Things You Might Not Know About Mount Kilimanjaro   Leave a comment

Mount Kilimanjaro is probably one of the most famous mountains in the world – it’s the highest walkable peak anywhere on the planet and thousands of people head there every year to climb it.

The First Successful Ascent

While climbing Kilimanjaro may still be an impressive feat, it’s nothing compared to what the first mountaineers went through to tackle the summit.

It occurred in October 1889, when Hans Meyer, Ludwig Purtscheller and Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo became the first people to officially reach the rim of the Kibo crater and then ascend to the Uhuru Peak – the highest point.

This was Meyer’s third attempt at scaling the mountain and the expedition party included nine porters, a guide, a cook and two local headmen – set out from Mombasa on foot – imagine walking nearly 300 km before you even started your climb!

It’s Not A Mountain …

Despite being called Mount Kilimanjaro; it is, in fact, a stratavolcano, which is comprised of three volcanic cones, the highest of which is the Kibo crater where you’ll find Uhuru Peak. Kibo is a dormant volcano, while the other two craters – Mawenzi and Shira – are extinct.

It’s been 200 years since any volcanic activity was recorded here, though, with the last major eruption occurring 360,000 years ago.

What Goes Up Must Come Down

There are six official routes to the summit, but only one of these follows the same path down. Well, the Marangu route is one to avoid if you want to have a bit more variety on your trek, as you’ll go back down the way you came up if you choose this
trail! It’s also one of the busiest paths, so look elsewhere if you want a bit of solitude on your climb.

Four of the other tracks – Machame, Shira, Lemosho and Umbwe – all share the same descent, known as the Mweka route. It’s only ever used for going down, so you’ll never meet travellers on their way up on the final days of your trek.

Record Your Memories

While you will undoubtedly come home with numerous shots of you at the summit, taking photos isn’t the only way to record your ascent.

There’s a wooden box stored at the top of Uhuru Peak where almost every traveller to have made the climb has written down their feelings about the trek.

I think it’s a lovely idea, so make sure you keep up the tradition and jot a few lines in the book for others to look back on.

Speedy Ascent: It Can Be Done!

Your climb up Kilimanjaro will probably take at least five days and, if you have time, it’s worth choosing a route that lasts for seven or eight days to give you the opportunity to fully appreciate the variety of landscapes you’ll pass on your ascent.

That said, it can be done far quicker, as Gerard Bavato proved in 2007 when he reached the Uhuru Summit in just five hours, 26 minutes and 40 seconds.

While that might be the quickest climb, Gerard didn’t manage to win the accolade of fastest round trip too – that honour goes to Kilian Jornet, a Spanish trail runner who in October 2011 set the record of the fastest run to the summit and back, in 7 hours and 14 minutes, beating the previous record holder Simon Mtuy who did the ascent and descent in 8 hours and 27 minutes.

Posted 30/07/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized

What is altitude sickness?   2 comments

Altitude sickness is a well known and common phenomenon, affecting people of all fitness levels and ages.  It commonly occurs above 2400m (8000 feet) due to exposure to the low partial pressure of oxygen at high altitude.

Altitude sickness has three forms:

1)      Mild altitude sickness is called acute mountain sickness (AMS) and is quite similar to a hangover – it causes headache, nausea, and fatigue. This is very common: some people are only slightly affected, others feel awful.

2)      HAPE (high altitude pulmonary oedema) – is excess fluid on the lungs, and causes breathlessness. It is never normal to feel breathless when you are resting – even on the summit of Everest. This should be taken as a sign that you have HAPE and may die soon. HAPE can also cause a fever (a high temperature) and coughing up frothy spit.

3)      HACE (high altitude cerebral oedema) – is fluid on the brain. It causes confusion, clumsiness, and stumbling. The first signs may be uncharacteristic behaviour such as laziness, excessive emotion or violence. Drowsiness and loss of consciousness occur shortly before death.

Treatment of HAPE and HACE

–  Immediate descent is absolutely essential

–  Dexamethasone and acetazolamide should both be given, if available

–  Pressure bags and oxygen gas can buy time

What causes altitude sickness?

Two things are certain to make altitude sickness very likely – ascending faster than 500m per day, and exercising vigourously. Physically fit individuals are not protected – even Olympic athletes get altitude sickness. Altitude sickness happens because there is less oxygen in the air than at high altitudes.

Altitude sickness prevention

Go up slowly, take it easy, and give your body time to get used to the altitude. The body has an amazing ability to acclimatise to altitude, but it needs time. For instance, it takes about a week to adapt to an altitude of 5000m.

Ensure you are acclimatised before you head to altitude. You can now acclimatise to altitudes equivalent to the top of Mount Everest from the comfort of your own home giving you the most effective preparation before you step foot on the plane.

Please help us to spread this information as widely as possible. Everyone who travels to high altitude should know this. Following these simple rules could prevent many deaths in the mountains each year.

Posted 19/06/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized

5 Kilimanjaro Accessories you haven’t thought about…   Leave a comment

1.    Snood

Some of you may be asking ‘What on earth is a snood!?’ Well it is very similar to a scarf and is made out of a breathable material that wraps around your nose and mouth comfortably and provides a couple of benefits. The first, keeping your face warm in the strong, cold winds at certain points of the climb. Secondly, and most importantly on the way down you will find the land to be very dry and dusty. As you fly down the mountain the dust will do its upmost to get in your mouth and nose…your snood is your greatest defence!

2.    High factor lip sunblock

We have all burnt our lips at some point on holiday, or even when the unexpected heat hits Britain. At the top of Kilimanjaro you are nearly 6000m closer to the sun than the most of Britain, which means although you may feel cold the suns strong rays will still be torturing your skin and lips. I couldn’t recommend this highly enough!

3.    Wet wipes

It isn’t often you hear the statement ‘You cannot have enough wet wipes’, but it is amazing how often we hear this from clients when they come back from summiting. 5-8 days without a shower and quite a few days without any form of toilet…wet wipes will undoubtedly become your best friend before even your own nose turns against you. As one of our most recent Kilimanjaro summiter so eloquently put it, “Wet wipes were essential to my ‘gentlemans wash’”.

 4.    Walking Poles

Walking poles, they simply seem like two sticks and could easily be overlooked as you try to work out which stuff to leave at home with your mountain of gear. Please don’t…they take so much pressure off your knees on the way down you will be so thankful. They also double up as great leaning poles as the thinner air starts to take hold of your lungs and your energy dwindles.

 5.    4 season sleeping bag

Sleeping on the side of a mountain with your heart racing as the altitude has its effects is not easy at the best of times. Your sleep is vital for your body to recover and you will need every minute you can get to give you energy for the next days hiking. With the constant and ever changing climate and weather on Kilimanjaro a 4 season sleeping bag is essential to getting a reasonable night’s sleep.

Kilimanjaro Summit   Leave a comment

Kilimanjaro Summit

This is what you used to be able to look forward to as you staggered to the summit of Kilimanjaro….not anymore! There is a new sign. Thoughts?

Posted 31/05/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized

5 Tips you haven’t thought about in your Kilimanjaro preparation   Leave a comment

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro will take you out of your comfort zone by testing your endurance, fitness and mental strength. You will have no doubt received advice from a variety of sources online and people you know, on how to conquer the largest mountain in Africa. This article is here to make you think about the aspects of your climb you probably have not thought about, yet these tips will make your experience much more enjoyable. So here we go, our top 5 tips for your Kilimanjaro preparation……

1.    Break-in your walking boots

I recommend to break-in a good pair of boots before the climb, otherwise you will have blisters and sores in all sorts of places. When you first buy your boots start on short walks and build up the mileage to get your feet used to them and bed them in. The more miles you have in your boots before your trip the more comfortable they will be and the more your feet will love you at the end of each day (minimum 6 months).

If your climb is getting closer and you do not have the time to break-in your boots I would strongly recommend moulded insoles, which give your feet more support and help prevent pain and tingles from long hikes. I highly recommend fitting a pair into your boots before the trek and testing them out.

2.    Take a Pack of Cards

Cards certainly won’t be on your essentials list, I would suggest that changes. The days of trekking can seem quite long, but some nights you will reach camp by 7pm and sleeping at altitude can be very difficult. A pack of cards will not only help you wind down, but they will also help build team spirit and unity within your group, which will be essential for the last push up the mountain. There are lots of people to invite to play too: your guides, your cooks, and your soiree of porters. It’s a great way to get to know them, their stories, and their culture, as well as learning new card tricks to test on unsuspecting victims back home.

3.    Pack Light and for All Conditions

Great news… you will definitely see some sun! Unfortunately, you will also experience every other season, especially the freezing cold! I’m afraid this means you will have to pack for all occasions. If finances are a bit tight never be afraid to ask friends whether they know anyone who has been, as a lot of the gear is unlikely to be used again. Failing this, you can rent a lot of your kit from your tour guide.

Packing light is much easier said than done, your porters will be very thankful for it though. These people are, in my mind some of the fittest people on the planet, they fly up and down the mountain like nothing on earth. They will fly past you carrying your mini-mountain of accessories and you will only feel guilty if you give them too much to carry.

4.    Maintain Motivation

Everyone climbs Kilimanjaro for different reasons; some for self-fulfillment, others to raise money for a fantastic cause, and the vast majority for a combination of the two. What motivates each person on the journey is different, but at some point either through sheer exhaustion, mental fatigue or altitude sickness you will question yourself and how on earth you are going to continue. There is no shame in this, you are pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and your body to its limits. I would suggest finding something unique for you to use for motivation for when you hit the odd low spell, whether it is a motivational quote, a picture of a loved one or something more left-field, that item could make all the difference to the success of your trip.

 5.    Prepare for the Descent

Summit day is extreme and an emotional rollercoaster. This is the day you are thankful for all of the preparation you have done. Sure, getting to the summit is tough, but you never think about getting back down Kilimanjaro. You are emotionally drained and have put in everything to get to the top in the past 5-8 days… now you are going all the way back down in only two days. Whilst the problem of altitude will alleviate as you descend, you will need plenty of energy and I would recommend walking poles to take some of your body weight off your knees on the way back down. You will also get your sense of taste back and appreciate how nice the food your chef has been cooking was the whole time.

Posted 27/05/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized

Welcome to AcclimatiseMe’s Altitude Blog!   Leave a comment

My name is Chris Hale and I am the managing director of AcclimatiseMe, a simulated altitude training company preparing you for altitude from the comfort of your own home.

Firstly, thank you for reading, we really hope you enjoy the content and it makes you think…
This blog will cover a wide range of topics from top tips to reach the summit of Kilimanjaro, to altitude training in sports and some more left-field topics.

More about me…. I am a sport scientist who studied at the University of Birmingham and I have been working in the altitude training field for 3 years. I have been lucky enough to work with elite athletes and helping them reach peak performance and speed up injury recovery. Most of my time however, is spent with people heading to altitude, usually for the first time.  It always amazes me how little people know about altitude and how much they take it for granted before their trip. This is the main reason of this blog, to educate people on the powerful impact of altitude both in a positive and negative sense. I hope you keep reading and I get to know a few of you along the way!

If you have any suggestions to what you would like to read, or if you would like to write an article for the blog, please get in touch. We are very friendly. You can reach me at Chris@acclimatiseme.com or on twitter @acclimatiseme
All the best,

Chris

Posted 27/05/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized

Hello world!   Leave a comment

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!

Posted 22/05/2012 by acclimatiseme in Uncategorized