HEALTH & SAFETY
SAFETY MEANS SUCCESS
On the rugged slopes of Kilimanjaro, the mountain is your ultimate challenge, and your wildest dream. But to stand on this mighty peak, you need the guidance of true experts - safety-focused guides who understand what it takes to turn your dream into reality.
Our guides are the best in the business, with decades of leadership experience and a deep understanding of the mountain. They will lead you through the wildest of treks, and weave your challenge into a safety-driven, passion-fired adventure.
With our guides by your side, you will be in the safest of hands as you climb. They will keep you healthy, so you can face your challenge fully and enjoy every moment of the climb. And in the unlikely event of an emergency, our professional guiding team and trained responsive support team are trained and ready to save your life if need be.
THE ALTITUDE EFFECT
The world is vast and varied, but for the vast majority of humanity, the heights are a foreign and unknown realm. 94% of the population live below 5,000 feet and have never traveled above 8,000 feet. Chances are, this includes you. But on Kilimanjaro, you will have the chance to experience something truly extraordinary.
At 19,341 feet above sea level, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and one of the most challenging climbs in the world. To reach the summit, you must choose a company with a wealth of climbing experience and highly trained guides. These guides are the key to your success, as they know the mountain intimately and can guide you to the summit safely.
Another important consideration is route selection. Many climbers fail to reach the summit due to altitude sickness, often because they choose a route that is too short and does not allow their bodies to acclimatize. To increase your chances of a successful and enjoyable climb, consider a longer route that will give your body the time it needs to adjust to the altitude.
Kilimanjaro is a once in a lifetime opportunity, choose wisely and experience the climb of a lifetime.
Every year, the Tusker guiding team undertakes a rigorous training regimen that is second to none. This is the comprehensive High Altitude First Responder course (HAFR), which we designed specifically for the unique challenges of climbing Kilimanjaro.
Through this course, our guides are trained to monitor acclimatization and treat high altitude emergencies. They learn to use our full support network, from the mountain down to the hospital and all the way back home, if needed.
Our guides are well respected on Kilimanjaro, and they are often called upon to help out with national park rescues and give advice and assistance to other companies in emergency situations.
We take the safety of our clients and the reputation of our company very seriously, that's why we invest in the best guide training possible. With Tusker, you can rest easy knowing that you are in the hands of experts who have been thoroughly trained to handle any situation that might arise on the mountain.
CREATORS OF THE HAFR COURSE
Dr. Greg Bledsoe
One of the top wilderness medicine specialists in North America
Dr. Bledsoe spent five years on faculty in John Hopkins Department of Emergency Medicine and held the role of instructor and medical consultant to the United States Secret Service, and high-altitude medical advisor for the U.S. Special Forces. Dr. Bledsoe is also the founder of EXPEDMED.ORG, which conducts annual expedition medical conferences and CME expeditions. Tusker has run numerous wilderness medical credit CME expeditions for the organization up Kilimanjaro.
Tusker Founding Guide Eddie Frank
Guide with 54 Kilimanjaro Climbs
Eddie Frank has been a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) for over two decades. Back in 2000, while taking the course, he realized that the WFR course spent only 2 hours teaching high altitude. With the help of his medical instructor and Dr. Greg Bledsoe, he designed the HAFR course focusing on the high-altitude environment. This is the only course on Kilimanjaro specializing on high-altitude. Eddie has also been a speaker at Dr. Bledsoe’s EXPED.ORG wilderness medical conferences.
High Altitude First Responder (HAFR) training is an expansion of Wilderness First Responder (WFR) training, with a focus on high-altitude medical issues. All Tusker’s Kilimanjaro guides are meticulously trained as High Altitude First Responders. For this reason, Tusker’s Kilimanjaro guides also comprise the medical team on our treks to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.
EMERGENCY MEDICAL EQUIPMENT
Tusker Trail is one of Kilimanjaro’s original climbing companies, so you have the backing of years of Kilimanjaro experience at your side all the way to the summit. Having led thousands of adventurers to the pinnacle of Africa, you tap into the most highly experienced guiding team accompanying you on the challenge of your lifetime. Medical training combined with the proper medical equipment goes hand in hand. Every Tusker climbing group travels with an extensive array of medical and safety equipment, allowing your medically trained guides to monitor your health during your climb and to respond to mountain emergencies.
In the event you have severe altitude sickness, the best treatment is a quick descent and a steady supply of oxygen. Each one of your Tusker guides on your climb carries a Jumbo “D” cylinder, which contains 640 liters of oxygen – plenty to get you down to safety. Tusker also utilizes portable altitude chambers (PACs), also known as Gamow bags. They are portable hyperbaric chambers designed to simulate air pressure at lower altitude and are lifesavers. Each of your guides is thoroughly trained in their use and application. Because of their experience and training, Tusker Trail’s guides are highly respected by both the National Park authorities and other guiding companies. Here’s a list of some of the gear that will accompany you on your climb.
- Comprehensive first aid kits
- Pulse oximeters to check your O2 levels
- Portable oxygen
- Stethoscopes for lung checks
- Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC)
- Patient transport litters (Same as US Army)
- Backup cold weather gear
- Water purification
If needed, you will be evacuated promptly by your guide and a team of porters, either on foot or by litter down the mountain to definitive medical care at the hospital in Moshi. If you need special medical care that cannot be provided in Moshi, then Ripcord will evacuate you back home to the hospital of your choice.
At the start of an evacuation, your guide notifies Tusker’s Moshi Operations, who directs your evacuation. The contact US Headquarters and Ripcord, Considering our 98% summit success rate, medical evacuations occur infrequently. Tusker has used Ripcord as an emergency resource for many years. During emergencies, Tusker has 24/7 access to Ripcord’s team of emergency doctors.
Nepal Earthquake (7.8) Rescue 2015: Ripcord was crucial for Tusker’s Everest Base Camp trek evacuation from 17,000 ft. immediately following Nepal’s 7.8 earthquake in 2015. Tusker Trail was the first group out of Nepal, with everyone arriving home safely.
IN CONSTANT CONTACT
Your guiding team uses portable VHF radios and cell phones to stay in constant contact with Tusker’s Moshi Operations, U.S. Headquarters and other Tusker climbing teams on the mountain, as well as with Ripcord, our emergency evacuation partner. If you have any type of crisis, we trigger our emergency protocols immediately.
CLIMBING SUPPORT CREW
You have an extensive dedicated team backing you every step of your journey, from sign-up to summit, and back home again. It all starts with your booking at our Head Office at Lake Tahoe. Seasoned guides, advisors, and planners, along with our large crew of porters, are all backed up by our ground operations team in Moshi at the foot of Kilimanjaro. Every team remains in constant contact with each other and our Head Office.
A HEALTHY MOUNTAIN CAMP
As the rugged peaks loom above and the winds of adventure beckon, understand that health and safety are the foundation upon which all great expeditions are built.
That is why the first step in our training for climbing chefs starts with the Culinary Institute of America. In their training of Tusker’s Mountain Chefs, they instill a keen sense of kitchen hygiene and safety. Our chefs are rigorously trained to adhere to the most stringent standards of cleanliness, ensuring that every meal is prepared with the utmost care and attention to detail.
We take the purity of your drinking water as seriously as the summit itself. Each drop is thoroughly purified, and it is this water that is used to craft every one of your meals. And should the thirst for adventure strike, know that you have an endless supply of this life-giving elixir at your disposal.
Your private toilet tents are tended to by a dedicated team, cleaned and sanitized with the utmost care to ensure they are always in top condition. Our aim, as well as yours, is to return to Moshi in pristine health, having achieved the ultimate goal of reaching the summit. Trust in us to provide the foundation of safety and hygiene upon which your expedition will thrive.
HYDRATION AT ALTITUDE
When you embark on an adventure at higher elevations your respiration increases, and your body works harder in an attempt to get more oxygen. This has an impact on your water intake. Your first concern is clean drinking water. Tusker Trail purifies all water used for drinking, cooking and hand washing during your entire climb. There’s also plenty of it, so we won’t run out.
At higher altitudes, your body loses water through perspiration twice as fast as it does at sea level. To fix this, you should drink an extra 1-2 liters of water each day at high-altitude, making a total of 3-4 liters. During your climb, your guides will monitor your water intake to ensure that you are drinking enough water. For your own piece of mind, an easy method to assess your hydration level is to check your urine. The rule of thumb is if your urine is dark colored, this usually means you are dehydrated.
A great tip for keeping hydrated during your climb is to take regular sips of water about every 15 minutes during strenuous activity and to take larger gulps when you are taking breaks. Make sure to keep your water easily accessible so you can drink as you climb.
DIAMOX - THE SECRET TO KILIMANJARO’S SUMMIT?
As the majestic peak of Kilimanjaro rises 19,341 feet above the African savannah, a fierce challenge awaits those bold enough to attempt its summit. But the climb is not for the faint of heart. Only a mere 40% of those who set out to conquer the mountain's peak will succeed. The main culprit? High altitude.
But fear not, brave adventurer, for there is hope. Many climbers turn to Diamox, a prescription drug that helps prevent or lessen the effects of high altitude on the body. Diamox is the brand name for the generic drug acetazolamide, which is not only used for climbing mountains but also for treating conditions such as glaucoma, sleep apnea, epilepsy, and hypertension.
As one ascends to ever-greater heights, the body may begin to feel the effects of acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness. This occurs when the body reaches high altitude too quickly, generally above 10,000-ft/3,048-m. Symptoms may include headaches, nausea, fatigue, and shortness of breath. But with the help of Diamox, you can rise above the sickness and reach the summit of Kilimanjaro.
Common symptoms of altitude sickness include:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty concentrating, confusion
- Lack of coordination
When you start experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be forced to stop your climb before more serious medical problems develop, like high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Acetazolamide can be used to prevent or lessen the effects of AMS. The Mayo Clinic says that Diamox is “fairly effective in preventing many cases of altitude illness.”
Diamox makes your blood more acidic. When this happens, your body thinks there’s too much carbon dioxide in your blood, so it works harder to pump more oxygen back in. That means your body will breathe deeper and faster to get rid of the excess carbon dioxide, allowing more oxygen into your bloodstream. This extra oxygen works well for acclimating your body to high altitudes and preventing AMS symptoms. Diamox is available via prescription from your doctor and is not available over the counter. While there are certainly benefits to using it, there are no guarantees.
- Diamox does not prevent AMS all the time.
- Diamox does not cure AMS.
As you set out to achieve the mighty peak of Kilimanjaro, one might might say that the best defense against acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a good offense. The key to preventing AMS is to climb the mountain slowly, giving your body the time it needs to adjust to the changing altitude. By taking it easy during the climb, you'll give your body the best chance to adapt on its own.
Although acetazolamide can be helpful for preventing many symptoms associated with altitude sickness, it shouldn’t be your first option. The most successful climbers reach the summit and avoid AMS by taking a longer route up the mountain.
At Tusker, we understand the importance of safety when climbing Kilimanjaro. That's why the health and well-being of our climbers is our top priority. Our guides are experts, thanks to their high-altitude medical training and extensive experience on the mountain. They will never push you to ascend too quickly or continue on if you're feeling unwell. Trust in their knowledge and experience, and you'll be sure to reach the summit in the safest and most satisfying way possible.
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