Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 30: On our way to Mt. Kilimanjaro! THANK YOU!

Weather Report on Kilimanjaro


All packed! 50lb duffle bag, 20lb backpack, 10lb GoPro case, and my boots!

The weather on Kilimanjaro during the past 2 weeks has been rough. Reports indicate heavy rain and snow. To put into perspective, during the last 10 days the mountain has received 20-55mm of rain (each day!) and elevations above 5,000m (over 16,000ft) have received 30-65cm of snow each day.

The team has been a bit nervous with this weather and have packed a lot to tackle he weather conditions. This will be my second climb of Kilimanjaro and it is already shaping up to be a totally different experience. Last time we had beautiful blue skies, this time it looks completely different. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the weather system passes and gives us sunny skies!

Thank You

Well, this is it! We are off to Africa to conquer Mt. Kilimanjaro! Half of our team left yesterday, and the rest of us will leave this afternoon. I wanted to express my sincere thanks to all of you for your amazing support and encouragement during the last 11 months leading up to our epic climb. I cannot tell you how much this has meant to me and the entire climb team.

As a team, we have raised $109,335 (so far!) for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Be proud of your contributions and know that you’ve help our local committees with developing meaningful breast health and breast cancer education and awareness programming, as well as funding to find a cure for breast cancer.

When the team reaches the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, we will raise a flag which carries messages of hope and inspiration in honor of those who have lost their battle to breast cancer, those who are fighting, and those who have survived!

We could not have made it this far without your support, and for that, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

If you would like to track our progress from the mountain, I will attempt to tweet from Kilimanjaro twice per day (if cell signals are strong). You can follow us here: Unfortunately, we will not be able to post photos until after we return to the hotel with a wifi connection.

And of course, if you have not yet made a contribution, there is still time! Remember, all donations are tax deductible and I will send you a personal gift following the climb. It would be awesome if we could hit at least $110,000 before we come back (I like round numbers). Click here to donate:

Thank you once again everyone.:)

p.s. I’ll be sure to write a few blogs with detailed descriptions of the climb each day and photos upon our return. It might take a week or two, but it will be done! 🙂


Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 28: Injuries, Flag, and Fundraising


Some of the team on a group training hike!

Time is flying by! Summer is over, fall is here and we fly out to Tanzania in 15 days!!!

The last couple of weeks have been a blur. As we inch closer to our departure date, my life has been in the fast lane. I realized I haven’t blogged in a few weeks and I apologize to my readers. From the wedding engagement and wedding planning, to purchasing a new home, to starting a new role at CIBC, and all of the Kilimanjaro training, I’ve found it difficult to take some time to get to the blog. But here we are…let’s get down to business! 🙂


About 3 weeks ago after a nice long 7hr hike, I was thinking to myself, “Good work Jeff. This is the first time in two years since you’ve gone without some sort of injury during training!” I may have spoken too soon. A day or two afterwards, I noticed a sharp pain in my left knee, similar to it wanting to give out. I though perhaps I had pushed myself too hard in the training so I took a week off of leg exercises to give my knee some time to recover. It didn’t work, so I headed to my physiotherapist (Kyle) to see if he could help.

After a 30 minute examination, Kyle mentioned the pain was caused due to some muscle imbalances and weakness in my hip and glutes (I cannot recall the technical term for his prognosis…but can get it for those who are curious). He immediately started a high powered ultrasound session to help speed the healing process, and requested I complete 2 at-home muscle strengthening exercises for my hips and glutes, as well as a few stretches. He believes the issues would correct themselves in about 3-4 weeks, just in time for the climb!

Two days later, during the second session, he wanted to try “Dry Needling” on my glute and hip. Not sure what dry needling is? Neither was I…and I wish I never did afterwards – lol. Think of acupuncture, but with a longer needle, and having the therapist manipulate the needle while it’s deeply inserted into your muscles. What is it supposed to do? It helps draw red blood cells to the trigger point, and helps your body release toxins in the area causing the issue.

Curious? Here is a youtube video. Warning…if you don’t like needles, you may want to skip this video. (note – this is not my video and I am not the patient although my needles were inserted in my glute and left hip).

Immediately after the dry needling, I felt a noticeable difference in my mobility and flexibility…however the pain in my glute and hip lasted about 6 hours. During my 3rd session he informed me my muscles are so tight, that I bent one of his needles and I should also get some massage therapy on the areas of concern to help loosen them up. Kyle and I are still working together (I see him 2-3 times a week) and I should be all set for the climb. Onward and upwards! 🙂

The Flag

Some of our team with the flag

Our team will be carrying a large flag to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro. The flag proudly showcases our team climb logo, featuring the support for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Two weeks ago we brought the flag to the CIBC Run for the Cure kickoff event (our first public team event) where we had members of the public write heartfelt messages of hope, inspiration, and encouragement not only for the climbers, but for those who are affected by breast cancer in some way, shape, or form.

If you’d like to sign the flag and have your message be proudly displayed on the tallest free-standing mountain in the world, let me know and I can schedule some time to have you come down to the office and sign it.


Our team goal is to raise at least $100,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation before we leave for the climb. As of this evening, our team has raised an amazing $97,373 !!!! We’re less than $2,700 away from hitting our goal!!! With that said, I have some exciting news!

If you haven’t had a chance to donate to the foundation in support of our climb, now is the best time. Donate by October 5th, and you’ll have a chance to win a short-haul flight with Air Canada! Every $50 donation will receive 1 ballot. Want more chances? Every $50 increment will give you another ballot (i.e. $100 donation = 2 ballots!).

All the funds you donate will go directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation which in turn support cancer research, education and awareness initiatives across the country.

Please help us hit our goal…as it will make that much more impactful for the foundation and the moment we reach the top of Kilimanjaro, knowing we have you behind us every step of the way.


Some of our team on our last group training hike

Some of our team during our last group training hike Saturday September 19th, 2015



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Donate Now!









As we gear up for the climb in two weeks, we’ve started to taper our training. We need to ensure our immune system is top notch, not stressed or fatigued, and our bodies recover from any injuries. So the last week has been light in the training aspect…and the upcoming two weeks will be even lighter. I’ll continue to watch what I eat to ensure I’m detoxing my system before the climb. I can proudly say I have not had a cup of coffee or an alcoholic beverage since July. I’m really looking forward to an ice cold beer after the climb! 🙂

This week I completed the following:

September 20-27
Monday: Glute & hip strengthening exercises & stretches
Tuesday: Glute & hip strengthening exercises & stretches
Wednesday: Glute & hip strengthening exercises & stretches
Thursday: Stretches / Rest
Friday: Glute & hip strengthening exercises & stretches
Saturday: 6hr hike + Glute & hip strengthening exercises & stretches
Sunday: 5hr hike + stretches

The upcoming week I will hit the gym for some light cardio and weight training as I continue to monitor my knee pain, in addition to relaxing at home after work.

Thanks for your continued support and interest everyone!

Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 23: Training Mask & Team Hiking

Training Mask

As you read this blog post, how is your posture? Are you sitting on a chair or couch? Standing on the subway? Are you hunched forward or is your back straight and your sitting/standing at attention? Did you just adjust your posture? Haha! What about your breathing? Are you breathing fast or slow? Deep or shallow?

You really don’t need to think about breathing as you go through your regular day to day activities. It happens without you having to remember to do so. Isn’t your body amazing?

During my Week 15 blog post, I outlined a few exercises to help prepare for the higher altitudes we’ll experience on Mt. Kilimanjaro. For those who are not aware, Mt. Kilimanjaro stands at 19,341 feet tall (5,895 meter). At that height, the effectiveness of oxygen at that level is only about 9.9% (sea level the effectiveness of oxygen is approximately 21%…and on the other side of the spectrum, Mt. Everest falls at 6.9% effective). Due to the lack of oxygen at higher levels, the body increases production of the red blood cell to help carry more oxygen to muscles in order to complete your daily activities.

IMG_7957One way to train for the higher altitude (besides the breathing exercises outlined during the Week 15 post) is to use an altitude training mask. The mask restricts airflow, simulating higher altitude (up to 18,000 ft). I’ve been using it while writing this blog and to forces me to think about my breathing (very controlled, slow, deep breaths). While the other exercises are great for the moment you’re completing the task, it’s hard to run with a bag of potatoes on your stomach (haha!) so having the mask on while running will really force you to concentrate on your breathing. It’s a great tool to strap on when climbing stairs, weight training, running, and relaxing on the couch. Plus…it’s hard to eat cookies while wearing the mask….so it helps in more ways than you think 😉

Would I recommend the mask to other potential climbers? Yes. But don’t fool yourself in just using the mask. You need to train properly for several months before embarking on the Kilimanjaro journey.


Team Training

11053089_10155958636880402_442836720408800140_oAnother great weekend with some of my Kilimanjaro team members! Yesterday, nine of us completed a 7hr training hike at Rattlesnake Point and Crawford Lake. The weather was fantastic, everyone’s spirits were high, and the terrain was fairly close to what we’ll be experiencing on Mt. Kilimanjaro.

IMG_8240While our hiking speed may have been slightly faster than what we’ll complete on Kili, I think everyone did a great job. Everyone on the team seems stronger and ready for the challenge ahead! With only seven weeks to go, you can feel anticipation growing on the team. I love it!

IMG_8230Later this week the team will meet to review our packing and equipment requirements. We all need to ensure we have the proper gear for a successful and somewhat comfortable climb. Next weeks blog I’ll share some photos and the list for any future climbers 🙂

Save The Date

For those in the Toronto area, please save the date!

Date: Tuesday September 15th
Time: Lunch Hour (12-1pm)
Location: 199 Bay Street – CIBC Commerce Court – Outdoor Courtyard
What: Celebration of ‘Think Pink’ week in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and a chance to meet the climbing team plus a few other awesome surprises…. more details to come!



In addition to the my average daily walks of about 7K, this week I completed the below.

August 17-23
Monday: 4K run + Chest & Arm strengthening exercises (1hr 45 mins)
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: 6K run
Thursday: Back & Arm strengthening exercises (1hr 15 mins)
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 7hr hike
Sunday: 3hr hike


Don’t forget – all the funds I raise are donated directly to the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. I will be paying my way for the entire trip out of my own pocket (flights, climb costs, equipment, vaccines, etc.). The funds you donate are used by the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation for breast cancer research and education/awareness programs. If you have’t made a donation yet, there is still time! Help us hit our goal of $100,000 – we’re almost there!!

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Help us reach $100,000!!!

Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 21: Engagement & Team Hiking


If you’re familiar with my first Kilimanjaro climb from 2013, you may recall one of my blog posts outlining a long 7.5hr training hike that I completed last September with a friend named Jade. She was a colleague that wanted to join me on my training hikes and go on an adventure. Having someone to chat with on these long hikes really took my mind off the distance and muscle soreness.

Jade joined me for a few more hikes and soon after that we started dating (you really get to know someone when you’re stuck in a forest with them for an entire day – hahaha!). During the last 2 years we kept the tradition of seeking adventure when ever and where ever we could. Why not add a new element into the picture for more adventure? The time had come for me to pop the big question!

Last weekend, Jade and I went on a Kilimanjaro training hike, and followed the same route we trekked the first time we hiked together. We stopped for a picnic lunch at our favourite secluded spot beside the river and enjoyed the warm summer sun. Shortly after our lunch, as we started to pack up to continue our hike. Jade turned away to look down the river, and I got down on one knee and waited for her to turn back towards me. When she did, I spoke from the heart and recited a proposal I had written, asking her to marry me. She said yes. 🙂 We’re very excited and look forward to the many adventures we’ll experience in this new chapter together.


(I have now claimed our secret secluded area on the hiking trail and have proclaimed it “Proposal Rock”. 🙂 

Team Hike


With only 10 weeks to go before we start our climb, we’ll need to pick up the pace with our training. More cardio, trekking, breathing, will help us prepare mentally and physically for the climb. Today, half of our team met up at Rouge Valley Park to complete our first training hike as a team!

Meeting up at 7:45am to start the journey, we completed several different hiking trails which contained some great terrain. The weather was much more tolerable than last week, making our 6 hour hike that much more fun!

We have a fantastic group and everyone looks strong! I’m impressed with how well everyone is doing so far. Just goes to show the team is sticking to their training plan 🙂

There is of course, some room for improvement. We’ll need to focus more on our breathing from the diaphragm while going up hill and pacing ourselves with a slower pace. The team will regroup on August 22nd for a more challenging hike at Rattlesnake Point.


In addition to the my average daily walks of about 7K, this week I completed the below.

August 3-9
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Legs & Core strengthening exercises (1hr 15 mins)
Wednesday: Chest, Triceps, and Leg strengthening exercises (1hr 15mins)
Thursday: 6K run (33mins)
Friday: Shoulder and Leg strengthening exercises (1hr 15mins)
Saturday: 6hr hike
Sunday: Rest


As of today’s date, I’ve raised $7,948 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! Very close to my $8,500 goal! Our team has collectively raised $82,543 towards our $100,000 team goal!!! Almost there! I’m so proud of everyone! 🙂

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Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 19: Columbia Sportswear & St. Lawrence Market

Corporate Sponsors

As I’ve mentioned in a few blog posts, all of us participating in this years climb are responsible for covering our own costs for the climb (airfare, equipment, vaccines, climbing costs, etc.) which quickly add up. On average, we’re each spending about $4,000 – $5,000 out of pocket to complete the climb. Some corporations have been very kind to us and have offered generous discounts (such as IceBreaker) to help reduce our costs.

This past week, the climb team met up for our monthly team meeting and we had a surprise visit from our friend Jennifer at the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. When she entered the meeting room, she had 3 large boxes with her, and an even larger smile on her face! She had some great news to share with us all.

columbiaColumbia Sportswear offered to help our team by providing a summit jacket to everyone for help our trek to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro! The temperature at the top of the mountain drops to a bone chilling -25C. Being able to stay warm on the exhausting last day to the top, is extremely important. Instead of wasting energy on shivering from the extreme cold temperatures, we can focus our energy on climbing to the top. Not having to worry to purchase more equipment helps strike one more item off my things to do list. In a few weeks I’ll provide some more details around the Columbia Sportswear brand and some facts about the jacket they’ve provided.


St. Lawrence Market

Yesterday, I spent a little over an hour standing outside the Toronto St. Lawrence Market handing out pink ribbons and a small leaflet to help spread awareness about the climb, and of course, breast cancer in general.

MarketA lot of people stopped to talk to me about their family members who won the battle, or sadly lost the battle against breast cancer. I also had the pleasure of speaking to some breast cancer survivors who were extremely appreciative of what I was doing for the cause.

If those passing by wanted to make a small contribution to the cause, I had a small pink CBCF box available for spare change. In total I raised about $25. However, the leaflet contained a donation website link if people felt compelled to donate online. Within a few hours I received 2 extremely generous donations from members of the community I met at the St. Lawrence Market. (Thank you both for your contributions and support!).

Raising funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF) is very important. The funds are used to support groundbreaking breast cancer research, educational and awareness campaigns across Canada, and provide assistance to families.

Our goal (as a team) is to raise at least $100,000 for the foundation before we start our climb this October. As of today, we have collectively raised $77,183 for CBCF! If you haven’t donated yet, there is still time! Please click here to make a donation online and help us hit our $100K goal!


Today I completed a 6.5 hour training hike with a 15lb pack. The hike wasn’t too bad, although by the end of the day, my feet were extremely tired and sore. It didn’t help that it was so hot outside (36C). Earlier in the week was able to complete 2 different runs and a weight training session.

This coming week I’ll be focusing on running (to keep up the cardio), some weight training, and another long hike on Sunday.

Thank you all for your continued support!
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Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 17: Hiking & Running with friends

Hiking with Friends

The last two weeks have been a blur. I can’t recall the last time I was this busy and I bet a bunch of you are in the same boat! Hopefully for you, it’s the ‘good’ type of busy, as it has been for me. I sometimes find that  these crazy moments are the best because you get to experience some amazing things in life, and these moments help inspire and bring forward opportunities you never knew were there!

When I travel, I enjoy travelling like a local. I want to experience new and different things most tourists would never experience. Some of you might know that I’ve been an Airbnb host for almost 4 years now all thanks to an experience I had back in 2012 with an Airbnb host in Prague. One night in Prague, my Airbnb host introduced me to their friends, took me out to a local pub and taught me all about Prague, the lifestyle, government, and told me all of the amazing hidden treasures in Prague most tourists would never find. It was that experience that made me want to become an Airbnb host and share the treasures of Toronto. Fast forward 4 years later, I’ve hosted over 300 people, given them the same terrific hospitality as my Prague host taught me, and I am now one of the leading hosts in the GTA.

Last week, I had the pleasure completing a Kilimanjaro training hike with an Airbnb guest (Alberto), another Airbnb host in the Toronto area (Asmi), a colleague (Kris), and my girlfriend (Jade). The exciting part about the hike: most of them never knew this hiking trail existed so close to the Toronto downtown core! This secret hidden gem in the city surprised Asmi and Kris (locals) and definitely wowed Alberto (from Italy).

Rest before our Stone Skipping Event

Rest before our Stone Skipping Event

No only did we get to enjoy the scenery, but we also were entertained along the way by the Pan Am Games Art Relay. Along the path we were greeted by art installations, live bands, and a few other wonderful surprises. When ti was time for a break, I took them to my favourite secret place to have a snack and rest before we headed back home. We spent an hour skipping stones, creating our own Pan Am “Stone Skipping” competition – haha! (Alberto had the winning toss 🙂 ).


Pan Am Games Morning Run

To help kick off the Toronto Pan Am Games celebrations this past Friday, I had the honour of running a 10K (which turned out to be 11K) with Canadian Gold Medalist Simon Whitfield!

A day before the event, I experienced a bad case of food poisoning. I wasn’t able to eat for about 24 hours, and could barely keep liquids down. The morning of the run, I knew I was in no shape to run, but just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run with Simon. So I gathered all the energy I could and made my way to the starting line, only to find out Simon, himself couldn’t run due to a foot injury.

The moment he mentioned he couldn’t run, a sense of relief filled my mind, but within seconds quick disappeared as Simon agreed to ride a bike along side the runners (there were 15 of us). I took a gulp of my orange gatorade, and tried to find the energy to complete the run.

Jeff with Simon Whitfield

Jeff with Simon Whitfield

Simon was extremely friendly, down to earth, very encouraging, and interested in Mt. Kilimanjaro! While we completed our run through the streets of downtown Toronto, he was there, ensuring he took time to chat with all of us.

I won’t lie. The run was difficult, and I ended up having to take it a bit slower than the rest, but I think I held my own considering the circumstances the day before. My pace (5.45/km) was faster than my average pace (6.10/km) and I ran an extra 1K ‘just for fun’ – haha. (Thanks Shelley for your help during the last 2K!).

Who knows…maybe we’ll see Simon on Mt. Kilimanjaro sometime soon? 😉



Fundraising Update:

As of today’s date, I’ve raised $7,543 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! My team has collectively raised $75,268 for the foundation. We’re 25% away from hitting our goal of $100,000!!!!!

Training Update:

This coming week I’ll be taking some time away from the city and work and heading down to Chicago. While I’m away I will be focusing on my breathing exercises (to help the acclimatization process), and some cardio exercises.


Mt. Kilimanjaro – Week 15: High Altitude Breathing

High Altitude Breathing

Mt. Kilimanjaro is the world’s tallest free-standing mountain and it stands 5,895 meters (19,341 feet) tall. To put that in perspective, it’s about 11 CN Towers stacked on top of each other, or 15.5 Empire State Buildings stack on top of each other. (Mt. Everest, the world’s tallest mountain in a mountain range, stands 8,850 meters high).

Most people can ascend to 2,400m or 8,000ft without experiencing any major problems. However, the higher you climb, the less oxygen there is to breathe, which creates a problem when participating in physical activities. I’ve been reminded: it doesn’t matter how fit you are for the climb, it’s all about how your body reacts to the higher altitude and how well it can cope with altitude sickness (AS).

To have a successful climbing experience, you must train to be physically and mentally prepared to tackle Mt. Kilimanjaro. Sure, we can all hit the gym a few times a week, weigh train, go out for a run, and chant positive affirmations to boost our confidence before climbing. Yet, it can be difficult to prepare for the higher altitude and AS.

What is altitude sickness?
“Current thinking is that hypoxia (low oxygen) in the air and blood causes the blood vessels of the brain to dilate in an attempt to get more oxygen. Something about this vasodilation causes the headache. And because there is more blood in the brain, the brain is slightly swollen. Although everyone going to high altitude has slight brain swelling, it is worse in those who develop acute mountain sickness. This swelling causes pressure on the brain as it is squeezed against the skull, and the pressure might be the cause of the symptoms.”1

What are the symptoms of altitude sickness? Headache, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, mental confusion, nosebleeds, fatigue, shortness of breath, drowsiness,  insomnia, and in severe cases, fever, loss of consciousness, and retinal hemorrhaging…just to name a few.  Altitude sickness can be fatal, and the tour guides leading us to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro take extreme precautions to ensure everyone on the climb is feeling okay.  We will take a slow route to the top: 7 days to summit, each day trekking about 6-8hrs. Trekking slowly will help everyone acclimatize.

How can climbers prepare for the high altitude? 
Climbers need to strengthen their diaphragm and increase their lung capacity which will help process oxygen more efficiently. Interval training is a great way to prepare for higher altitude as it strengthens your heart/lungs by elevating your heart rate quickly, allowing recovery time before elevating the heart rate again. For example:
– Go for a light jog for about 10 minutes
– Once your body is warmed up, run as fast as you can for 60 seconds (which will increase your heart rate)
– Then slow back down to your regular jogging pace for 3-4 minutes (allowing your heart/lungs to recover)
– Then run as fast as you can for another 60 seconds…and repeat 4-5 times.

In addition to the interval training, you need to focus on deep controlled breathing.
– Imagine the spot just below your navel
– Take a deep, slow breath, filling that spot in your abdomen with air
– Let the air slowly fill the abdomen up, then let it out, like deflating a balloon

Climbers can also complete one of the following breathing exercises to help simulate higher altitude:

fat-straws1Straw Breathing:
– Place a regular drinking straw in your mouth
– Slowly inhale through the straw, allowing your abdomen to fill with air
– Slowly exhale through the straw
– Complete this exercise for 5 minutes twice a day
– When your feel your body is used to this type of breathing and it’s not longer difficult, try a straw with a smaller width (i.e. start off with a bubble tea straw, then move down to a regular size straw, then a cocktail straw, and finally a coffee stir stick straw)





The Potato Sack:
– Lay on a flat surface
– Place a 10lb bag of potatoes on your diaphragm (this will help simulate the pressure at higher altitude, and help build your diaphragm muscles)
– Slowly inhale through your nose allowing your abdomen to fill with air
– Slowly exhale through your mouth
– Complete this exercise for 5 minutes twice a day

Fundraising Update:

As of today’s date, I’ve raised $6,771 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation! Very close to my $7,500 goal!

Training Update:

In addition to the my average daily walks of about 7K, this week I completed the below.

June 22 – 28
Monday: 6K Run (30min) + Beach Volleyball (1.5hrs)
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Back, Arms, and Leg strengthening exercises (1hr 15mins) + 3K Run
Thursday: Shoulder and Leg strengthening exercises (1hrs)
Friday: City walk (2hrs) + 5K run (25min)
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rest