Some tips before starting
Never go too fast - a steady pace is vital. It is important to not to push yourself because these very high altitudes require twice as much effort and recovery time than on the first slopes and very early on into the trek, you are at a higher altitude than you have ever been.Almost all climbers suffer from the lack of oxygen and problems related to air pressure differences. The daylight hours are more than long enough for you to take your time on each daily stage. Take long strides following a regular momentum in time with your breathing.
Warning: Youngsters and sporty people are among those at most risk from altitude problems leading to actual mountain sickness because they tend to keep up their efforts without tiredness setting in.
Altitude sickness - headache, insomnia, nausea, cerebral and/or pulmonary oedema symptoms occur with hallucinations and in spitting blood. Some climbers obtain Diamox from their Doctor but medical advice must be taken as medicines can mask symptoms
It is essential to take on a lot of fluid, at least 3 litres of water per day. If the early symptoms persist, it is imperative to inform the Guide and descend immediately, even at night (accompanied by a Guide) This cannot be emphasised enough - it is a question of survival. To prevent blisters: wear two pairs of woolen socks and, at the same time, put large pieces of Elastoplast strips on the areas at risk, heels etc. To avoid friction, carry Compeed patches.
When to climb
Most climbers avoid the period from late March to late May because of the rains - although because of its huge bulk, rising nearly 5,000m., straight up from the plains, the massif attracts its “own weather” and there can be rain up through the montane forest, on the plateaux and cloud and fog at any season.
Do not go too fast or otherwise exert yourself and retain your strength for the final climb, as the altitude requires 2 times as much effort and time to recovery more than the early slopes. Stages are not required (1000 m of uneven surfaces), you must fully take your time.
Always breathe through the nose in the early stages as this slows you down but at higher altitudes, you should breathe more often through the mouth in the later stages which helps you to get oxygen.
Beware of the cold at high altitudes, the temperature drops very sharply before sunrise and cloud and thick fog often obscure the sun.
Do a well-organised and safe trek : the quality of guiding, tents and meals is the key to success. There are many very poorly organised and equipped organisations vying for your custom.
- A pair of water/dustproof walking boots, if possible, already worn in
- A pair of light sports trainers for the early stages for the evenings, after trek
- A large duffle-style kitbag for your personal gear - backpacks are impractical for Porters
- A small backpack (20 litres) for your own things for the day (picnic, camera, sunscreen, water bottle, etc.)
- A very warm sleeping bag to withstand temperatures down to - 10 ° C
- An anorak or a down or polar jacket
- A rain cape
- One or two good pullovers
- Waterproof mountain trousers
- A pair of shorts for first couple of days
- A pair of mittens or mountain gloves
- A pair of silk glovesT-shirts, shirts, pair of socks (wear 2 pairs of thin socks rather than 1 thick), spare underwear
- A sun-hat
- A bonnet or a balaclava
- A pair of sunglasses (effective for snow & ice & very bright reflection)
- One or two telescopic sticks with hand-straps
- A pair of gaiters against dust, gravel and mud
- A survival blanket
- A headtorch (or, if none, a torch) with spare alkaline batteries
- A water bottle (1 or 2 litres)
- Toiletries (neither too heavy nor too bulky – take off warapping)
- Plastic bags to insulate your things from rain and damp
- Your camera (with spare batteries)
- A penknife