Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Toubkal preparations – First aid kit

Continuing on my theme of Toubkal preparations this post will focus on additions made to my first aid kit to accommodate issues we may experience at altitude. I will be sticking with my standard Mountain Leader kit by Lifesystems, and making some modifications and additions for stuff that I may require for altitude related issues. Also past experience of this type of trek has taught be carrying certain medications is very useful, below is a summary of the kit I will be carrying in addition to my standard gear:

Acetazolamide – Anyone who has done any altitude work will be familiar with Acetazolamide (aka Diamox). Diamox is a drug that is used to treat the initial stages of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It is one of 2 drugs usually carried on expeditions the other being Dexamethasone (something I would never use or carry). Essentially I carry Diamox for use to treat initial AMS, I do not take it as a preventative measure. Diamox is a prescription only drug, and you should consult your GP in order to get this prior to a trek. The drug works by acidifying the blood, this means the blood functions more efficiently in its removal of CO2. In this way it minimise the effect of high altitude on the body.

Co-codamol – Co-codamol is the strongest pain killer available without prescription. It is essentially codeine combined with paracetamol. I carry it so that in a worst case scenario I have a strong pain killer to mask any discomfort I may be feeling. This came in particularly handy when I broke my collar bone at 18,000ft. This is available over the counter at most pharmacies.

Imodium – Imodium is an over the counter drug used to treat diarrhoea. I carry this because more often than not changing to a local diet when abroad can mean your body struggles a bit. Personally I try to avoid this my changing my diet over about 2 weeks before I go to help me. I am usually ok (touch wood), others I have been on expedition with have not been so lucky....

Oximeter – I carry a small oximeter. This allows me to accurately check my own (and others) oxygen saturation rate (SP02). Oxygen saturation is a measure of how much oxygen is in the blood in a given sample. It can be a useful tool in an emergency as an indication of weather altitude is hitting someone hard.

You should always consult a medical professional when using/buying any of these drugs. I have been revising all my expedition medicine skills by using the Royal Geographic society expedition medicine book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Expedition-Medicine-Royal-Geographical-Society/dp/1861974345/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1282077807&sr=8-2 very worthwhile if you aspire to learn first aid abroad.

I have been on a number of courses that focus on first aid and emergencies in remote areas, in particular I can highly recommend High Peak First aids expedition medic and wilderness level 2 courses http://www.highpeakfirstaid.co.uk/. They really helped increase my existing first aid skills to include remote care and emergencies.

More prep to come.....

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Toubkal 2010 trip preparations

So there is a month and a half until I head out to Morocco. The main objective is obviously Toubkal (4167 m) via the North Col route (PD*). However hoping to tick off 2 other 4000m+ peaks in the area; Timesguida (4.089 m) via the East ridge route (F***) and Ras n'Ouanoukrim (4.083 m) via the North Col route (PD*). Ambitious perhaps to climb North Africa’s 3 highest Peaks in 7 days but I’m confident it’s very achievable.

Naturally my thoughts have been running over what equipment I should take, and what equipment should stay behind. I have made a number of purchases lately which should hopefully allow me to adapt to the climate in Morocco a little easier. First off I have bought 2 new pairs of trousers:

The Mountain Hardwear Canyon trousers and Craghoppers Kiwi convert trousers. I bought these specifically as they were lightweight, light coloured and UV protective. My current trousers are (for the most part) heavier weight trousers more suited to UK climate. I have also bought a Mountain Hardwear Canyon Long Sleeve shirt. I chose this shirt as it will make a happy change to the base layers I usually wear, and because most of my current set of base layers are short sleeve. These recent Mountain Hardwear purchases are the first of this brand I have bought, hopefully they will perform as well as I’ve heard they do!

I have also bought an MSR miniworks water filter. This will be ideal for providing me with a clean source of water throughout my trek. Review will be coming soon! However a number of features appealed to me about this filter over the many others on the market including the ease of maintenance in the field due to its simple design, and it's efficient filter unit that gives around 2000 litres of water before needing replacing

I have also finally completed my Memory Map Morocco file. It is now fully georeferenced and good to go. It is also working fully on my GPS so that should be ideal for emergencies and the like!

Other preparations have not been going so well, my eating habbits that had got much better have now disapeared and returned to the ways of old, my fitness has not really changed, and my lung training to help my asthma hasn't been moving at all. However from today (1 Aug) I will be resuming all of the above more positive than ever. I have set myself the goal of losing another stone and a half before I go. I have also been continuing with my French training so we will see how that progresses!

More information soon...