The news of the passing of Gugu Zulu hit South Africa hard this morning. Zulu was a well-known racing car driver, and was part of the Trek4Mandela initiative to climb Kilimanjaro for Mandela Day.
Following his death, CapeTalk's John Maytham spoke to Nicki van Veelen from Climbing Kilimanjaro about the dangers of mountain climbing.
Van Veelen has been taking people on hikes on Kilimanjaro since 1994. He says the biggest risk of climbing the mountain is altitude sickness and it affects anyone irrespective of age, gender and fitness levels.
Even the same person hiking up the mountain, this year can be fine and next year be a different story— Nicki van Veelen from Climbing Kilimanjaro
Van Veelen says his company checks their clients blood oxygen levels to see if the person is still fit to go higher up the mountain. If they find that the oxygen level are low they take a stand and refuse to take them up.
However, van Veelen says that not everyone takes the advice because of peer pressure and that's when serious problem occurs.
He says the biggest cause of altitude sickness is going too high too fast but Climbing Kilimanjaro recommends that people do the hike over seven days and six nights.
At the end of the day safety is our main concern— Nicki van Veelen from Climbing Kilimanjaro
Van Veelen says the problem with climbing a mountain that high, is that there is no preparation, and you only discover you have altitude sickness when you are already high up the mountain. He says the only way to prepare, is to arrive a week earlier and climb the smaller mountains to get your body acclimatise to 4000 metres.