Medical aids


Some people love pills, others hate them. We stand somewhere in between. Whilst opinions vary, here are the drugs that have proven most valuable to us on Everest. Remember though that we are not physicians. The following is only a summary of our own personal experience.

You need to consult a doctor, discuss the expedition and have him/her get you the proper prescriptions and exams. Since few physicians know much about severe altitude, you might have to guide them. Again, there is some good literature on alpine medicine; "Medicine for Mountaineering" by James A Wilkerson, MD and "Surviving Denali" by Jonathan Waterman. Both books have been really useful to us. It could also be helpful to print and bring the following section with you.


Visiting the bathroom whilst climbing is a complicated and cold procedure. You have to get into heavy clothing, work your way over a considerable distance (at least that's how it will seem in that condition) jump icy rocks and then do what you have to do in a limited state of privacy...

That is if you are lucky enough to be in BC. Higher camps provide even more hostile comforts, not to mention if you suffer sudden stomach attacks while climbing. Stripping in the icefall or while roped at the Lhotse wall is inevitable at times, and memorable always.

In 1997, a climber fell and was killed whilst doing his thing on C3. Always be carefully roped when leaving tent at C3, even for very short distances!

Everest is not a place for frequent visits to the toilet and antibiotics will prove a helpful friend to you. Diarrhea causes dehydration and disturbance of the mineral balance in your body. Drink plenty and add electrolyte supplement.

Since diarrhea is such a pain on Everest, sometimes you will have to take aids like Imodium to halt it. You should be careful with these aids though. They prevent your body to rid of the bad bacteria, and will also affect your digestion so that you won't be able to go properly for some days. Use Imodium or the equivalent only when you really have to.

Khumbu cough

This cough is very debilitating to your climb. The dry and cold air will have you coughing every second step. You will get slow and weak. If not treated, it could spread to your lungs and cause pneumonia.

The best way to prevent it is to wear a mask that heats the breathing air and moisturizes it. We always use those masks, even when trekking close to BC. Since we started to use those masks, we have never coughed again in 3 years.

They are usually found in cross-country ski stores. They have a metallic net inserted in a lightweight plastic or cloth shell. If you can't find them you can order them from Sweden. Mail us for the addresses. These masks were originally invented for the Olympic skiing team in Finland and work very well.

If you do come down with the cough, the drug Codeine could help. Best cure though is to trek down to around 4000 meters/13000 ft for a few days until it's gone. If it spreads to you lungs, you will need antibiotics.


This is a very common trouble on altitude. Bring Zantac or the equivalent to ease heartburn, especially at nights