Preparing for that High Altitude Trek?? Treks above 3000 meters need additional preparation to ensure that you enjoy your time on the Mountain!? Proper Acclimatization is key!
Rules of proper Acclimatization
Acclimatization?is the process in which an individual body?copes up and?adjusts to the?change in its environment. The various factors of the environment change may be cold, heat, altitude from sea level, atmospheric pressure, etc. It allows the body?to remain normal and maintain performance across a range of environmental conditions.? We need to acclimatize well to complete a high altitude trek and if this can be done naturally, your body can adapt well.
How Does Human Body Acclimatize To High Altitude ?
With increase in altitude, the atmospheric pressure decreases which gives more space to the air molecules and the oxygen molecules goes far apart from each other. This results is low oxygen molecule per breath. Our body detects that and responds by increasing the?breathing?rate ( hypoxia) We call it breathlessness in laymen terms. We try to breathe more to consume more air. The process of breathing more reduces the concentration of Carbondioxide in our blood, which results in?increasing the pH of our blood, thus?making our blood alkaline and our body urinates more to re-acidify the blood by excreting bicarbonates. ( Diamox enhances this process which is why it is given to patients with kidney problems )
But, as the body increases the Hemoglobin count in our blood which are the oxygen carriers to hold?more oxygen molecules in our?blood. This process thickens our blood and hence our heart now need to pump thicker blood to the extreme organs, which further results in increased blood pressure. So a slight increased blood pressure and pulse rate in the high altitude is normal. Acclimatization is a process which takes time depending on the individual body.
3 rules of Acclimatization
Acclimatization has 3 simple rules:
- Climb High Sleep Low
- Slow Ascend,?Do Not Over Exert
- Hydrate Hydrate and Hydrate
Best Ways to Acclimatize Naturally
- walk slow on approach days, even if you can walk faster. That allows your body the time required to adjust to the new extreme environment.
- bring a well hydrated body to the mountains. Start hydrating your body well before leaving your home, may be 2 – 3 days before you leave. A fit person always stays?hydrated.
- do not consume high concentrated?alcohol drinks 2 – 3 days before heading to the mountains, also while on treks, refrain from drinking hard drinks. Too much coffee isn’t good either. Water, and other re-hydrating drinks?are the best.
- do not cover yourself fully. Lets your sense organs sense the actual conditions outside and send correct messages to your brain to work it out for you. Allow your skin to feel the cold. Your ears are pressure and cold sensors. Keep that open while gaining altitude,?unless there is a cold blizzard blowing.
- Get proper sleep. Its the most important thing. Its when your body recovers and prepares for the next day/ altitude. If there is anything that is disturbing your sleep, resolve that or bring that to immediate notice to your team mates and team leader.
- Ensure proper blood circulation, whic helps adapting to environmental change. Enhance blood circulation by taking hot garlic soups, raw?garlic, remaining active, but not by exerting too?much.
- After reaching campsite, ease?out a bit. Do not get into your tents and sleeping bags immediately. Have a light time. Explore the place. Go for acclimatization walks. If you have not followed “climb high sleep low” during the day’s trek, do that now. Climb a bit higher which will be complimented with better views of the surrounding. If you are feeling dizzy, or exhausted, take rest and let everyone know of your discomfort or lack of energy in putting that extra effort.
- Eat light but full. Consume less spicy foods and foods which are easy to digest.