Kili Charity Trekkers At Risk
Around 75 per-cent of charity trekking trips to Africa's highest mountain allow inadequate time on the mountain for acclimatisation putting participants at serious risk says Mountaineering Medical Conference
Posted: 2 October 2006
Charity trekkers heading for Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak,
are at unnecessary risk of suffering from potentially fatal altitude
sickness according to a recent Mountaineering Medical Conference.
A report by British outdoor writer Ed Douglas, found only one in 20
charity treks looked at 'came close to meeting standard medical
advice on trekking at high altitude'.
Trekkers tackling the 5895-metre peak to raise money for charity
are given inadequate time to acclimatise to the altitude of the
mountain leading to almost inevitable periods of AMS (Acute Mountain
Sickness) which can be fatal.
Of 20 charity treks studied, 15, or 75%, planned for just four
nights above 2500m. That's despite doctors specialising in
high-altitude medicine recommending trekkers should ideally spend 7 -
9 nights above 2500 metres to safely reach the summit of Kilimanjaro
and gain no more than 300-500 metres a day to stay safe.
Douglas, who has longstanding concerns over the situation on Kili
is critical of the organisers of these trips:
"Realistic advice about the problems and risks of high altitude
was either absent or buried in almost all cases," he says. "Trekkers
should understand that climbing Kilimanjaro is safer and a lot more
fun if they take their time. They also have a much higher chance of
reaching the summit. I wouldn't want to have to reach the summit with
fewer than six or seven nights' acclimatisation."
At the root of the problem appears to be the daily peak fee of
more than $100 per day charged by the Tanzanian government which
encourages trekkers and operators to spend as little time on the
mountain as possible to save money. One possible solution is to
acclimatise on nearby Mount Meru or Mount Kenya before tackling
Keep On Trekking
The BMC's medical adviser David Hillebrand is keen to stress that
the organisation isn't trying to discourage charity trekkers:
"We just want trekkers to understand that there are risks
associated with being at high altitude and they would be well advised
to take a bit longer over their trip. That not only makes it more
enjoyable, but could ensure that their 'trip of a lifetime' does not
become exactly that."
Between January 1996 and October 2003 some 25 tourists died on
Kilimanjaro with countless others suffering from Acute Mountain
Sickness on the mountain.
You can find extensive information about altitude and the body at
plus the full news
report from the conference.