Health & Safety
Illness & Injury
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a significant danger when climbing or trekking at altitude. Extreme AMS can lead to pulmonary adema, a killer.
Other names for this condition are altitude sickness or high altitude pulmonary edema. It typically occurs at about 8,000 feet, or 2,400 meters, above sea level. Dizziness, nausea, headaches, and shortness of breath are a few symptoms of this condition. Most instances of altitude sickness are mild and heal quickly.
(1) Stop immediately and rest where you are. (2) don’t go any higher for at least 24-48 hours (3) if you have a headache, take ibuprofen or paracetamol (4) if you feel sick, take an anti-sickness medication, like promethazine (5) make sure you’re drinking enough water (6) avoid alcohol, smoking and exercise. (7) 250mg of Diamox may be taken during the 24-48 hour rest spell
No-one wants to be helicoptered off the mountain or have to be stretchered down the mountain but in extreme cases it has to happen. Make sure your insurance covers on and off mountain recovery and medical treatment.
Statistically the most common trek injuries (ahead of knee problems) include foot and toe blisters often caused by slack boots, new boots or inappropriate socks. I was advised to have ladies nylon “pop socks” but didn’t go through with it, but having a thin tight undersock and a thicker warmer trekking sock is preferable. Blisters are like toothache in the foot. Your brain seems to be unable to turn its attention to anything else. Take blister care kits as blisters seriously spoil your fun.
Knee pain is likely to be exacerbated on the descent parts of the trek as more weight and stress is put on the knee. If you already suffer or suspect bad knees, take a brace. Descents also push toes against front of boots eventually dislodging the nail. Ouch!
Yes, the dreaded runs can strike at any time so minimise the chances. Carry handwash, ensure all water has been filtered and eat only hot basic foods.
Don’t forget that pre-trek and through rainforest mosquitos are waiting to drink your blood. Be vaccinated and take your pills before you leave home.