OXYGEN TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO 

DO YOU NEED OXYGEN TO CLIMB KILIMANJARO 

it is clear that supplemental oxygen is not necessary to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. In fact, most climbers do not use supplemental oxygen and can successfully reach the summit without it.

Climbers do not need supplemental oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro. While Kilimanjaro’s altitude is a significant challenge, it is possible to reach the summit without oxygen. The air pressure and the amount of oxygen at the peak, which is nearly 6,000 meters above sea level, are less than half of what you would find at sea level. This reduced oxygen level can make the climb more challenging, especially on the summit night when the altitude is at its highest.

To successfully climb Kilimanjaro, climbers often use the acclimatization method of walking slowly, known as the “pole,” to adapt to the altitude. Additionally, it’s essential to monitor factors like blood oxygen saturation and heart rate to assess how well your body is acclimatizing to the altitude. While supplemental oxygen is not required for Kilimanjaro, it may be carried for emergency treatment, but it is not typically used as an aid for climbers.

oxygen to climb Kilimanjaro

MOUNT KILIMANJARO WHAT IS THE OXYGEN LEVEL AT THE TOP? PULSE OXIMETER ON KILIMANJARO 

Our guides will use a pulse oximeter to measure the oxygen level in your blood and your pulse rate in the morning and evening. The oximeter is placed on a climber’s fingertip. The oximeter uses two beams of light that shine into small blood vessels and capillaries in your finger. The sensor reflects the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Oxygen saturation is a measurement of how much oxygen your blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it can carry. Normal blood oxygen levels at sea level are 95-100%.

As altitude increases, oxygen saturations decrease. Proper acclimatization generally brings oxygen saturations higher, which is why these figures typically rise when oxygen saturations are tested after resting overnight. On Kilimanjaro, oxygen saturation percentages are regularly in the 80’s. However, if oxygen saturation is ever less than 80%, we monitor that climber very closely.

IMPORTANCE OF PREPARING FOR THE CLIMB

Preparation is key to a successful Kilimanjaro climb. It is important to be physically fit, mentally prepared, and Well-equipped Training for the climb should start several months in advance with regular exercise and hiking. Mental preparation involves research on the climb, the route, the weather, and the altitude. You should pack warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a good sleeping bag.

HOW ALTITUDE AFFECTS OXYGEN 

LEVELS IN THE BOBY

As you climb higher in elevation, the air pressure decreases and the amount of oxygen in the air becomes less. This means that as you climb Kilimanjaro, your body is getting less oxygen than it would at sea level.

Fact: At the summit, there is roughly half as much oxygen in the air than at sea level – so you’ll need to break twice as much to output the same amount of work

This can lead to altitude sickness, which can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, and shortness of breath. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and take action if they occur.

COMMON ALTITUDE SICKNESS 

SYMPTOMS 

Altitude sickness can cause a range of symptoms, including headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can occur at any altitude, but they are more common at higher elevations. It’s important to be aware of these symptoms and take action if they occur. This can include resting, drinking plenty of water, and descending to a lower altitude if necessary.

Preparing for altitude sickness is an important part of climbing Kilimanjaro. This can include acclimatizing to the altitude by spending time at higher elevations before starting the climb, staying well-hydrated, and taking medication to prevent or treat altitude sickness. In some cases, oxygen tanks may be used to provide additional oxygen to climbers who are experiencing altitude sickness.

Overall, it’s important to be prepared for the effects of altitude on the body when climbing Kilimanjaro. This includes being aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and taking steps to prevent or treat it if it occurs. With the right preparation and precautions, climbing Kilimanjaro can be a safe and rewarding adventure.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR  ALTITUDE SICKNESS 

There are 3 key tricks to fight altitude sickness; taking time to acclimatize, using medication like Diamox to speed up this process, and looking after your body by keeping well-fed and hydrated.

Take time to acclimatize

The best way to prepare for altitude sickness is to acclimatize to the altitude by spending time at higher elevations before starting the climb. This allows your body to adjust to the lower oxygen levels.

There are 7 Kilimanjaro routes each with a different duration and acclimation profile.

I’d recommend one of the longer routes, like the Lemosho 8-day trip or the new northern circuit as this gives you more time to acclimatize.

Use Medication Like Diamox

Diamox is the brand name of the medication ‘Acetazolamide’. This helps you acclimatize to high altitudes quicker, which is important given on Kilimanjaro you’ll ascend around 5,000m in 5 days.

Diamox does not ‘treat’ altitude sickness. How your body handles high altitudes is largely decided by genetics so if you don’t know how your body fares it’s a good idea to consult a doctor before your trip and pack some diamox to take with you.

Stay Hydrated And Well-fed

It’s also important to stay well-hydrated, as dehydration can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness.

As altitude sickness can induce nausea, it will often make you less inclined to drink water or eat food.

Being aware of this and fueling your body properly can help prevent the symptoms from getting worse.

WHAT ABOUT THE USE OF OXYGEN TENTS ON THE CLIMB

In some cases, oxygen tanks may be used to provide additional oxygen to climbers who are experiencing altitude sickness.

This can be a lifesaving measure, as altitude sickness can be very serious. However, using oxygen tanks is not without risks. Using oxygen tanks can give climbers a false sense of security, leading them to push themselves too hard and potentially exacerbate their altitude sickness.

Pulmonary and cerebral edema liquid in the lungs and brain are potentially deadly side effects of exposure to extreme altitude. There are numerous reports of people succumbing to these edemas after taking supplemental oxygen which masks the symptoms.

OXYGEN FOR KILIMANJARO COST

We bring the following medical equipment at an extra cost of  USD 300 per trip:

  • Oxygen Tanks
  • Pulse Oximeter
  • Gamow Bag
  • Automated External Defibrillator
  • Stethoscope
  • Infrared thermometer
  • Katadyn Water Purification System

TIPS FOR A CLIMBING KILIMANJARO SUCCESSFUL 

If you’re planning to climb Kilimanjaro, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First and foremost, preparation is key. You should start training for the climb several months in advance, with regular exercise and hiking. You should also do your research on the climb, the route, the weather, and the altitude. It’s important to pack warm clothing, sturdy hiking boots, and a good sleeping bag.

When you’re climbing, be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness and take action if they occur. This can include resting, drinking plenty of water, and descending to a lower altitude if necessary. Finally, remember that climbing Kilimanjaro is a challenge, but it’s also an incredible adventure. The views from the top are well worth the effort, and the experience of climbing one of the world’s tallest mountains is unforgettable.

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Josephat Mashehe is a seasoned Kilimanjaro guide who offers his expertise to those looking to conquer Africa's highest peak. With years of experience under his belt, Josephat provides comprehensive guidance, ensuring a safe and memorable journey for adventurers. His services include detailed planning, safety measures, and on-site assistance, making him an invaluable asset for anyone aiming to tackle the challenging climb of Mount Kilimanjaro.
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