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.
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 thatís 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 wonít be able
to go properly for some days. Use Imodium or the equivalent only when
you really have to.
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 canít 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 itís gone. If it spreads to you lungs, you will
This is a very common trouble on
altitude. Bring Zantac or the equivalent to ease heartburn, especially