From the streets of Reading to the summit of Kilimanjaro

From the streets of Reading to the summit of Kilimanjaro

Prepping for climbing high altitudes and mountaineering for the first time, training on the flat roads of Reading is not the first thing that comes to mind. Gina Moore, who has spent the past fifteen years trekking from the Inca Trails of Peru to Kilimanjaro ; has sat down with Nine to Alive to discuss how to prepare for mountaineering for the first time, whilst living in a city. 

Gina on the Nepalese mountain range

Gina has always been outdoors, from working in the equestrian industry and spending time outdoors she was hiking a lot in her free time and then went into mountaineering. Her first high altitude mountain experience was Kilimanjaro, Africa in 2009. 

Gina said : “When I climbed Kilimanjaro, I didn’t really have any idea what it was about. I just thought it looked good and something I would enjoy doing. My brother had climbed it a couple of years before and I just thought, I’d like a bit of a challenge. So I thought I would climb it! Luckily for me,  I don’t really seem to get affected by the altitude very much, which is good.  One way I prepare for all my climbs is by spending a lot of time at the gym on the stepper machine.” Training at the gym is a super accessible way to start preparing yourself for these big climbs.

After accomplishing Kilmanjaro and loving it, that was when Gina really started getting into longer distance walking, she said, “After that, I went out to Morocco and climbed Toubkal, which is the highest mountain in North Africa. And I just really, really enjoyed it. So I started doing some other things. So I did the Inca trail in Peru and I also did the Tour de Mont Blanc in the Alps.

When preparing one of the six thousand metre mountains in India, Gina was living in Redding, she explained, “It is very, very flat and not near any mountains or anything. So I spent lots of time walking with a heavy bag on my back. I spent lots of time on stair steppers in the gym and on treadmills with the incline up and then trying to find any kind of small inclines or hills that I could and just kind of walking up and down them many, many, many times. I also think that general fitness will get you there.”

Another aspect that is really important is your perspective on things, Gina said, “I think quite a lot of it’s in your head. If you’ve got that mental determination and the willingness to keep going even if it’s hard and that resilience to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. And then hopefully you know that that’s enough.”

Life on the mountain is like a different world to the hustle and bustle of city life, its a unique experience. “You’re out in the wilderness. And so for example, when I was in India and I climbed a mountain called Stok Kangri, which is just over 6000 metres. It takes you about six or seven days to trek into the mountain. And there were four or five others in the group with a couple mountaineering guides. We didn’t hardly see anybody apart from a few local sheep farmers and goat herders on the route. So you’re completely in this amazing place. We were in the Ladakh valley and you’ve just got these huge mountains all around you and you’re just walking for sort of 6-7 hours a day and you don’t see another single person. 

It’s so great because you’ve got no phone signal, you’ve got no Internet. All that you focus on when you’re doing these things is what you’re doing for that day, what you’re going to eat, what you’re wearing, what the weather’s like when you get to camp, you know, just chatting to your fellow trekkers and climbers You can completely switch off from everything back at home. I mean, anything could go on and you would have no idea.”

How to get started mountaineering: 

Gina’s advice for beginners wanting to get into mountain climbing would be to do some courses and get an introduction to mountaineering. She said, “I spent a good few years going on a few different courses so that you can learn how to put crampons on or how to tie a rope and how to  walk properly on ice and snow, those sorts of things.

So that when you’re there and you’re tired or you’re feeling, a bit hazy because of altitude.” It is the security of knowing that when you’re tired you know that you are tying your harness or crampons correctly to minimise problems.

Gina said, “That’s my main advice, people need to go and do the courses. There are lots of different companies that do them, whether that be in the Lake District, or Scotland or Snowdonia. And you can go and learn those basic skills. They’re really, really useful.” Make sure you find a reputable company that teaches you these skills.

Gina also suggests that there are lots of different well used publicised tracks within the UK that you can do that are quite easy to navigate and are well sign-posted and are commonly done, to get that taste of spending lots of time out and being sort of self-sufficient with your food and your water.

Back on home turf in the UK, Gina spends a lot of free time trail running, which is a great way you can prepare for the bigger climbs further afield.

“Most weekends now we go out into the Peak District , the Lake District or Snowdonia running trails, anything from 10 to 30 miles. Just taking advantage of being so close, within an hour to two hours drive from Manchester, you can kind of be out in that lovely scenery and out in the mountains.”

There are a lot of different trails that you can do around you can get outside either walk in, climb in, or run. Gina said one that she really enjoyed was the Peak Divide, “I ran from Manchester to Sheffield. We did it over two days, we ran from Manchester to Edale and from Edale down into Sheffield.  And that’s the other thing that I really like is you can get the train. It is more eco-friendly which is always good. A couple of weekends ago I got the train from Manchester into Hatfield and then ran up to Marsden and then got the train home.” Don’t let living in a city stop you from training from these outdoor escapes which seem a world away.

Want to read more about getting to the summit? Elevated Insights: Lessons from the Summit – Everest (

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