How to prepare for high altitude hike and dealing with altitude sickness.Back

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Hiking is a fun activity, it needs less preparation and training when it is done at lower altitude, but in higher altitude it’s a whole different story. Anything above 1800meters or 5900 feet requires special attention, training and preparation.  Higher altitude often means less oxygen and your body works extra hard to cope with the height.  

Plan your hike in advance

You should acquire all the information related with the hike, such as the timing of the hike, duration of the hike, detailed maps of the hiking terrain and the resources required for the hike. Resources includes money, equipment and proper guidelines.

Consult a doctor

Consult a doctor before starting the training to check if there are any problems with your body that may put your life at risk.


Training for the high altitude hike  

Training is an important part in hiking, it helps to keep the lungs and heart healthy. The main aim of training is to keep your body in good shape so that it can withstand the pressures and tensions of trekking.  


Start the training as early as possible

Hikers should start training well in advance, it will give your body enough time to adjust with the new schedule.  It is important to start training 6 months before the difficult hikes.

Training location

It is really good if you can train at higher altitudes, 1400 meters or above, this will help your body to get used to the low oxygen environments.  Go to your nearest hill even if it doesn’t have the specified height but it is better than nothing.

Training methods

Cycling and swimming helps to improve the cardio vascular endurance.Walking and running will help to improve the cardio vascular fitness. Don’t forget the backpacks with some added weights while training, it will create the similar conditions of hiking. Use different kind of exercises such as push ups, climbing stairs, sit-ups and small weight lifting to strengthen your muscles.  Spent at least one hour for training each day, the more you do the better it gets.

What kind of food should we eat while training for hiking?

Excess body weight is hindrance while trekking, it is advised to keep a healthy body weight. Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) to know the required weight for each person.

Food plays an important role while training for the hike.  Hikers should focus on healthy diet that helps to improve the muscles, red blood cells and mitochondrial density.   The essential food items while training for hiking includes fish, flax, meat, pulses, fish oil, nuts, fruits and also the normal food for the daily functioning.


Important points to note before starting the real hike

Plan the route map: you can use GPS, but it is better if you could learn to navigate using sun and night sky because you can't always trust the gadgets. Analyse the hidden dangers, learn some survival techniques and get information about local wild food items.

Plan the food supply: chocolates, energy bars, bananas, foods that is rich in slow burning carbohydrate, nuts, seeds, cheese and meat are the best for hiking. Check your water supply  and fluids to stay hydrated.

Hikers should arrive at the hiking location before 2-3 days, it will help the body to adjust with the local climate and altitude. Carry enough clothes, jackets and hiking gears.  Hats, sun glass, suns cream, hiking shoes, sleeping bags, insect replants, compass, first aid kit and tent are essential for the hike. 

Learn about AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness)or High Altitude Sickness  symptoms and precautions.

Let your close ones know about your location and what you are about to do.  

Performing the real hike; on the day of hike

Drinks and food

Drink water to stay hydrated. Don’t forget to eat, as your body burns more energy in the higher altitude. Do not consume alcohol. 

Slow climb is the key to successful hiking

Do not rush, take breaks and get enough sleep.  Slow climbing is the proper way to perform the hikes, once you reach 6000 feet rest for 1-2 days. But once you reach 9000 feet do not climb more than 300 meters in a day.  Acclimatization is important while hiking, it can take up to 1-3 days.


Check for the vital signs of dangers

It is common for hikers to experience headaches, nausea, dizziness, lack of hunger, lack of thirstiness, disorientation and breathlessness but these are also symptoms of AMS. Do not avoid these symptoms, take rest or descent immediately.   Inform your hiking partner about the condition, every hiking partner must learn about how to deal with the AMS.

Let go of your ego

Hiking is a dangerous game, hikers should always be prepared to turn around. Don’t let the ego get the best of you, Quit when you feel like you can’t take it anymore or when someone in your group is not well. It is disappointing but nothing is bigger than life.

Now prepare yourself and enjoy the hiking.

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