Trekking through the mountains is on many people’s bucket list.
There is something truly magical about exploring distant peaks and exploring nature in its purest and most astounding form.
As incredible as the mountains are, they also pose some challenges that don’t exist on sea level. If you want to take on the mighty Himalayas trademark treks, you need to prepare yourself properly.
Prepare for Trekking at High Altitudes
In this article, I will cover some techniques that you can use to prepare yourself for trekking at high altitudes.
Acclimatize To The Altitude
The air in high altitudes is different from the air at sea level. Most people notice that they’re more fatigued, and some even succumb to altitude sickness.
Acclimatization is the key to dealing with high altitude.
Do not reach a high altitude place with the intention of trekking right away. You need some time to adjust to the air. Give yourself at least a few days to get used to the atmosphere before attempting any treks.
Some people find that they get winded performing activities that otherwise would not cause a lot of physical stress, like climbing a flight of stairs or walking uphill.
It’s completely normal for your body to behave differently at high altitudes. Listen to what your body needs and take it easy.
It generally takes between one to three days to acclimatize properly.
Recognize The Signs Of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness is the bane of anyone who wants to explore heights. It’s caused by a lack of oxygen in the air and can manifest itself in fairly unpleasant ways.
Altitude sickness is generally not fatal, but you should seek medical attention if symptoms don’t get better within a few days of being at a high altitude.
Symptoms Of Altitude Sickness
Altitude sickness usually manifests itself as a pounding headache, shortness of breath and dizziness.
You might find yourself having trouble sleeping or being more irritable than usual. Some people have reported nausea or food sensitivity.
When you first arrive at a place that has a higher altitude, try to avoid eating any foods that will irritate your stomach, limit drinking, and stay hydrated.
How To Cope With Altitude Sickness
Over-the-counter medicines like Excedrin will help with headaches and body aches.
Additionally, you should rest as much as possible. Drink plenty of fluids, especially water. It helps minimize the effects of altitude.
If you start to feel really sick make sure that you seek medical attention.
Don’t Push Too Hard Too Quickly
You might have that dream trek in mind, but it pays to start small.
Remember, you might have a ton of endurance back home, but you are substantially weaker at high altitudes – at least a first. Test the waters with a few easy treks before you go for the big ones.
This advice is especially true for people who don’t have previous experience trekking at high altitudes. You will be tempted to brush off the signs of altitude sickness or fatigue, but if you do that you’ll only be setting yourself up for failure.
Think of going on some smaller hikes as a great way to start to learn the terrain. Enjoy your first few hikes instead of pushing yourself too hard.
You’ll have a much better experience and your body will thank you!
Staying hydrated is one of the best ways that you can combat the effects of high altitude.
There is generally less humidity at higher altitudes so you are getting less water into your body already.
Hydration is also important when it comes to fighting off altitude sickness. You will decrease the frequency and intensity of your headaches simply by staying properly hydrated.
You might also find that you have less of an appetite at high altitudes, so supplementing your diet with plenty of water will keep your body moving smoothly.
If you find yourself completely without any appetite, remember to try to eat something to keep your stomach full. You need high-quality fuel, especially if you are planning to do a lot of hiking and trekking.
Hydrate with plenty of water and other fluids. Avoid drinking too much coffee or soda, as they will only dehydrate you. You want to take extra-good care of your body.
Don’t Celebrate Too Much
Speaking of dehydration, stay away from the alcohol.
As tempting as it might be to celebrate the end of a great trek with one, or many, libations it is not a great idea to be throwing back beers at high altitudes. You will probably find that your alcohol tolerance is substantially lowered the higher that you climb.
Additionally, alcohol dehydrates you and can lead to some particularly fierce hangovers.
Since the symptoms of altitude sickness already feel like a hangover, you don’t want to compound them by drinking alcohol. Avoid drinking while trekking as well.
Even a slight buzz is a recipe for disaster. Keep sober and enjoy those mountain peaks with a totally clear mind.
Remember Your Sunscreen
Although the mountains can seem chilly, don’t be fooled by the lower temperatures.
The sun is fierce at the top of the world, and you could wind up blistering your skin. Many experienced mountaineers know that sunscreen is one of the most important components of their trekking bag.
If you are trekking in a place where there’s a lot of snow, sunscreen is mandatory. The sunlight will reflect off the snow and blast your exposed skin.
Remember to apply it all over your body, including places that you might not think about like your earlobes and the thin band of skin between your gloves and the cuffs of your jacket. Make sure that your sunscreen is at least 40 SPF.
In addition to sunscreen, you’ll want to make sure that you bring plenty of lip balm. Lips can blister and chap when exposed to the extreme sun. Protect your sensitive skin and you’ll have a far more pleasant hike.
Prepare For The Elements
The mountains are nothing if not unpredictable. The weather can change swiftly from one moment to the next, so remember to carry good trekking shoes, backpack, pack a poncho, extra pairs of socks and plenty of layers.
Get some good-quality sunglasses and gloves that are thick enough to keep your hands warm, but malleable enough to allow you to navigate through crevices and climb peaks.
Be prepared for intense conditions at the top of the world!
Additionally, remember that the mountains are home to any number of different animals. Watch out for snakes, larger predators and other creatures that you might find on the trail.
Depending on when you’re trekking, you might want to invest in some pepper spray to ward off animals like bears or cougars. Bring a whistle with you in case you need to summon help.
Learn Basic Directions
You will not have the luxury of WiFi at the top of the mountain, so make sure that you have a basic understanding of what direction you are heading in.
It’s simple enough to look at the sun and figure out roughly where you are going. Since the sun rises in the east and set in the west, look at its position in the sky and make your calculations from there.
On another note, never veer off the marked trail.
Many people find themselves in serious trouble by exploring too far off the beaten path. There could be dangerous wildlife, unpredictable terrain or any other number of threats.
Even experienced hikers should stick to the marked trail. Also, remember to let someone know where you are going and what time you are expected back. This way, if the worst happens, others will be alerted and send out a search party for you.
Don’t Go It Alone
Trekking at high altitudes can be treacherous, so it’s better to use the buddy system.
If you run into a bad situation or get injured, having a second person around could be the difference between life and death. Additionally, hiking with multiple people means that there are many people to share the load, handle all of the hiking supplies, and bounce ideas off.
It’s fun to hike with multiple people too. You’ll be sharing once-in-a-lifetime experiences and sights with someone else. Plan to have at least one trekking buddy with you at all times.
If you are reasonably athletic, there is no reason why you can’t explore the highest reaches of the world. Today, just about any mountain terrain is accessible to everyone. Make sure that you have the most positive experience by following the steps outlined here, and get ready to hit the trail!
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