Mt Kilimanjaro is one of the world’s most climbable high altitude mountains in the world. You won’t need technical mountaineering skills, but you should keep in your mind that climbing Mt Kilimanjaro is about mental and physical preparedness. Being physically prepared for the trek should begin as early as possible. As your fitness level increases, your mental confidence will also increase. The combination will make a world of difference to your enjoyment of the climb and your sense of achievement.
The main concern when climbing Kilimanjaro is altitude sickness. This condition is an acid-alkali imbalance in the blood and body fluids which affects climbers indiscriminately. Whatever your level of fitness, it may not reduce your chances of getting some degree of altitude sickness because almost everyone does – mild headache, nausea, tiredness, loss of appetite are common symptoms.
For your safety you should definitely not be climbing at altitude against your doctor’s advice. You should not climb at altitude if you have sickle cell disease, recurrent pneumothorax (burst lung), pregnant (above 3,500m), a respiratory problem, sore throat, cold, cough, increased temperature or a nose bleed. People who have had laser surgery for short sight may experience vision changes (over 4,500m).
There are no hard and fast rules about who will be affected by these illnesses. Some Himalayan experts who have been climbing for years can experience altitude sickness; meanwhile, inexperienced climbers going high for the first time might feel fine all the way to the top of Kilimanjaro.
The major illnesses are outlined below, but these are such serious issues you should research these ailments further on your own.
- Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
- High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
- High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
- Hypothermia and Frostbite