Preparing For Kilimanjaro Climb

Mount Kilimanjaro is a popular site for recreational hikers and climbers seeking to conquer the Seven Summits, the seven tallest mountains on each continent. With a summit of 19,340 feet, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa, and climbers heading to the top will need to be prepared for the rigors of high-altitude trekking. As you prepare for your trip to Africa, you need to start training for the Mt. Kilimanjaro climb as early as possible; quality preparation can make the difficult hike more comfortable and will reduce your likelihood of getting injured on the mountain.

Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a physical challenge which is well within the reach of most people who enjoy a reasonable standard of fitness. However, training specifically for the climb is essential to prepare you for the particular pitfalls posed by mountain walking.  You are strongly advised to seek medical advice before deciding to arrange your climb and before starting a training program, particularly if you have any concerns about your health.

It is very important that your body is properly prepared for the physical challenge of the Kilimanjaro. The better prepared you are, the better you plan to conquer the highest point of Africa. Good preparation will make a significant contribution to your own confidence and your mental strength.

As you prepare, you need to take heed of the following

WHILE ON THE MOUNTAIN

STEP 1: Pace yourself
Because the hiking is straightforward, many climbers ascend too fast and become susceptible to altitude illness. The Swahili saying “Pole Pole” should be taken literally; use the trekking poles to slow the ascent.

STEP 2: Drink plenty of water
This is very important to anyone climbing Kilimanjaro with intention of successful hike. You have to stay hydrated, this helps with better acclimatization. While it is possible to drink water directly from streams, it is safer to filter it first.

STEP 3: Climb high, sleep low, to help with acclimatization
Especially early in the trip. After setting up camp for the night, hike higher to get used to the altitude before descending back to camp.

STEP 4: Plan to wear light clothing at the lower altitudes
At the start of the climb it is important to use more technical clothing like polypropylene underwear, fleece and Gore-Tex shells as you ascend higher. Wear a hat as it gets colder, as you lose up to 90 percent of body heat through your head.

STEP 5: Use fresh batteries in your headlamp for summit day
when climbers start at night to reach the summit by sunrise.

KILIMANJARO CLIMBING GEARS

Hiking/mountaineering boots
Trekking poles
Backpack
Water filter
Two water bottles
Headlamp
Gore-Tex jacket/pants
Fleece jacket/pants
Polypropylene underwear
Glacier sunglasses
Hat
Gloves/Mittens
Hiking socks
Shorts
Sleeping bag rated to 0 degrees
Tent (depending on route)

KILIMANJARO MEDICAL PREPARATION
There are a number of vaccinations that you should get before you travel to Tanzania to climb the tallest mountain. We recommend you check with your local GP or travel clinic which vaccinations you require. Below we have briefly outlined the main vaccinations you should get. Get your vaccinations. Check with the CDC for current recommendations, which sometimes change. As of 2010, the list includes DTP, Hep A, Hep B, MMR, polio, rabies, typhoid, and yellow fever. Also the medical kit to that is important to take with you up Kilimanjaro should include the following:

  • Antiseptic cream For small cuts and grazes.
  • Plasters Ditto.
  • Bandages Useful for twists and sprains as well as for larger flesh wounds.
  • Compeed For blisters.
  • Elastic knee supports For steeper gradients, particularly if you have knee problems.
  • Anti-malarials Though you’re highly unlikely to catch malaria on the mountain (you’ll be above the anopheles mosquito’s maximum altitude for nearly all the trek), if you’re on a course of anti-malarials you should continue taking them.
  • Ibuprofen/Aspirin/Paracetamol Or other painkillers, though do read the discussion on AMS in this website and the medical indications in the packet before scoffing these.
  • Bismuth subsalicylate The active ingredient in Pepto-bismol, which could be useful for settling upset stomachs.
  • Imodium Stops you going when you don’t want to go, which could come in handy.
  • Insect repellent Useful on the first and last day, though above the tree-line the climate is too cold for most insects to survive.
  • Rehydrating powders Such as Diarolyte. Usually prescribed to people suffering from diarrhoea but useful after a hot day’s trekking as well.
  • Lip salve or chapstick/vaseline Useful for that nighttime haul to the summit, where the wind will rip the skin from your lips.
  • Throat pastilles Useful, as the dry, dusty air causes many a sore throat.
  • Any current medication you are on Bring with you all your needles, pills, lotions, potions and pungent unguents.
  • Diamox Diamox is the brand name for Acetazolamide, the drug that fights AMS and which many people use prophylactically on Kilimanjaro. To help you decide whether you want to bring some of these with you.
  • Sterile needles If you are having an injection in Tanzania, insist that the doctor uses your new needles. Carry everything in a waterproof bag or case, and keep at least the emergency stuff in your daypack – where hopefully it will lie undisturbed for the trek’s duration.
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