Climbing Kilimanjaro is probably one of the most dangerous things our eclectic group of climbers will ever do. Every year, roughly 1000 people are evacuated from the mountain, and approximately 10 deaths are reported. If you include unreported deaths (mostly porters working for disreputable tour operators) it’s believed the actual number of deaths could be two to three times higher than that!
So what makes the mountain so lethal? Rock falls and apocalyptic weather aside, it’s altitude sickness.
Contrary to popular belief, this potentially deadly condition has absolutely nothing to do with physical fitness and no amount of training can protect against it. So, although many of our climbers have trained at altitude gyms prior to the climb, that’s no guarantee they’ll make it. Below 1500m, there’s virtually no chance you’ll be affected, but as the altitude increases, so to do the chances of altitude sickness and becomes very common at altitudes over 2400m. The most common early warning signs are:
- rapid heart rate
- loss of appetite
- difficulty sleeping
If climbers become visibly clumsy or pass out, then it’s a sign things are really starting to get serious. If left untreated, the lack of oxygen causes the brain to swell and the lungs to fill with fluid, which ultimately leads to death.
Here’s Dr. Chris Samuel on how altitude sickness will impact the climbers on Charlie’s Million$Mission.