"Kilimanjaro is a snow-covered mountain 19,710 feet high, and said to be the highest mountain in Africa. Its western summit is called the Masai 'Ngàje Ngài,' the House of God. Close to the western summit there is the dried and frozen carcass of a leopard. No one has explained what the leopard was seeking at that altitude. -- Ernest HemingwayWe have set out to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2019. It is difficult to explain what we are seeking. Perhaps adventure, perhaps achievement, perhaps a limitless view of the world in refined air. Who knows? One thing is for sure, dreams are meant be lived.
The summit on Mount Kilimanjaro is called Uhuru Peak and stands at 5,895 meters (19,341 feet). Above 5,500 metres (18,000 ft) is considered extreme altitude. Marked hypoxemia, hypocapnia, and alkalosis are characteristic of extreme altitudes and progressive deterioration of physiologic function eventually outstrips acclimatization hence the lack of permanent human habitation.
Mount Kilimanjaro claims about 3-7 climbers per year. Fatalities most often are from acute mountain sickness, hypothermia, malaria, and falls.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) is a life threatening condition associated with Acute Mountain Sickness. HACE is caused by swelling of the brain tissue from fluid build up in the cranium. HACE can lead to coma or death. Symptoms include headache, fatigue, visual impairment, bladder dysfunction, bowel dysfunction, loss of coordination, paralysis on one side of the body, and confusion. Descent to lower altitudes may save those afflicted with HACE.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) is a life threatening condition associated with Acute Mountain Sickness. HAPE is caused by the fluid build up in the lungs which interferes with the exchange of oxygen. HAPE is associated with ascending too fast. Pre-acclimatization and a slow paced ascent can help mitigate the risk of HAPE. HAPE can progress rapidly and is often fatal. Symptoms include fatigue, severe dyspnea at rest, and cough that is initially dry but may progress to produce pink, frothy sputum. Descent to lower altitudes alleviates symptoms.
Hypothermia is a serious condition that occurs when the body loses heat faster than it can produce heat. This results in a dangerously low body temperature. Normal body temperature is 98.6 F (37 C). Hypothermia is defined as having a body temperature below 95 F (35 C). When body temperature drops, the heart, nervous system, and other organs can't work normally. Untreated, hypothermia can eventually lead to heart and respiratory system failure and death. Hypothermia can be caused by exposure to cold weather. The primary treatments for hypothermia are methods to warm the body and return it to a normal temperature.
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease caused by parasitic protozoans (a group of single-celled microorganisms). Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, feeling tired, vomiting, and headaches. In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma, or death. Symptoms begin ten to fifteen days after a mosquito bite introducing the parasites from the mosquito's saliva into a person's blood. No effective vaccine exists.