Gina Parsley took on Mt. Kilimanjaro as part of Team Fox, a Michael J Fox Foundation fundraiser. Last year she was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. She felt inspired to fulfill a lifelong dream, climb to the top of the mountain, saying "While I'm still healthy and able, I may not always be." Hearing about her adventure we at JunoActive asked Gina all about her climb.
What happened that was unexpected?
"Oh, I have so many stories. I did not make it all the way to the summit, but I made it as far as the snow and ice, and that was my goal. One morning, I forgot sunscreen and got full-on sun poisoning and massive blisters in 30 minutes. The equator is a scary place that way!! The weather is 90 degrees at the bottom and 0 at the top. You go through 5 ecosystems. It's an experience of a lifetime."
Would you recommend climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to just anyone or should the climber be physically fit?
"Depends on the route you take, and if you are determined to summit. To summit, you need to be in decent shape and be able to climb quickly. I was a slower climber, and the phrase they use is "Pole Pole" which means 'slowly slowly'."
"Your gear means everything. Bring the best, top of the line gear you can, including clothing, because you won't be able to change every day. Chafing is a huge issue on multi-day climbs, the JunoActive double-layer shorts were great, and the Danskin leggings I've had for years worked great for layering underneath sweats when it would get below 0 at night."
What would you do differently next time you climb a mountain?
"I think with every trip, prep more. I'd take the slower, less ambitious route up to the summit. I'd add several days to my trip to be able to do a multi-day safari."
We heard you have a 3-in-1 Alpine ski jacket from JunoActive.com Did you use it on your climb?
"I did! I wore the inner fleece almost every day and night (including sleeping in it) and wore the outer shell as needed (it did get very windy on the mountain). Buff headwear? EVERY outdoor shop should carry. a fresh one every day, fresh underwear and fresh socks were the key to not feeling icky without a shower for so long."Way to go Gina! Your ambitious climb may not have ended at the top of a mountain but your journey is inspiring to all women of any size to be active. Keep on embracing your active life.
To see more pictures and hear all about Gina's climb visit her blog at http://www.ginaclimbskili.blogspot.com/