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Altitude sickness is avoidable. The only surefire way to to do is to take your time climbing Kilimanjaro. Opting to save money by climbing the mountain as quickly as possible is a false economy: the chances are you will have to turn back because of altitude sickness and all your efforts (and money) will be wasted. According to the Expedition Advisory Committee at the Royal Geographical Society, the recommended acclimatization period for any altitude greater than 2500m is to sleep no more than 300m higher than your previous night’s camp, and to spend an extra night at every third camp.
But if you were to follow this on the Kilimanjaro’s Marangu Route, for example, from
Mandara Huts you would have to take a further eight nights in order to safely adjust
to the Kibo Huts’ altitude of 4700m -
The EAC realize that the short distances and high per diem cost of climbing Kilimanjaro
make this lengthy itinerary impractical, so instead they recommend a pre-
This is an excellent idea if you have the time and are feeling fit, and providing
you do one of these walks immediately before you climb Kili, these treks can be beneficial
But what if you don’t have the time or money to do these other climbs? The answer is to plan your walk on Kilimanjaro as carefully as possible. If you have enough money for a ‘rest day’ or two, take them.
These ‘rest days’ are not actually days of rest at all -
The route you take is also important. Some of the routes -
Some of the shorter trails, however, do not: for example, it is possible for a trekker walking at an average pace on the Marangu or Rongai trails to reach the Kibo Huts in three days and attempt an assault on the summit for that third night. This sort of schedule is entirely too rapid, allowing insufficient time for trekkers to adapt to the new conditions prevalent at the higher altitude.
This is why the majority of people fail on these trails and it is also the reason why, particularly on these shorter trails, that it is imperative that you take a ‘rest day’ on the way up: to give your body more time to acclimatize.
How you approach the walk is important too. Statistically, men are more likely to suffer from AMS than women, with young men the most vulnerable. The reason is obvious. The competitive streak in most young men causes them to walk faster than the group; that, and the mistaken belief that greater fitness and strength (which most men, mistakenly or otherwise, believe they have) will protect them against AMS. But AMS is no respecter of fitness or health.
Indeed, many experienced mountaineers believe the reverse is true: the less fit you are, the slower you will want to walk, and thus the greater chance you have of acclimatizing properly.
The best advice, then, is to go as slowly as possible. Let your guide be the pacemaker:
do not be tempted to hare off ahead of him, but stick with him. That way you can
keep a sensible pace -
There are other things you can do that may or may not reduce the chance of getting AMS. One is to eat well: fatigue is said to be a major contributor to AMS, so try to keep energy levels up by eating as much as you can.
Dehydration can exacerbate AMS too, so it is vital that you drink every few minutes
when walking; for this reason, one of the new platypus-
Although there hasn’t been a serious study on this subject, many people swear that carrying your own rucksack increases your chance of succumbing to AMS. Certainly, in my experience, this is true, so, finally, hire a porter to carry your baggage (the agencies will assume you want this anyway unless you specify otherwise.
|What is AMS/altitude sickness|
|The symptoms of altitude sickness|
|HACO (HACE) and HAPO (HAPE)|
|How to avoid altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro|
|How to treat altitude sickness on Kilimanjaro|
|Other Kilimanjaro health problems|