Friday, December 14, 2012

Ecuador: Solo Hiker, 34, Falls, Dies at Volcán Rumiñahui

Anne Thieme, 34, a solo German hiker, was found dead yesterday (December 13) after reportedly falling at least 120 feet (36 meters) while hiking Volcán Rumiñahui at Cotopaxi National Park.

Cotopaxi National Park is roughly two hours from the capital of Quito by car. 

COMMENT: First of all, our condolences and sympathies go out to Ms. Thieme's  family.  

Tragically, the young woman had been reported missing since last week; she was found by the Cotopaxi Fire Department.

As most of our readers know, I have trekked or climbed mountain ranges in Nepal, Japan, South Korea and Chile. Thus, I offer the following cautionary advice in the hope that other hikers don't meet Anne Thieme's sad fate:

1. Don't hike ALONE. If you do, that's the first bad choice you've made;

2. Don't hike above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) if have not had a recent physical examination or if you are in poor physical condition;

3. If you are traveling alone, retain the services of a REPUTABLE guide or mountain tour operator;

4. If you've never done mountain hiking above 8,000 feet (2,400 meters) in the past, arrange for oxygen to be transported for the duration of your trip. This is best arranged through a credible mountain guide;

5. Subscribe to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage before leaving home; being evacuated by helicopter can easily run $50,000-100,000;

6. Drink plenty of liquids while engaged in mountain hiking, avoid alcohol and consume high-carb foods;

7. Considering seeing your medical provider and asking him/her for a  prescribed medication called Diamox (acetazolamide), which can alleviate the symptoms of mountain sickness. This medication is normally started one day before hiking; and

8. The symptoms of acute mountain sickness includes a tight chest, confusion, coughing and inability to walk in a straight line. These symptoms can best be eliminated by going to a lower elevation. 

Cotopaxi National Park is the most visited destination on the Ecuadorian mainland, second only to the Galápagos Islands.