The combination of strong equatorial sun and thinner air makes sunburn and snowblindness very common. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun. Dehydration predisposes hypothermia and altitude illness. Drink 4 to 6 litres of fluids per day. A diet high in carbohydrates supplemented by other foods will best prepare your body for the challenging alpine environment.
Headache and slight nausea are common effects of altitude for the first night above 4,000 m (13,000 ft).
Dress right, eat right, drink right – These guidelines may save your life. Extremes of heat, cold, wind and sun can adversely affect visitors to Mt. Kenya. Temperatures range from 30°C (90°F) to 15°C (0°F). Hypothermia or exposure is a life threatening lowering of the body core temperature. It can occur in air temperatures as high as 10°C (50°F). UV protection and dark glasses should be carried.
HYPOTHERMIA or EXPOSURE
Signs/symptoms are clumsiness, stumbling apathy, lethargy, loss of enthusiasm and thinking ability, disorientation and unconsciousness.
Treatment requires early recognition and aggressive steps to warm the hypothermic person. Find shelter. Remove wet clothing. Create a warm and dry environment for the victim. Put the victim in a sleeping bag with one or two other people stripped to their underclothes. If the casualty is able, drinking warm, high caloric fluids like cocoa will help. The recovering hypothermic person will need rest and should be taken off the mountain. (see below)
The combination of strong equatorial sun and thin air makes sunburn and snowblindness very common. Protect your skin and eyes from the sun. Dehydration predisposes hypothermia and altitude illness. Drink 4 to 6 litres of fluid per day. A diet high in carbohydrates supplemented by other foods will best prepare your body for the challenging alpine environment
Above 3,000 m, very few visitors avoid altitude sickness completely. Visits are much more enjoyable if you allow two nights either at the road heads at 3,000 m, or at the higher huts at around 4,000 m. before proceeding higher. On the first day, hiking from the park gates to the road-heads is strongly recommended. Increase fluid intake to 4 to 6 litres per day, avoid extreme physical exertion and eat a light diet high in carbohydrates. Take the symptoms seriously. Rest and acclimatise if AMS is suspected. Immediately report to the rescue ranger station and descend if High Altitude Pulmonary Edema or High Altitude Cerebral Edema is suspected.
At high altitudes, the available amount of oxygen decreases dramatically. This can result in medical situations that must be of concern to every visitor. These range from Acute Mountain Sickness, with various degrees of discomfort, to High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and Cerebral Edema, both of which can be fatal. Because cases can progress rapidly fram mild to severe, recognition of symptoms is essential.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)
Signs/symptoms: Headache, nausea, fatigue, malaise, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping.
Treatment: Slow down, stay in camp, drink plenty of fluids and rest while the body adjusts to the altitude. If symptoms persist after 48 hours, descend.
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
Signs/symptoms: Shortness of breath during exercise progressing to shortness of breath at rest, a dry cough deteriorating to a frothy sputum, audible gurgling (rales) from the chest area, increased heart and breathing rate.
Treatment: Immediately descend and seek medical attention. Descent is the only treatment as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema does not improve with rest at altitude. Symptoms can progress quickly to a point where the victim cannot walk.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)
Signs/symptoms: Symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness that progress to severe headache, loss of co-ordination, slurred speech, irrational behaviour, then coma.
Treatment: Same as High Altitude Pulmonary Edema: descend.
Some climbers find that certain drugs can help prevent or reduce AMS symptoms, but these drugs should never be used to treat AMS/HAPE/HACE. Consult your doctor before going to the mountain.
In case of an emergency (a severe injury or illness where outside help is needed) we contact a KWS official immediately. The Ranger Station the head of the Teleki Valley and Austrian Hut are permanently manned as is the Met Station and the Naro Moru, Sirimon and Chogoria Gates. All have radios. We may also be assisted at Mackinder’s Hut in the Teleki Valley and Shiptons Hut in the Mackinders Valley. We write down all the information on the victim’s condition and location. We also mark the victim’s position on the map. We are familiar with the nearest source of help while on the mountain.