1) DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Dehydration reduces your body’s ability to acclimatize properly. When at altitude you need to be drinking at a minimum 4 litres a day. There is less moisture in the air high up meaning that you will become dehydrated quicker than at sea level.
You will know you are drinking enough water by looking at the color of your urine, if it’s clear like water then you are hydrated, if its yellow you need to get drinking!!!
I cannot under estimate how important it is to drink plenty of water; it is probably one of the most important things you need to do in order to have a successful summit.
2) ASCEND SLOWLY
When climbing at high altitude, you should try to pace your ascent. You body usually needs 3-5 days at a particular altitude to acclimatize, this varies from person to person. The main point here is to give your body time adjust.
For example, if a helicopter was able to fly you to the summit of Everest and drop you off, you would be dead in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, if you had taken a few months to acclimatize to the various heights on the mountain and got to the summit gradually you would be fine, very tired, but fine.
3) GET REST
For anyone who has not been to altitude let me tell you something, it’s going to be hard to sleep, very hard. You will feel sick, you will have no appetite, you will be exhausted from the day’s activity and to top it all off you will find it very hard to get quality sleep and the higher you go the worse it will get.
So, do yourself a favor and establish a sleeping pattern from the get go. First of get a sleeping bag that will keep you warm!! Read this post on Sleeping Bags You need to invest in a premium sleeping bag for those chilly nights at high attitude, I cannot stress enough that investing in a good quality sleeping is as important as drinking enough water. If you do not get enough sleep you will not summit your mountain it’s as simple as that.
4) EAT WELL
High carbohydrate diets have shown in some studies to alleviate acute mountain sickness symptoms as well as improve mood and performance. Other studies have shown improved oxygen saturation in the blood during simulated high altitude experiments from the carbohydrates as well
I think its self explanatory that you should eat high carb food to give you the fuel to get up that mountain.
5) WEAR SUNSCREEN
Up high the sun is stronger that at sea level, how can this be I hear you ask. At altitude the sun’s rays are not filtered by our atmosphere like they are at sea level. This means the temperature is cooler and there is an increase in light intensity. The result being that you will burn much quicker high up than down low. It is very deceptive so you need to be careful and using sun block on your face and lips.
Also be careful if you are doing any glacier travel, the sun’s rays are reflected off the snow and even burn the pallet of your mouth. Sounds like fun doesn’t it!
6) CLIMB HIGH BUT SLEEP LOW
In order to give your body a chance to adapt and acclimatize the general approach is to climb high and sleep low. For example people climbing Aconcagua or Everest will set out from base camp and carry a load to camp 1, drop their gear and come back to base camp and sleep. The next step would be to move to camp 1 and repeat up to camp 2.
7) LIMIT CAFFEINE AND ALCOHOL
This should be self explanatory. Alcohol and coffee will dehydrate you. Try to stay away from these drinks.
By all means have a few drinks when you finish your summit attempt and are back at base camp, you will get drunk on 2 beers 🙂
So there you have it. Follow these simple tips and you should do fine at altitude. Being at altitude is tough but with the right preparation and determination you will get through it.
Stay tuned for our follow up blog about the different types of altitude sickness and how you should deal with them, until then, stay safe out there.