Tuesday, December 15, 2020

“Mountaineering and health” (5)

Alpinistic advice from a mountaineering medic of the silver age

There is no need to carry much of a medicine-chest, and the drugs taken should be such as are simple and whose action is understood. The modern tendency to the rather indiscriminate use of powerful remedies is to be deprecated unless the traveller has some medical knowledge and experience. 

Many of these fashionable preparations are very depressing, and their precise action is imperfectly understood. The less in fact that people under the special conditions of travel and climbing practise as amateur physicians on themselves the better. A few simple surgical wrinkles and methods may be advantageously learned. Books may suggest what these should be, but books cannot teach how they should be practised properly. 

For the mild diarrhoea that often attacks mountain travellers chlorodyne is in most cases a simple and efficient remedy, but it does not suit all. It is best taken in small doses of ten or fifteen drops, repeated two or three times at intervals of an hour. The heartburn that often occurs at night after a long walk can be controlled by bicarbonate of soda lozenges. 

It is always unwise to start early in the morning on a perfectly empty stomach. When solid food is distasteful, milk, if procurable, will carry a traveller a long way. Some take a flask of rum with them, and a few drops of this in the milk is perhaps less objectionable before an ascent than any other spirit: rum is a strong respiratory stimulant. 

Warm food is best: tins of chocolate and milk can be bought which form an excellent breakfast. It is well always to carry some chocolate in the pocket. Kola chocolate or biscuits answer well.


C T Dent’s Chapter III in the Badminton Library Series on Mountaineering, third edition (1901).

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