Back to Kilimanjaro


On a rainy day in July 2010, I was sitting on the train reading the Metro (a free London commuter paper) and I saw a large Alzheimer’s Society advertisement for Kilimanjaro. For some reason this really sparked something inside of me and I immediately signed up on a whim. Apart from hiking boots, I didn’t have one single piece of hiking, camping, exercise-related kit so I had to buy everything from scratch. The other point to mention is that I was really quite unfit and overweight. I didn’t let that put me off though and I did do a lot of hiking training for the trip. When Kilimanjaro came around, it was probably all a bit too much for me – I wasn’t used to camping, not washing for days, drinking slightly murky tasting water and being away from home comforts.


I was also carrying a bit more excess baggage than I should have been and the rest of it is pretty much a blur. I got quite bad altitude sickness and didn’t make the summit, and when I came back I was broken. For ages when people asked me about the trip and Kilimanjaro, I didn’t have a good word to say about it and now I’ve since realised it wasn’t the mountain I hated, but myself. What I did make though was huge changes to my life afterwards, which you can read about here. The shame and the disappointment kick started this love of exercise and travelling, and in that respect I am thankful, but I have unfinished business with that mountain…


So I am taking my new-found confidence having taken on Toubkal, Mont Blanc and Elbrus to go back and face Kilimanjaro again, this time for pure fun! Now I know what to expect and I am better prepared. I know that I can do it and, importantly, I can enjoy it this time. I’m also going to make the most of being there by visiting the orphanage and going on safari.

This is who I am now, and I’ve got this!…




I am climbing Kilimanjaro in August 2015 with Discover Adventure. Come and join me! x


Things I’m really excited about over the next few months

  • Climbing the Dolomites and visiting Venice (leave on Saturday morning)
  • Earning my first wage as a self-employed person and buying a pair of Louboutins to celebrate (or a pair of La Sportiva B3 boots!)
  • Upping the training for Mont Blanc – I’m planning more running and upper body work mixed with climbing
  • Seeing my new kitchen, bathroom and conservatory (work starts next week)
  • Buying one of these cute chicken houses and getting a few more bantam hens
  • Climbing Mont Blanc and seeing the view from the summit
  • Booking my next adventure – I’m thinking Kilimanjaro in December if anyone wants to join me? I’m going to try and do on the cheap and Aconcagua in January/February
What are you looking forward to?

Run Forrest! Run!

© Caroline Janssens 2012

Where there is a will, there is a way.  Always.

Last September, I successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.  It is high, very high (5895m).  It was hard, very hard.  I trained for it, not too much, not too little, just enough for my feet, legs and body never to hurt on the way up.  What was hard was the altitude, the headaches, the walking hours, the sleepless nights and for that, there is no training, you just have to go with it.  I had always wanted to climb that mountain.  I had some experience with trekking and camping at high altitude which I built very gradually (skiing in the Alps, hiking in Austria, hiking Los Picos de Europa in Spain, trekking along the Inca trail in Peru, climbing Mount Toubkal in Morocco, etc.).  On each of these occasions my body responded well to high altitude.  Mount Kilimanjaro was therefore simply the obvious next step in altitude and level of challenge.  I was confident I could do it.  I had purposely chosen that challenge as a pretext to raise money for a charity that is close to my heart and that surely helped building the mental strength I needed to get to the top.  I enjoyed every single minute of the entire trek, even the eight hours of the summit night.  I felt a level of focus and contentment that I had never felt before.  I can’t express what I felt up there but that gave me the wings to get to the top. 

And then there was Sian, my training and trekking buddy.  She had never been to Africa and she had never set a foot on a mountain.  She had simply read an advertising about the challenge in a paper, gave little thoughts about it and signed up for it.  She trained as hard as I did (and probably even harder) but she did not make it to the top.  She got altitude sickness from day 2 and never managed to recover.  It was heart-breaking to see my training buddy not being able to make it.  There was nothing I could do to make her feel better and, selfishly, I was so focus on my own challenge.  She was immensely gutted but failing the ascent did not stop her.  To the contrary.  When she got back to the UK she pulled herself together and in the space of 6 months she run a couple of half marathons, she successfully climbed Mount Toubkal (4167m), and completed her very first full marathon!!!  I was blown away.  I am not a quitter myself, but it is great to see how she regained confidence and focus.  With Midula, another training buddy who climbed the Kili pretty much at the same time as we did, they set up a motivational fitness blog ( ) where they share their experience as newly runner, climbers and fitness divas!  Check it out, it is entertaining.

Where there is a will, there is a way.  Always.  But rather than being impulsive I like to do things gradually, I like to listen to my body, know where I stand and it works for me.  So my next step in the climbing venture is to spend 6 weeks in the Himalayas next September/October!  Travel buddies are welcome; email me if you’re interested.

Next week, I’ll tell you about Playtime, a Belgian band I discovered recently.  Bye for now.

Lists: 40 things before I’m 40

Ok, so I’ve got a while yet (8 years), but I love to plan and make lists and it’s great when you tick a few things off so this is my list of things to do before I’m 40 (some of these are more wishful thinking!):

1) Run a marathon – Entered and running in the Brighton marathon next week

2) Learn to speak French – I was always really good at it at school, but I need to refresh my memory

3) Train to become a personal trainer – started

4) Climb Mont Blanc (4810 metres) – booked in September

5) Complete a triathlon

6) Wear a bikini – bought and will be worn in Italy in July

7) Go to Venice – booked for July

8) Get a six pack (stomach not beers!)

9) Have a photo shoot done – bought just need to book in

10) Buy a pair of Christian Louboutins

11) Set up my own business – done

12) Climb Mount Elbrus, Russia (5642 metres)

13) Trek in the Simian mountains in Ethiopia (4543 metres)

14) Go on safari

15) Climb Everest (8848 metres)

16) Learn to rock climb properly – learning this summer

17) Finish doing up my house – planning permission applied for and work starts in the next couple of weeks

18) Practise yoga at least once a week

19) Walk the length of the South Downs Way (100 miles)

20) Climb Aconcagua, Argentina (6962) – Planned for next year

21) Visit Italy – booked for this summer

22) Get into a size 8 – I’m about a size 9 now (27 inch waist) so this goal isn’t that far off!

23) Take a creative photography course

24) Learn to love myself more

25) Go back to Kilimanjaro (5895 metres) and actually reach the summit – planned for 2013!

26) Go free diving

27) Get my pilot’s license

28) Have a picnic in the Ashdown forest

29) Run a 5k in 25 minutes or under – I’m on 26.50 minutes now

30) Read one book a week

31) Visit Yosemite National Park – on the list for next year

32) Visit the Fat Duck

33) Go to a fancy dress party

34) Visit Sheffield Park Gardens

35) Learn to paraglide

36) Give a presentation without having a panic attack beforehand

37) Realise that if I can even think about doing 4, 12, 15 and 25 then giving a presentation is easy!

38) Make more friends, especially those who like me for who I am – working on it this year!

39) Learn to play tennis – might do this over the summer

40) Write a book

What’s on your list?

Coming soon – lists from Midula and Sami. x