I'm sat here this evening thinking about all of the aspects I'd not considered, and things I've taken away with me from the experience.
So many aspects of the climb can also apply to every day life, whether you're climbing a mountain or not!
1. It's not a race
So, you know that slow and steady wins the race!
Whilst Kilimanjaro is not a race, the same applies.
PolePole (slowly) is a word you will hear multiple times a day throughout your climb, and with good reason. You will think you can walk faster, you probably can, but it is a long hike and endurance is key. Don't compare your pace with others, and don't feel bad for walking slowly. In actual fact, the slower you walk, the easier it is for your body to acclimatise to altitude. Trust the pace your guides are setting for you.
They know what they're doing, they do this week in week out.
2. Your guides are omniscient
If they tell you to walk polepole, then do it.
If they tell you that you're too unwell to continue, then listen to them.
There are horror stories about people who hid their symptoms, or didn't tell their guides that they felt unwell, and they ended up severely ill, and in some cases died from it. (Yes, it does happen)
As our guide said, "the mountain will always be there, it's a mountain. You as a human will not be."
You may be disappointed that you've not reached the summit, but it's not worth risking serious injury, illness or even death.
3. You will need a lot of toilet breaks...
You need to drink around 4-5 litres a day up the mountain, and Diamox (used for altitude sickness) is a diuretic, so you'll need to find a good rock, ladies!
There are toilets at each camp though!
In through your nose, out through your mouth etc...
You're tired, your legs are burning from climbing, your back is aching.
5. You can do it...
Your feet will always keep going, your legs will always keep going. Your muscles probably ache and you're struggling to take a full breath because of the altitude, but you can do it.
Leave your comfort zone.
Just keep going.
6. You will be exhausted
Now you have to descend. Adrenaline may have helped you reach the top, but the walk back down is the tiring part.
When you get down off the mountain and you're back in your hotel, you will sleep like a baby.
7. Tip your Guides and Porters!
The salaries they get aren't huge, and so tipping (which is the done thing) is very much appreciated. I tipped $400 which was all I could afford, but I know some tipped a lot less. For me, personally, I was happy to give what I could, because I know that they rely on these. If you can afford to fly to Tanzania and pay to climb a mountain, you can afford to tip the people who got you there.
Without them, you'd not have reached the summit.
9. Appreciate how beautiful the mountain is
A lot of the climb is so barren. Endless alpine desert and lava rocks, but it was just beautiful.
10. Celebrate your achievement
Probably when I'm sat in my retirement home drinking gin.
I was so proud to reach the summit, so thankful to my guides and porters for getting me there, and learnt a lot about myself in the process. Things I thought were difficult in my everyday life are really not, at all. The perspective gained from the climb has changed me outlook on my career path, my life, my interests and I now have a new, very expensive hobby.