I was fortunate enough to meet with women who had climbed mountains before, so I collected valuable nuggets of information about seemingly gross things like infections, menstrual cycles, and, well, peeing in the wild. Read on if you have the stomach…
Your face: Bring with you some toner and some cotton as a substitute for washing your face since there is no access to water. Walking long hours in volcanic ash/dust means you will get it all over your face, nails, nose, etc. Wiping your face once in the morning and once at night will leave the cotton pad black!
Your period: Believe it or not the altitude affects your period! Even if you are not meant to get it on the mountain, bring with you extra undies and pads/tampons/whatever you use. Some ladies choose to take the pill to postpone it but it’s best to bring pads because you never know. The last thing you need on the mountain is your period when you are not ready for it!
Your morning-after look: If this is something you might care about, a waterproof eyeliner/mascara helps to make you look a little more lady like and a little less like a dude while on the mountain :)
Your mane: To avoid a mop of grease on your head, wear your hair in a bun the whole time and hats will keep you warm and still look good too. Some girls who are comfortable letting their hair down, are better off wearing a french braid. It keeps your hair together, and you still look good in the pictures after.
Your body: Body sprays also come in handy when you want to just refresh yourself – and also refresh an item that you’ve been wearing for 3 days straight! It will get pretty cold towards the end on some of the nights, so you won’t even feel like changing your clothes. The body spray will come in handy for moments like these :)
Your talons: Keep your toe nails super short! They will break otherwise and you might lose them if you don’t. The pressure of the climbing, especially downhill, is brutal to your toes so if you don’t cut them short then you risk losing it later. You can keep your fingernails normal if you want, it actually helps to keep them slightly long because because you can clean them properly. When they’re too short, it feels like the black grime just gets lost in there forever.
Your underwear: Some women swear by thongs and believe them to be better than normal underwear. With all of the movement and layers of clothing, you will keep getting massive wedgies, and thongs are more comfortable.
Your skin: Bring a strong SPF and don’t forget to put it on your hands! Your face will burn for sure but don’t forget your hands, because they’re the first giveaway of your age. And if you feel a zit coming, DON’T pop it. The amount of dirt and bacteria festering in your fingers will only make it worse. (Remember, water is scarce)
Your lips: If you bring lip balm make sure it has sun protection as well, because your lips get mutilated from the sun and the exposure in general.
Your dignity: A she-wee is your best bet for bathroom breaks since there’s less mess, and lesser time will be taken for bathroom stops. By the end of the trip however, nobody else around you will care, because they’ll be in the same boat as you. Take cranberry extract and drink lots of water to help stave off nasty UTIs.
Your nausea: The altitude will get to you at some point or another, even if you’re taking Diamox. Symptoms include, nausea, dizziness, and a loss of appetite. The Diamox affects your kidneys so you will be peeing a lot more than usual. Remember to drink lots of water to replenish the fluids lost, and this will also help with the nausea.
If you’ve got any more tips up your sleeve, please do share!