There is no better way to learn expedition medicine than to take part in an expedition, and no better place to learn mountaineering than on a mountain.
Combining the two concepts, WildMedix presents a Mountain Medicine Expedition on Mount Kenya, Africa’s second highest peak, home to the highest alpine climbing on the continent, and the highest via ferrata in the world.
A lofty wilderness of volcanic spires, beautiful tarns, hidden valleys and high glaciers, Mt Kenya is an excellent place to gain personal and professional insight into high altitude medicine: it features an ‘easy’ trekking peak (Point Lenana, 4985 m) which does not of require for technical mountaineering to gain the summit, but also offers the opportunity to learn safe movement on rock and glaciers, and an option of a technical climb to the highest summit, Batian (5199 m). Free of the ruthless competition between tour operators aiming for the quickest turnaround on the mountain found on Kilimanjaro, it is a true wilderness experience – wild, remote, breath-taking, and multifaceted.
Over the course of the expedition, experts in the fields of mountaineering, wilderness and expedition medicine will cover topics ranging from training and preparation to work as an expedition medic, wilderness health and hygiene, common African infectious diseases, wilderness trauma management, high altitude physiology and medicine, backcountry and mountaineering skills.
Participants should be medical professionals – although we encourage suitably skilled volunteers – with an interest in remote and wilderness medicine, especially mountain medicine. An adequate baseline level of fitness is necessary and hiking experience is advisable, but prior mountaineering or climbing skills are not required, unless you wish to join the technical party to climb Batian. If you are uncertain about your suitability, please contact us for advice. We are now also offering ‘trek-or-climb-only’ option, where non-medical friends and family can join the expedition at a reduced cost. Trek-only participants will take part in the same itinerary, but will not undergo the lecture and practical training sessions (leading to lots of time to relax or to acclimatise if your goal is to climb Batian).
Why not Kilimanjaro? Well, because we’ve listened! Mt Kenya is a wilder, more ‘expedition-y’ experience, offers more freedom, and, importantly, is about 40% of the cost of an expedition of similar duration and training on Kili. However, if you really want to tick Kilimanjaro off your bucket list, speak to us about arranging a climb to follow immediately upon our descent from Mt Kenya. It is the only time we would recommend a quick Kili itinerary, as you will be already very well acclimatised after more than 6 days above 4000 m, and less than an hour’s flight from Nairobi.
If you’d prefer something a little more sedate to relax afterwards, talk to us about the option of a short safari before you fly home.
About the 2019 Expedition: 15 - 27 September 2019
Preparation for the WildMedix Mountain Medicine Expedition will begin well before your departure, when you receive the required reading material and a navigation workbook.
After flying into Kenya, you will be transferred by road to comfortable cabins high on the eastern flank of the mountain, where we will spend 3 nights acclimatizing at around 3000 m, with the days spent covering a wide range of topics in wilderness, mountain and expedition medicine, and sorting gear for the climb. Early on the morning of Day 4 we will set off on the ascent, climbing the Chogoria route past some of the most spectacular scenery ro be found in the Mount Kenya National Park.
Approaching Mt Kenya from the east, we traverse a spectacular region of gorges and high alpine lakes, which are wild, remote, and frequented by wildlife. It is a longer route than the southern and western sides, discouraging the crowds found elsewhere. Possibile sightings include large game (eland, zebra, buffalo and even elephant are occasionally seen).
The first two days hiking have been likened to the Scottish Highlands, with expansive moorland, albeit much higher, and the lakes are stocked with wild trout. For the first four days on the mountain, we deliberately walk shorter distances than commercial groups, making a gradual ascent. This leaves adequate time for practical skills training and simulation in the field, covering aspects of backcountry skills, mountaineering, navigation, communication, patient assessment and care. In the evenings, we will have short lectures and discussions on wilderness and expedition medicine topics.
On the following mountain day, we climb to the Austrian Hut (~4700m), with spectacular views across the Lewis Glacier to the peaks. Our slow ascent and acclimatisation mean that by the next morning, we are ready for an ascent of Point Lenana, taking in the via ferrata and glacier on the way. We return to the hut for a second night, allowing movement with light packs. The next day is spent circumnavigating the high peaks and all the famous landmarks, to reach Kami Tarn and Hut on the opposite side of the mountain. From here, the technical climbing party will be very well acclimatised to climb Batian, while the rest of the group is able to enjoy the options of further exercises or a well-earned rest day. After a final night at Kami, the party will descend from the mountain and return to the roadhead. We then exit the park and travel back to the lodge for a celebratory dinner.
The last morning will see heartfelt goodbyes as we return to the airport and begin travel home.
The expedition fee is USD 2950 per person. This includes all training, the expedition itself, and the specific items listed in the section below. Group size is limited to guarantee personal and focussed attention on all participants. Please note that the camping on the mountain is in shared tents; this is not negotiable for safety reasons. Accommodation in town is in shared rooms, but a single room supplement is available. The trek-or-climb-only option expedition fee is USD 2000, and includes all items except the textbooks, lectures and practical/simulation exercises, and course completion certificate. Repeat WMX customers and/or Wilderness Medical Society members are eligible for a 10% discount on the expedition fee.
Course fee includes:
Commemorative multifunctional headwear
Prescribed textbook (Oxford Handbook of Wilderness and Expedition Medicine)
Prescribed navigation workbook (Andrew Friedemann’s ‘Navigation Anyplace Wild’)
Local accommodation and all meals from dinner on the evening of arrival until the course dinner on the final day before departure
Park, nature conservation, trekking and rescue fees (required by Mt Kenya National Park)
Guide and cook fees (Guides are required, and their salaries help uplift communities)
Tented and/or hut accommodation on the mountain
Group equipment (tents, mattresses, cooking equipment)
Eating utensils, plates, etc.
Course completion certificate
You need pay your own:
Flights to and from Kenya
Travel and medical insurance (compulsory)
Soft and alcoholic drinks
Tips for guides and porters (budget to pay at least USD 200)