Suggested Climb Preparation for Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is usually a “once in a lifetime” experience for most people, so is vital that proper preparations are made beforehand. With superior information and sufficient time to prepare, you stand an extremely good chance of reaching the summit.
Mount Kilimanjaro can be climbed at any time of year but seasonal variations in climate and traffic need to be considered :
January, February and March have the best weather, being warm and almost devoid of cloud.
April through to mid June is still warm but there may be some rainfall on the lower slopes and bands of cloud may reduce visibility around the forest area.
Late June, July and August can become very cold at night but in return, the sky is usually completely clear above 3,000m.
September to October are perhaps the best months to plan a climb for this next year with steadily increasing temperatures with low rainfall.
November and December are for the more adventurous climbers. Thunderstorms are possible in the afternoon and there can be heavy snow showers towards the summit but night and early morning bring excellent visibility.
Although the majority of routes leading to the summit of Kilimanjaro require no technical climbing skills, some kind of training beforehand is important. It is important to remember that you will be hiking on surfaces with varying angles which may put lots of stress on your ankles and knees. It is also worth remembering that most of the injuries which occur on Kilimanjaro happen on the way down. When climbing Kilimanjaro, take a slow pace to allow your body to acclimatize to the altitude, as at 4000 meters, you only have 60% of the oxygen you would normally have at sea-level.
To climb Kilimanjaro:
– You need to be in decent physical condition.
– You must not have heart or lung problems.
– You need healthy knees and ankles.
– Take your time and know your physical limitations.
Consult your personal physician if:
– You are taking any kind of medication.
– You have any other health problems.
If you plan to take any medication during your climb, you must consult your doctor prior to departure. The effects of medications may vary with altitude and stress.
All climbers should consult their doctor or a specialized travel clinic well in advance of their trip.
Although Kilimanjaro is not a technical mountain climb, it is a major challenge and the rigors of altitude should not be underestimated. Remember that Uhuru Peak is 500m higher than Everest Base Camp! The pace of your ascent coupled with good acclimatization will help you on the climb but it is essential to be mentally and physically prepared before you start. Regular hikes are one of the best ways to prepare, increasing frequency and length as you get closer to the trek. All aerobic exercises such as; cycling, running, swimming and funnily enough aerobics are good for strengthening the cardiovascular system. Generally, any exercise that increases the heart rate for 20 minutes is helpful but don’t over do it just before the climb.
Any climber who suffers from any cardiac or pulmonary problems should be cautious and should not attempt to climb the mountain unless they have consulted their physician. It is strongly recommended that a physical fitness program is followed to prepare your self physically for the mountain.
The following three steps are a guide to achieving acclimatization:
Water : A fluid intake of 4 – 5 liters per day is recommended. Fluid intake improves circulation and most other bodily functions, but does not increase fluid leakage from the body. Thirst should not be an indicator of proper fluid intake, if your urine is clear then you are drinking enough. On the lower slopes, bottled mineral water will be provided but on the higher slopes drinking water is taken from mountain streams. The water is double-pumped and iodine is added for purification (Good enough to drink but you may wish to add extra purification tablets).
Slow Walk : Pace is a critical factor on all routes. Unless there is a very steep uphill section your breathing rate should be the same as if you were walking down the street. If you cannot hold a conversation you are walking too fast. Breathing through the nose for the first 2 days of the climb will limit the pace. Walk “softly” allowing your knees to gently cushion each pace. “Pole pole” (go slowly) is the phrase of the day.
Walk high sleep low : If you have enough energy, take an afternoon stroll further up the mountain before descending to sleep (not if you have any symptoms of altitude sickness!)
Almost all routes offer an extra day for acclimatization. Taking this day increases your chances of getting to the top by 30% and increases you chances of actually getting some enjoyment out of the experience by much more than that. An extra day is a considerable expense, but Bobby Tours’ recommends that all climbers take this option.
Some climbers take Diamox, which is widely used to combat the effects of mild altitude sickness by causing the body to breath more deeply during sleep. This is of course a personal preference.
On the climb, guides carry all basic medications but it is recommend that all climbers should take a small, personal first aid kit.
Personal First Aid Kit:
– Painkillers (aspirin/paracetamol – aspirin is recommended as it thins the blood helping prevent blood clots – strong painkillers should not be taken as they may mask the symptoms of altitude sickness)
– Blister treatment
– Imodium or other anti-Diarrhoea tablets
– Plasters/Band Aids
– Antiseptic wipes
– Dressings, especially pressure relief for blisters
– Talcum Powder
– Malaria tablets
– Sun block for skin & lips (Factor 15+)
– Knee supports etc.
– Lemsip or other cold cure sachets
– Oral rehydration salts/sachets
– Insect repellent containing DEET
– Sanitary Towels or similar
Other health tips:
Ladies please note that altitude may affect the menstrual cycle.
All contact lens wearers should take care to remove the lenses at night as the eye needs to absorb oxygen from the atmosphere. The rarefied conditions of altitude reduce oxygen levels and in extreme cases a Corneal Oedema can develop.
In the event of an emergency on the mountain the rescue team plus one of the assistant guides will descend with the casualty to the park gate. At the gate, Bobby Tours And Safaris will take over and make the necessary arrangements.