Help, we need a medic !

One of the main things you’ll notice once you start organizing an expedition is how many things we take for granted in everyday life in Western Europe. 

One of those things is our healthcare system. At any time of day, if something happens there’s a team of professionals on stand by, ready to help. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day they’re able to provide assistance. Pakistan is a whole different situation, especially in the mountainous regions.


To find the right treatment for all the possible diseases that we might encounter, we asked the help of Marieke van Vessem, expedition doctor of the NKBV.  Marieke will be on standby for any of our medical questions. We can reach her by Sat-phone to ask which pill to take for what symptoms. She prescribed us the medication that might possibly save our lives, or at least  save us a few days on the toilet.

Next to the disease that are caused by bacteria and viruses there’s the change of our own bodies turning against us. When we reach the altitude above 2500 meters we’re more and more prone tot altitude sickness.  Our bodies need to adept to the ever decreasing air pressure once we get higher on the mountain. The amount of oxygen we can provide to our body each with breath get’s less and less. This can cause fluid to built up in the lungs, the swelling of the brain and in the most extreme case death. 


The best remedy for altitude sickness is proper acclimatization. So we’ll be doing a lot small peaks and trips to the lower region of the mountains before attempting a summit push. By doing this our bodies get used to the lack of oxygen and adept. But even with these precautions, you can’t always prevent getting altitude sickness. In case one of us starts to get terrible headaches, see blurry and feel dizzy we’ll go down as quick as possible. Increasing air pressure should relieve those symptoms, if that doesn’t help we’ll grab medication.

It feels save to know that in any of those situations we can reach out to someone who can tell us what tot do. Even though we’re half way around the globe, we’ll be bringing a small part of the healthcare system with us and we’re very thankful to be privileged to do so.

If you want to know more about all the medical stuff involved in climbing or expeditions check the website of Marieke van Vessem and Remco Berendsen:


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