Altitude is the great leveller. No matter how fit you are or how well prepared you might be everybody must adjust to the different partial pressure experienced when climbing into increasingly thin air. Following are the 6 main steps you must take to tackle the heights.
1. Go slow. If climbing a mountain on an extended expedition do not rush around. Take it easy and extend your day to take in the sights and rest frequently. Set a pace that gives you enough energy for the next day and the next day after that.
2. Maximise your time acclimatising. There are many ways to skin a cat but by climbing a mountain by its quickest route you could be asking for trouble. Research the approach route carefully and see if there is a long way to the top. It takes time for your body to adjust.
3. Re-hydrate. Higher altitudes can de-hydrate you quicker than lower altitudes. The correct mantra should be “drinking a little water often” (sips) and your output clear and copious.
4. Increase fitness and endurance. Work on your cardio vascular and stamina fitness before your expedition to altitude. A strong fit body will withstand the demands of this environment much better and allow you to cope mentally by being more robust.
5. Climb high sleep low. This old climbing mantra still holds true. After having climbed to a high altitude for a day descend to sleep at least 300 meters lower. You’ll feel better rested and have more energy for the next day.
6. Eating and drinking. Meals high in carbohydrates will increase your body’s ability to absorb oxygen and will provide you with the necessary energy to cope with the demands of living at altitude. Alcoholic beverages act as a diuretic and should be avoided at high altitudes.