Lessons from Tanzania

March 23, 2016

Lessons from Tanzania

Over 12 years ago I reached the 4,562m summit of Mount Meru in Tanzania.  The feeling of standing on that peak will never leave me, it was a defining moment. I had never climbed a mountain before.  Growing up in Australia meant the opportunity to climb things was typically restricted to trees and ladders.  

I actually didn't think I would become a lover of the mountains like I am today because my first climb was tough.  I went with a girlfriend over a three-day break from the school we were working at in East Africa. We didn't have adequate gear and did it on the cheap. In fact, I learned so much from that first climb that I am convinced it shaped the climber that I’ve become today.

Here’s what I learned from my first and most memorable trek:

  1. Think before you bargain

    We were naive and we found the cheapest expedition possible - mistake one! Not because we needed thicker air beds with warmer sleeping bags or freshly roasted chicken, but because a pricier expedition meant crew were being paid decent salaries, dressed in appropriate clothing and given employment benefits that positively impact their families, like healthcare and education.

    Good expedition companies are also passionate about the environment they are working in - they pack out what they pack in and leave no footprint.  The experience on Mt Meru taught me to understand more about the organisations I buy products and services from and to put a higher value on their supply chain and their work in local communities.  The experience on Meru introduced me to the world of socially conscious businesses and it has been an area I have remained in ever since.

  2. It isn't as easy as you think.  

    Despite having spent the first few months prior to the trek familiarising myself with Tanzanian beer and enormous quantities of beans and rice, I thought I was totally prepared for the climb.  Mmm..  Mistake two.  It was hard, really hard.  

    The 17 false summits didn't help, and although I managed to wing it to the summit if I had prepared myself better it would have been a far greater experience.  I think that has been a great life lesson for me. Sure, I can wing a lot of things but preparation makes the experience so much more enjoyable, no matter what it is - a climb, a 5km run, a speaking engagement.  If you are prepared it pays off.
  1.  Change starts with you.

    The most powerful lesson I took away from that first climb was to take action. Standing still wasn't an option. I would get too cold and wouldn't be any closer to the top. I have become a huge advocate of progress over perfection - just move, just take the first step - standing here is going to kill us.  

    I try and live like that every day now - do something, anything, take a leap, take a step, just move.  It also taught me to take action against the things I don't like and to create the change myself.

Regards,

Chloe Chick
ATC Mountaineering Expert

 




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