Friday, March 16, 2007


Having been thinking about this since we got back, I've reached the conclusion that one of the major factors influencing whether people struggled to reach the top or were generally ok was the amount of sleep they got (or didn't). A good night's sleep is invaluable for feeling ready to tackle every day and rest is also supposed to help with acclimatisation.

Jon and I were lucky that we had little problems sleeping and felt more or less refreshed each morning. Similarly, many of the people at the front of the group on summit night slept relatively well on the previous nights. At the same time, people who didn't reach the top all had serious trouble sleeping and the sheer exhaustion was a big reason for not being able to carry on.

So, for anyone thinking about climbing Kili via a tent route, I would suggest the following:

1. Make sure that you are happy with camping. The ground underneath you will be hard and uneven, and the campsite will be noisy well into the night and first thing in the morning. If you've never been camping before, it would be worth trying this before you attempt Kili (hint,hint!).

2. Take earplugs. The campsite can get noisy, but also your "tent-mate" may need to come and go during the night, and sleeping bags can be very rustle-y in the silence of the night.

3. Find out about what sleeping tablets etc work for you and whether they are suitable for use at altitude.

4. If you're coming from somewhere where you'll be suffering from jet-lag, make sure you add an extra few days to your trip at the beginning to allow your body to adjust to the new time.

Any other suggestions welcome!


Blogger sciencemel said...

Would you have added an extra day before the trip? Or, would you have added an extra acclimatization day during the hike? (Another option I've read...) Or both?

No worries about the posts... I've got two blogs and people still send me e-mails... Sometimes it seems like you are posting to yourself. According to Google, one blog is created every minute and the average readership is one...

8:31 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

OK, OK...hearing you loud and clear. Gill will go without me next time, get loads of sleep and sprint up to the summit, I'm sure. Just rub salt in the open wound, why don't you?

10:47 PM  
Blogger Esther said...

Hey Andy, that wasn't directed at you specifically! I think it was true throughout the group that those who slept better tended to feel better. I guess there's very little you can do in practice to try and make yourself sleep well, especially if the altitude is really getting to you, but I thought I'd share our learning points from our trip. So there! :-P

Sciencemel, I think we asked our tour leader these questions, and in her experience an extra day on the mountain didn't actually make that much of a difference. In theory, proper acclimatisation should take place over several weeks, as you should only be ascending 300m per day at most.

Personally, I would have quite liked a rest day at some point just to relax a bit and absorb all the experiences we'd had until then. But I guess other people would have just got bored sitting around doing nothing.

I guess the only way to really prepare for this is to do something else at a relatively high altitude and see how your body reacts and then take it from there...

11:24 AM  

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