How to overcome the fear of heights if you are afraid of high altitudes
Fear of heights, altitude on Kilimanjaro

When attempting to climb Kilimanjaro, the primary challenge one will face is its high altitudes. This challenging hurdle of fear of heights is responsible for causing numerous difficulties during the entire journey, as well as significantly increasing the chances of not successfully reaching the glorious summit, Uhuru Point. At these extraordinarily high altitudes, humans become increasingly susceptible to altitude sickness, also commonly referred to as acute mountain sickness (AMS). It is quite unpredictable and uncertain how an individual’s unique and remarkable body will react to these extreme elevations, unless of course, they have previously encountered and experienced it before. Furthermore, it is important to note that even if someone has previously adjusted exceedingly well to the intimidatingly high altitude, there is no guarantee or assurance that they will have the same remarkable and favourable response in the future. Tremendous and multifarious factors, apart from solely the current elevation, significantly contribute to the potential occurrence and manifestation of this challenging and often daunting AMS.

  • What is the rate of ascent?
  • What is the hiking pace?
  • Are you overexerting yourself?
  • Are you well hydrated?
  • Are you in a caloric deficit?
  • How is your physical fitness?
  • How is your general health?
  • Have you pre-acclimatized?
  • Are you well rested?
  • Are you taking anything that can interfere with acclimatization?
  • Are you taking Diamox?

During your memorable and exciting trekking adventure, numerous factors are constantly at play, shaping your journey. The incredibly good news is that all of these factors can be controlled, either through thorough preparation or by taking necessary precautions throughout your climb. It is highly recommended and advised that you to take every possible measure to minimize your risk and alleviate any altitude-related symptoms that may arise during your epic trip. The process of acclimatization is a continuous and ongoing one. As we ascend to higher altitudes, our bodies gradually adjust and adapt to the thinner air that surrounds us. We persistently keep climbing, pushing our limits, and our amazing bodies once again rise to the challenge, adapting to the new conditions and demands imposed upon us. In an ideal world, every single explorer would feel fantastic and at their peak throughout the entire expedition. However, truth be told, experience has shown us time and time again that this is not always feasible or achievable.

Best Kilimanjaro routes for people who are not used to high altitudes

Therefore, our more realistic and attainable goal is to ensure that all climbers feel exceptionally well every single morning, as they wake up to embark on the next exciting segment of their extraordinary journey. This means, that when climbers open their eyes each day, their incredible bodies have already adapted to the altitude and are functioning optimally, cohesively operating with the current oxygen levels. We cannot stress enough to all of our esteemed clients and fellow explorers that the longer routes are undoubtedly the preferred options for your remarkable adventure.

Especially noteworthy are our highly recommended and sought-after 8-day Lemosho route and the extraordinary 9-day Northern Circuit route. By allowing more time on the majestic mountain, we offer your exceptional bodies the absolute best opportunity to meet all of their oxygen requirements, ensuring a safe and exhilarating ascent. Unfortunately, the most influential factor in the grand process of acclimatization is one that cannot be controlled by any means: genetics.

How to overcome the fear of heights – Acrophobia

Overcoming the fear of heights, also known as acrophobia, can be challenging, but it is definitely possible with the right approach. Here are some strategies that may help you overcome this challenge on Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya, Mount Meru, Ol Doinyo Lengai and the Rwenzori mountains:

  1. Gradual Exposure: Gradually exposing yourself to heights in a controlled and safe environment can help desensitize your fear over time. Start with small steps, such as standing on a low platform or balcony, and gradually work your way up to higher elevations.
  2. Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques: Practice deep breathing exercises and relaxation techniques to help calm your mind and body when faced with heights. This can help reduce feelings of anxiety and panic.
  3. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviours. Working with a therapist trained in CBT can help you identify and challenge irrational fears about heights, and develop coping strategies to manage them.
  4. Visualization: Visualize yourself in a situation where you are at a height and feeling calm and confident. Imagine yourself successfully overcoming your fear and focusing on positive outcomes.
  5. Seek Support: Talk to friends, family members, or a mental health professional about your fear of heights. Having a support system can provide encouragement and reassurance as you work through your fear.
  6. Learn About Heights: Educating yourself about heights and how they affect your body and mind can help demystify your fear. Understanding that fear of heights is a common phobia and learning about safety measures in place can help alleviate anxiety.
  7. Set Achievable Goals: Set realistic and achievable goals for yourself when facing heights. Celebrate your progress and accomplishments, no matter how small, to build confidence and motivation.
  8. Practice Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness techniques, such as mindfulness meditation or yoga, can help increase awareness of the present moment and reduce anxiety related to heights.
  9. Stay Active: Engage in regular physical activity and exercise, as it can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, which may indirectly help with overcoming your fear of heights.
  10. Consider Professional Help: If your fear of heights is significantly impacting your daily life or ability to function, consider seeking professional help from a therapist or counsellor who specializes in anxiety disorders. They can provide personalized treatment and support tailored to your needs.

There exist a select few extraordinary individuals who possess remarkable genetic predispositions and are capable of climbing the seven summits without even the slightest hint of a headache or discomfort. On the other hand, there are, indeed, unfortunate individuals who, despite their unwavering determination and spirit, become severely ill under the unwelcome circumstances of a mere altitude of 10,000 feet. These unique cases represent the absolute extremes of the acclimatization spectrum, and it’s important to note that they are exceedingly rare. At altitudes of 10,000 feet and higher, approximately 75% of individuals will inevitably develop symptoms closely related to altitude sickness. As you challenge yourself to conquer the magnificent Mount Kilimanjaro, which proudly stands at an awe-inspiring height of 19,340 feet above sea level, it is likely, anticipated even, that you will experience one or more of the following common symptoms: an occasional headache, a slight feeling of nausea, temporary dizziness, a mild or temporary shortness of breath, a slight decrease in appetite, occasional difficulty falling asleep, and some temporary fatigue. However, we urge you not to panic or be alarmed in any way if such symptoms manifest, as it is considered a completely normal part of the acclimatization process. Our highly experienced and knowledgeable guides possess an incredible wealth of expertise in effectively managing and handling altitude-related issues. They have successfully assisted numerous climbers throughout their inspiring journeys, and through their extensive knowledge and wisdom, they have acquired invaluable prevention methods and reliable strategies for effectively managing altitude sickness. It is of utmost importance and critical significance to treat altitude sickness with the utmost respect, caution, and care. Yet, it is equally vital to emphasize that there is no need to be excessively fearful or consumed by unnecessary worry. Given enough time, most exceptional individuals tend to recover remarkably well, with their symptoms diminishing over time, granting them the ability to continue their extraordinary trek safely, confidently, and without hesitation.


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