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Old 09-29-2016, 09:41 AM   #21
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Old 09-29-2016, 10:31 AM   #22
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My old boss bought some sort of oxygen deprivation tent to use before he went on the trip, which I thought was a little over the top, but I guess it helped.

DH had some fairly average altitude sickness in Cusco, Peru. I didn't get hit with it at all until we were on the altiplano, at higher elevations, and I think it was brought on by cold and dehydration more than anything else. I took one dose of diamox and a lot of water and was better soon. It would have been way worse had we been hiking rather than mototaxiing!
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:01 AM   #23
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In addition to the Rongai route, which provides good acclimatization, you might want to look into the Northern Circuit route, which is a 9 day climb with even better acclimatization. A description of the route can be found at ultimatekilimanjaro.com and they claim this route has the highest rate of success in reaching the summit. Going slowly is the best defense against altitude sickness but some will get it anyway and have to descend - it is just so high!

DH has wanted to do this for a long time, but I have some respiratory issues and had a hard enough time hiking Mt. Elbert in Colorado, so I have declined (he could go by himself or with another friend if he wanted to).
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:07 AM   #24
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Agreed. The trip we're looking at uses the longer Rongai route instead of the more popular Marangu or Machame routes. It also takes seven days to include plenty of acclimatization stops.

We're going to hike a couple of easy 14ers next week just to see if we still have what it takes. If that works out, we'll probably schedule the Kilimanjaro trip.

Thanks for all the advice and encouragement.
Not sure what 14'ers you are going to do in a couple weeks, but out here in Colorado some of them already have become technical climbs due to ice and snow at the top.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:18 AM   #25
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Just out of curiosity, would skiing some of the higher areas in Colorado (like Breckenridge, ~ 12,000 ft) for many hours straight with no problems give a good indication as to whether or not someone would face any sort of serious altitude sickness going up Kilimanjaro? In other words, would being fine for extended periods in the 10-12,000 foot range translate to being able to handle 14-19,000 feet reasonably well?
It's an indication, but not a very strong one. As an anecdote: I've never had issues up to 13k ft or so, yet at 14k on mount Kenya had rather heavy headaches - not fun.

Other time I went up to 18k (highest I ever got, in Nepal), no altitude sickness to speak of. It's quite unpredictable.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:22 AM   #26
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It's an indication, but not a very strong one. As an anecdote: I've never had issues up to 13k ft or so, yet at 14k on mount Kenya had rather heavy headaches - not fun.

Other time I went up to 18k (highest I ever got, in Nepal), no altitude sickness to speak of. It's quite unpredictable.
I would agree with your assessment. I live in Colorado and have zero issues with altitude...until about 13,000 feet. The headache sets in, appetite goes south. It is even worse for my wife. It hits her at about 12,000 feet.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:26 AM   #27
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In addition to the Rongai route, which provides good acclimatization, you might want to look into the Northern Circuit route, which is a 9 day climb with even better acclimatization. A description of the route can be found at ultimatekilimanjaro.com and they claim this route has the highest rate of success in reaching the summit. Going slowly is the best defense against altitude sickness but some will get it anyway and have to descend - it is just so high!

DH has wanted to do this for a long time, but I have some respiratory issues and had a hard enough time hiking Mt. Elbert in Colorado, so I have declined (he could go by himself or with another friend if he wanted to).
Just found out that my 60+ friend took the Lemosho (slower) route but still got bad altitude sickness. He did make it to the top.

Lemosho Route | The best route to Climb Kilimanjaro
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:35 AM   #28
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I was deployed to Africa several years ago and had the opportunity to safari and climb Mt K. I took advantage of the safari but passed on the hike. Several friends (military in fairly good shape) experienced various physical affects such as severe headaches, nausea, foot blisters and torn toenails on the descent, etc. Their hikes were quick up and quick down with only a short time at altitude to minimize sickness. It just didn't sound like a fun time to me.
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Old 09-29-2016, 11:43 AM   #29
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My old boss bought some sort of oxygen deprivation tent to use before he went on the trip, which I thought was a little over the top, but I guess it helped.

DH had some fairly average altitude sickness in Cusco, Peru. I didn't get hit with it at all until we were on the altiplano, at higher elevations, and I think it was brought on by cold and dehydration more than anything else. I took one dose of diamox and a lot of water and was better soon. It would have been way worse had we been hiking rather than mototaxiing!
I purchased a training mask that simulates breathing from various altitudes. It is useful for training the lungs to cope with smaller amounts of oxygen. Not sure it directly reduces altitude sickness though.

I purchased the mask for use in training for a marathon at higher altitude and thought it was effective for this purpose. Wear it while running outside (gets weird looks from observers) or while on a treadmill. I would definitely use it to prepare for a hike like Kilamanjaro. Just wearing it while watching TV would be helpful.
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Old 09-29-2016, 12:15 PM   #30
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My old boss bought some sort of oxygen deprivation tent to use before he went on the trip, which I thought was a little over the top, but I guess it helped.
IIRC, a number of Olympic athletes used those to prepare for the Mexico City Olympics.

But living at altitude definitely gives an edge. Long ago when I lived at around 7,000 feet, I would occasionally visit my parents in NYC. Whenever I did that, I always went for a long run with an old friend who was always stronger and faster than I was. Kept up with him easily, much to his surprise.

But I lost the conditioning after a week at sea level and it took a couple of weeks back at altitude to get it back.
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Old 09-29-2016, 01:34 PM   #31
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In my youth I climbed Rainier a few times. Predicting who would have trouble after 12k was impossible. A few very aerobically fit people got sick and some average joes did just fine.

I say go for it. One thing I do remember is how hard it was for people to gauge their level of hydration, which can hammer you if you don't keep up.
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Old 09-29-2016, 01:42 PM   #32
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Long ago when I lived at around 7,000 feet, I would occasionally visit my parents in NYC. Whenever I did that, I always went for a long run with an old friend who was always stronger and faster than I was. Kept up with him easily, much to his surprise.

But I lost the conditioning after a week at sea level and it took a couple of weeks back at altitude to get it back.
Eons ago, (before people caught on), it was apparently not unheard of for racehorse owners to train their animals in New Zealand, at higher altitudes, then fly them into Australia immediately before a race.

Regulations were subsequently implemented which mandated that any such horses had to be transferred to Oz a couple/few weeks before an event.
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Old 10-01-2016, 07:29 AM   #33
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+1



Just out of curiosity, would skiing some of the higher areas in Colorado (like Breckenridge, ~ 12,000 ft) for many hours straight with no problems give a good indication as to whether or not someone would face any sort of serious altitude sickness going up Kilimanjaro? In other words, would being fine for extended periods in the 10-12,000 foot range translate to being able to handle 14-19,000 feet reasonably well?

In my experience, it wasn't a good indication. I had climbed a 14er and a few 13ers with no problem and I live in Colorado. And I was skiing 20+ days a year at the time. Then on my 2nd 14er, I got horrific altitude sickness - so sick and hallucinating. It was shocking. Luckily DH helped me down and I was much better once we got below about 12,000'. I am good up until about 12,500' or so but not so good after that now.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:07 AM   #34
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A friend of mine in his late 40's climbed it last year. He's in relatively good physical condition - plays softball regularly, climbed a variety of other mountains, but nothing that high.

I think he made it to the top but not without significant altitude sickness - pretty serious in his case, I'm told. I don't think he was hospitalized but he required professional medical treatment.

I think the challenge would be a great bucket list item and I urge you to do it. However, it may be worth buying a temporary medical insurance package that provides air transport and other emergency services. Not certain about the price of such insurance but I think it's on the order of hundreds of dollars for a short term policy.

Best wishes. Sounds awesome!
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Old 10-02-2016, 09:51 AM   #35
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Sticking with the Travel Channel on this one...
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Old 10-05-2016, 02:30 PM   #36
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A close friend did it a few years ago. She said "it was a long time without a shower and all about the altitude". Not really a travel destination as you live pretty rough for the period it takes. More a personal challenge. She was a fit 50 something. Not on my bucket list.
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Old 10-05-2016, 05:27 PM   #37
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I think the trip is off our radar now.

Last Sunday we attempted a modest 14er (Mt. Democrat) that is fairly easy (just hiking, not climbing) and the weather was perfectly beautiful. I have done Democrat several times, the last being about 10-12 years ago. This was DW's first attempt.

Despite the perfect conditions, we only made it to about 13,000 feet before deciding to turn around. We carried a pulse oximeter to check our blood oxygen levels, and it was getting down to dangerous levels, plus we were developing headaches. Much to my surprise, DW handled the altitude better than I did (at least according to the oximeter).

We figured that if 13,000 was that much of a challenge (we're both in very good shape for our ages), then 19,341 was going to be too much of a push.

Anyway, thanks to all for the excellent advice and encouragement, but the bucket list still has a lot of items on it!
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Old 10-05-2016, 05:53 PM   #38
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Congratulations on climbing up to 14,000 feet, braumeister! Very wise of you to take along an oximeter. Pulse oximetry is "the fifth vital sign" in acute medicine. You now have objective evidence on which to base your decision not to try Kilimanjaro. "Climb every mountain" is just a song, not an imperative.
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Old 10-05-2016, 06:01 PM   #39
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Have never wanted to climb mountains.

I did take the train to Jungfraujoch when I was in Switzerland and was goofy/dizzy way up there. But the sausage & spatzle was worth it.
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Old 10-05-2016, 06:02 PM   #40
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Thanks for the kind words, Meadbh, but it still hurts just a little to realize that I'm not getting any younger. [sigh]

OK, I'm over it now.
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