15 Tips To Help You Prepare For High Altitude Trek
Nepal is home to eight out of the 14 highest mountains in the world above 8,000M with diverse geography, culture, people, and language. The altitude ranges from 58 M to 8,848m above sea level, offering diverse travel experiences to travelers over the past years. High elevation treks are very popular, given their topographic ruggedness. Some of those treks include Annapurna Base Camp, Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit, Upper Dolpa, Manaslu Circuit Trek, and so on. Any trek above 2,400 meters is considered high altitude. High altitude treks are physically and mentally demanding, but they also offer the experience of a lifetime. Since such treks involve greater risk, you should prepare yourself for the challenge so that you can enjoy the entire journey with all your heart. Here are some tips for you to get started.
Medical checkup /Consult your doctor
You must check and know any pre-existing or underlying health or medical conditions in your body before you start. In that case, carry the medication required, and let your friends or guide know about it.
Build the right training Plan
Trekking requires a tremendous amount of physical and mental strength. So, train your body and mind accordingly to meet the type you plan to do. With right training, you will not only be physically fit, but also will be able to enjoy the walk and the surrounding.
Attitude and altitude make a wrong cocktail when it comes to high altitude treks. So, acclimatization is the key. It means adjusting to the changing environment and elevation. This process of allowing the body to adapt to change allows the trekker to get comfortable and perform better. Usually, above 3000 meters, it is recommended to take a day or two rest and ascend no more than 500 meters per day. That said, always remember the golden rule: step up the altitude gradually–the only way out to keep the AMS at bay.
At higher altitudes, the air gets thinner and dryer, making you lose excessive body fluid. The oxygen level in the air decreases, making you breathe in and out faster. And you tend to lose more water during respiration. You also lose body fluid in the form of sweat. Besides, you urinate more at high altitudes. Consequently, you have to compensate for the fluid loss in your body by drinking water frequently. Drink 4-5 liters of water per day as per your need.
Understand the basics of altitude sickness
It is normal to detect some changes in your body and mild headaches being one, as you go higher. But it is best to get informed about the different stages of altitude sickness to avoid the risk.Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS): It is caused by low oxygen in the body at higher altitudes (above 2,500 meters falls under a high altitude zone). Headache, fatigue, insomnia, shortness of breath, and nausea are some of the symptoms. Acclimatization is the best treatment for AMS.
- High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE): It is the condition when the fluid builds up in the lungs it gets difficult to breathe. It can occur in an otherwise healthy person at altitudes typically above 2,500 meters (8,200 ft.). Shortness of breath, at rest, extreme fatigue, dry cough or wet cough with frothy sputum, fever are some of the symptoms. It could lead to a higher risk if not treated on time. Trekkers with HAPE symptoms should immediately descend to a lower altitude and visit the nearest hospital in case of emergency.
- High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE): In this case, excess fluid builds up in the brain. Crucial symptoms include a change in mental state, difficulty in coordination, hallucination, unconsciousness, confusion, lethargy, and so on. The patient with HACE symptoms needs immediate evacuation for further treatment.
Do not rush matters
Walk slowly but at a constant pace. Avoid pushing your limits and conserve your energy; better save it for other days. The more you rush, the more chances are of you getting altitude sickness. Always remember the mantra “Slow and steady wins the race”.
Research about the type of food
High altitude treks are physically very demanding. Intake of foods high in carbohydrates, in addition to protein and fat, are beneficial to the body. More calories will help to aid your body in adapting to the altitude and fuel extra energy. Besides, before starting the trek, research the type of food available on the trail. Carry energy bars and nuts for instant energy.
Trekking at high-altitude not only requires proper planning but also choosing the correct clothing. There should be a balance between “the too-less and the too-much.”
While trekking, a base layer is most important and, usually, it consists of a shirt, under-garments, and socks. Wearing breathable and non-itchy fabrics as a base layer makes all the difference. For mid-layer, a light fleece jacket would do. It would come in handy during morning time and while taking a rest while walking. Fleece is breathable and even dries fast.
Down insulated jackets can be worn as a mid-layer too. They are easy to pack and highly compressible. It offers more warmth than any other insulating clothing.
For outer-layer, water-resistant/breathable shells are blessings at high altitude. They are suitable for drizzle, wind, and many conditions. The higher the price higher the durability.
Good boots, Good backpack, Good Trek
Branded bags and boots never let you down. Besides, the proper size of bags and boots are very crucial for higher altitude trek. Carry only the essential gears.
Good boots make your feet feel good. The right size of boot matters a lot. The pair of boots is the only gear you will wear for multiple hours, so spending a handsome amount on it is ideal. Also, an extra pair of supportive insoles would enhance support and add comfort to your feet. At high elevations, sometimes, the weather changes instantly, and you might encounter snow. At those times, waterproof boots come in handy.
Go for the best
Packing all necessary gear required for trekking is essential, but that doesn’t mean carrying the superfluous. That’s where investing in branded but expensive articles wins the battle. They are trustworthy and built for higher altitudes.
Understand the geography of the trek area
Having a good understanding of the terrain you are going to trek is crucial and enables you to plan well, train right, and acquire proper gear.
Pick the right season to trek
Researching about the place and weather conditions before a trek is helpful. There is no specific month for trekking. It all depends on how you wish to go about it. Every season is blessed differently. Monsoon brings freshness, autumn brings clarity, and springs are warmer and longer while winters are chilly.
Trek with professionals
Professional guides have years of experience in high altitude trekking. So, they understand the risks and how to manage them. The guides are well qualified and hold a better understanding of the terrain. Professionals can mentally prepare you and assist you against rugged terrain and give you a sense of security.
Insurance is a must for trekking at high altitude. Research well before buying the right insurance policy before starting your trek with peace of mind. Even hospitals are far away while trekking high altitudes. So, a minor complication such as a fractured bone might need a helicopter-rescue.
While some may be affected with gastro issues, too, the insurance should cover other illnesses besides possible accidents that might occur.
Get ready to have Fun
Plan with all your heart. Leave behind all your worries at home, and get ready to embark upon a journey of self-discovery.
“Prevention is better than cure” so, take all the necessary measures beforehand so that you can enjoy your trip to the fullest and be prepared to overcome any challenges. Nepal Hiking Team has been working relentlessly for over 10 years to create qualified professionals to provide quality service to adventure lovers in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. We are a leading trekking agency in Nepal accredited with an excellence award by TripAdvisor for nine consecutive years. So, when in Nepal, remember us for the best experience of a lifetime.