Archives for Medical category
Posted on Dec 03, 2011 under Medical |
Altitude sickness is the main cause of fatalities on Mount Kilimanjaro. Therefore, many operators have oxygen available to treat climbers who have developed moderate or severe altitude sickness.
Upon request, Ultimate Kilimanjaro will carry oxygen for emergency purposes only, to treat a stricken climber in conjunction with immediate descent.
However, there are some operators who advertise the use of a “personal oxygen system” to assist climbers on Mount Kilimanjaro. Besides the fact that you would look more like a hospital patient than a mountain trekker, there are serious reasons why using oxygen in this manner is NOT advised.
When you develop symptoms of moderate or severe altitude sickness, it is not because the body is trying to make it unpleasant for you without merit. It is because the body recognizes that you are unable to function at the current altitude, and does not want you to climb any higher. Your body is telling you– DESCEND NOW. Not listening to the body is how most people get into trouble on the mountain.
By using supplemental oxygen, you have effectively stopped your body’s attempts at acclimatization by raising the oxygen content of the air you breathe. Using oxygen to climb ignores your body’s clear message to descend. And while your body was unable to acclimatize to the current altitude, you have made things even worse by climbing even higher. It is dangerous situation.
Lastly, what is point of climbing Kilimanjaro with supplemental oxygen? The difficulty of Kilimanjaro lies with its altitude. As a trek, it is not difficult by hiking standards, if you remove the challenge of high altitude. I guess some people climb Kilimanjaro just to say they did it, regardless of the manner in which it was done. But it is not much of an achievement if you put the mountain at sea level.
The bottom line is that supplemental oxygen is potentially dangerous when used to climb higher, is wholly unnecessary on Kilimanjaro, and is against the spirit and challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Posted on Nov 11, 2011 under General, Medical, Routes |
Crater Camp is a campsite that is located near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, around 18,800 feet above sea level. (Uhuru Peak is 19,345 feet above sea level.) It is utilized by some climb operators during eight or nine day climbs, usually via the Lemosho or Shira route and Western Breach approach.
The campsite sits in between Uhuru and the Furtwangler Glacier. Understandably, clients are intrigued at the opportunity to sleep next to the disappearing glacier. Additonally, they like the idea of having a short walk to the summit.
We are occasionally asked whether we use Crater Camp on our routes. We do not. Here’s why. Sleeping at such a high altitude is the most dangerous thing you can do on Mount Kilimanjaro. The previous night’s altitude is about 15,000-16,000 feet in elevation, whether you stayed at Arrow Glacier or Barafu. A gain of 3,000-4,000 feet is simply too much of an adjustment for most people. The result is that there is a high likelihood to be stricken by altitude sickness, especially during sleep. And once that occurs, a evacuation from near the top of Kilimanjaro in the middle of the night, though possible, is a burdensome task.
It is far easier on the body to climb from 15,000-16,000 feet to the summit (19,345 feet), then descend down to Mweka (10,065 feet). Clients who are affected by altitude sickness on the way up will usually recover very quickly as they descend. That is a stark contrast to what would happen if they were required to sleep at almost 19,000 feet.
Therefore, we do not use Crater Camp because of the risk involved for both clients and staff (the porters do not want to sleep up there either due to altitude sickness, extreme weather conditions, and lack of toilets).
Posted on May 28, 2008 under General, Medical, Routes, Statistics |
Earlier this month, Ultimate Kilimanjaro posted a Kilimanjaro Climb Survey on the discussion forums of Lonely Planet, Summit Post and Trip Advisor. The purpose of the survey was to collect data that could assist others who are considering climbing Kilimanjaro in their decision making.
The survey was a short 20 question, multiple choice survey, and that took people an average of just over 3 minutes to complete. As of today, there were 49 respondents. Below are the summarized results of the first 10 questions:
- male climbers outnumbered female climbers by 2 to 1
- 54% of climbers were between 31 and 40 years of age
- 22% of climbers obtained a medical check prior to climbing
- 80% of climbers obtained all recommended vaccinations, immunizations and medications
- 67% of climbers obtained travel insurance
- July was the most popular month for climbing Kilimanjaro
- 45% chose 6 day routes; 31% chose 7 day routes; 10% chose 9 day routes
- 45% climbed Machame; 20% climbed Marangu; 16% climbed Lemosho
- Only 6% of climbers hiked to Kibo Crater
- 84% of climbers reached Uhuru Point
The most surprising figure is that 84% of the respondents reached the summit, while it is widely cited that the overall summit success rate is about 50%. However, there are a few possible explanations of the rather high success rate for survey respondents. First, keep in mind that park statistics reflect that the Machame Route is slightly more popular than Marangu Route, but the respondents overwhelmingly chose Machame over Marangu (45% vs. 20%). Also, only 10% did a 5 or less day climb. The lack of respondents using Marangu and 5 or less day climbs would improve the survey’s summit success percentages tremendously.
A good percentage of people who attempt Kilimanjaro have absolutely no hiking, backpacking or high altitude experience. But the respondents on the cited forums are typically serious backpackers, independent travelers and mountaineers, all of whom have an advantage on Kilimanjaro versus their less experienced counterparts. Finally, respondents are also likely to be people who succeeded on the mountain and had a good time doing it.
Posted on Mar 12, 2008 under Medical |
Beginning on January 21, 2008, Kilimanjaro Airport reinstated health surveillance desks to enforce the Yellow Fever certificate requirement. All passengers entering from at risk areas must have been vaccinated. This includes passengers flying through Nairobi, even if they do not leave the airport.
It appears that the Tanzanian government is phasing in the certificate requirement and being somewhat lenient for now. But eventually, the certificate will be required for all passengers entering Tanzania, whether or not they are arriving from an infected area.
Tanzania itself is an infected area, and Yellow Fever is no joke. So you should get the vaccination regardless. It needs to be in the body 10 days before it is 100% effective and is good for 10 years. This is a good brochure on Yellow Fever by the US Center for Disease Control.
Yellow Fever Information
Posted on Feb 15, 2008 under Diamox, Medical |
There is no evidence that Diamox (acetzolamide) masks AMS. It is approved by the FDA as a means of preventing and/or treating AMS. Therefore if you FEEL better while on Diamox, you ARE better.
To adapt to altitude, one needs to breathe more frequently during ascent to make up for the thinning air. What Diamox does is it increases the respiratory rate, speeding up acclimatization. The manufacturer of Diamox states that in their tests, “pulmonary function (e.g., minute ventilation, expired vital capacity, and peak flow) is greater in the acetazolamide treated group, both in subjects with AMS and asymptomatic subjects. The acetazolamide treated climbers also had less difficulty sleeping.”
What the manufacturer recommends it that it be used as a preventative measure, where you would take it 24-28 hours prior to rapid ascent, and throughout your climb (until descent). But some use it as a treatment, taking it only when symptoms of AMS arise.
Most people ignore this advice, but if one plans to possibly use Diamox on the climb, it is important that he/she should take a dosage for a day or two while in the comfort of their home to see what the effects are. There are some side effects (tingling hands, increased urination, hearing loss, taste loss, upset stomach, vomiting, confusion) to taking the drug, so one should be sure their body doesn’t have an adverse reaction before getting on the mountain with it. As you can see, some of those side effects can easily be confused with AMS.
Diamox is used for other purposes, like treating glaucoma, epilepsy and fluid retention. So who knows what else these chemicals may be doing to the body besides “increasing pulmonary function.” One should not take a drug without considering all the consequences, whether good or bad. And that’s why I neither recommend it nor do I discourage it… it’s up to the climber, based on their beliefs and hopefully based on information.