explanations but as anyone that knows me will tell you I just don’t stop talking (I am a Kerry man!) But I do feel that this information will add clarity for people that are intending on travelling this year and on how we are dealing with things. Having stepped in from the outside one of the biggest things I have noticed is that the product is a five star product at a three star price, while I appreciate everyone is looking for value for money and you may see cheaper trips out there , there is no way you get the product that we supply. By this I mean the level of comfort, the quality and variety of food on the mountain, our own chemical toilets and our commitment to you. Until you have been on a trip with bad tents poor food lack of amenities and equipment would you understand what I am saying here, and certainly the old adage you pay for what you get is understated ! Kilimanjaro Achievers is run by volunteers, we are not a travel company, and so don’t have the accompanying overheads.

My last point is train train and then train some more.
I look forward to meeting you either at one of the training events or if we don’t meet in Ireland I will certainly be meeting you at Kilimanjaro Airport as you arrive to add a new chapter to your life.

Mike O’Shea

(Feb 2013)


One thought on “Update from Mike – Please Read

  1. karen mahon

    Mike, wishing you alll the best for 2013 and your fantastic fund raising efforts. My son Peter, from CBC in Monkstown, did the epic climb with Ian in August 2012. Was a ery sad day when we heard the news, but his memory will live on of course. Good Luck, and a safe trip. Karen.


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