Mongolia Expedition Frequently Asked Questions
Why should I climb in Mongolia with IMG?
We know we're not the cheapest deal around, and we don't want to be. We spend more providing the best personnel, equipment, logistics and safety measures things that many lower-cost programs cannot afford and do not have. We don't cut corners. As you shop around, consider the following:
- IMG guides are professionals and are great teachers as well as strong climbers. All have done numerous high-altitude expeditions, including the Himalaya. Our clients enjoy the immense benefit of a core group that has climbed together extensively, producing a team that knows how to work well together. We do not think you will find any other Mongolia programs that will be led or staffed by persons of the caliber we field. We challenge you to try!
- IMG always complies with all local, state, federal, and international regulations for the countries in which we climb. This includes proper visas and climbing permits, full insurance and equipment for our guides and Sherpa support teams, and complete adherence to all environmental regulations. Our clean business record allows us to operate with full liability insurance. All client funds are deposited in a regulated trust account. We take our business seriously!
- IMG trek itineraries are longer than most others offered on the market. We know how to acclimatize properly and we don't rush.
How do I get there?
What kind of insurance do I need?
We invest in insurance coverage for commercial liability and medical and disability insurance for our employees and Sherpas while participating on our programs. We cannot insure you for your personal needs, but we do expect you to be as fiscally responsible as we are. We require that you insure yourself against potentially expensive difficulties that may arise. First, Trip Cancellation Insurance may provide financial relief should you be forced to withdraw from the program before it even happens. Next, make sure you have adequate Travel Insurance for coverage should you have a problem during the trip. Medical care and evacuation in remote locations can be expensive. For more information, please see our page on Trip Cancellation and Travel Insurance.
What's included in the expedition fee?
Costs Included in Trip Fee: Transfers between hotel and airport in Ulaanbaatar, two nights at hotel (with breakfast) in Ulaanbaatar at beginning of stated itinerary and one night at end, domestic flights, permit fees, all meals in Mongolia, ground transportation, group camping and climbing gear, satellite phone, camels to Base Camp, porters to high camp for the food and camp gear, medical kit, hyperbaric bag.
Costs Not Included in Trip Fee: International round-trip air fare and travel expenses to/from Mongolia, lunch and dinner in Ulaanbaatar, personal gear (suitable for Mt. Rainier), excess baggage charges, airport taxes and Mongolia entry visas, tip pool (we suggest $300 per person), internet and satellite phone, personal sundries and beverages, costs incurred as a result of delays or events beyond the control of IMG, required insurance coverage (medical, rescue/repatriation).
What immunizations will I need?
- Tetanus/Diphtheria: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- Polio: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- MMR: You should already have. Do you need a booster?
- Meningitis: Recommended. Consult your physician.
- Hepatitis A: Recommended. Consult your physician.
- Hepatitis B: Not a bad idea. Ask your physician.
- Cholera: Ask your physician. Not usually recommended any more.
- Typhoid: Not a bad idea to be safe. The tablet form, Vivotif Berna, is good for five years.
- Rabies: The new vaccine is easy. Ulaanbaatar and Mongolia have rabid animals.
- Malaria: problem in Mongolia, but if you plan on traveling to other places on the trip (for example, certain parts of Thailand) then malaria chemoprophylaxis (Malarone) is highly recommended.
We recommend that you visit the travel clinic at a major University Hospital or your local Public Health Department for the most up to date info on travel requirements, or check the Center for Disease Control Website at www.cdc.gov.
What is the policy on Leave No Trace?
IMG is committed to Leave No Trace. All human waste is properly disposed of and garbage is sorted into burnable and recyclables.
How much money should I bring?
We suggest $500 personal cash and $300 for the tip pool, plus a credit card. It is better to have extra cash money and not need it than to need it and not have it! For your cash, bring new style bills (with the big faces) including some $10's and $20's. I prefer cash, but you will probably also want to bring a credit card too, but remember that you will likely get hit by your bank with 3% fees on foreign credit card purchases. If you plan to use your credit card you should call your bank and let them know you will be traveling abroad, otherwise using it might trigger a fraud alert on your account which results in your card getting turned off.
How does the tip pool work?
We will collect for a tip pool and ask climbers to please contribute $300. We will collect this in Ulaanbaatar and distribute this during/after the trip on behalf of the team as a thank you gift to our porters, drivers, and Mongolian staff. You may also wish to provide additional tip to your IMG guides.
What other medical info should I consider?
While it's always nice to have a doctor as a participant on our trips, we cannot guarantee a doctor's presence. We ask that you carefully complete the Medical Information form included in the registration materials. We need to be informed of any allergies you may have, medicines you are currently taking and any medical conditions that could possibly effect your ability to safely participate on a climbing expedition.
In addition to the first aid items listed on the equipment list, there are a few additional medications that you should consider. These should be discussed with your personal physician and some will require a prescription. We want everyone to bring some of the antibiotic Ciprofloxacin and some Immodium in case of bad traveler's diarrhea. There is the possibility of Cipro resistant diarrhea, so you should also bring some azithromycin ("Z-pack") which will work for this and also bronchial infection. A sleeping medication can be useful for napping on the international flights and for the first few days in Mongolia (due to the big time change). We do not recommend the automatic use of Diamox while climbing but you might find a small dose (125mg) useful if altitude sickness symptoms appear. Discuss this and your other medication requirements with your physician. Any medication should be used only if necessary and use should be discussed thoroughly with your physician and with your guide before you take the medication.
Water purification is also very important. An effective and inexpensive method is the use of iodine crystals or tablets. These are available commercially at mountaineering stores as a product called 'Polar Pure' or 'Potable Agua'. Filters, such as the ones made by MSR, are also good. Either can be used or both can be used in combination. If you want to buy boiled water for your water bottles, you should bring some extra money. We also recommend that each participant bring a small bottle of a hand disinfectant such as Purell. Anything that we can do to stay healthy is worthwhile. Health issues will be discussed during the expedition and we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions before or during the trip.
Do I really need to bring the high altitude medications Nifedipine and Dexamethasome?
Our IMG guides are very experienced with dealing with altitude illness, but we are not allowed to provide prescription drugs to our customers. For this reason we ask each trekker to consult with their own physician and to bring their own emergency medications to use (while descending!) in case of onset of high altitude pulmonary or cerebral edema symptoms. These include Nifedipine and Dexamethasome, which will help to "buy some time" to get down to a lower altitude. The Nifedipine is useful for pulmonary edema (take one 30mg sustained release tablet every twelve hours) and the Dexamethasome is useful for cerebral edema (take one 4mg tablet every 6 hours). Our suggestion is that climbers each bring a few tablets of each medication (2 tabs of Nifedipine and 4 tabs of Dex is plenty) and that should be sufficient to provide one day of treatment so the patient can get down, if they start to get sick. For more information see this recent article in WILDERNESS & ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE, 21, 146-155 (2010).