Saturday, May 1, 2010

Wilderness Awareness - High Altitudes

When going on a wilderness outing and there is a significant change in altitude involved you should always take time to acclimate. You can experience acute mountain sickness if you move too quickly above altitudes of more than 8,000 feet. Some people may even experience problems or become stressed at altitudes much lower than this height. The symptoms of altitude sickness may include shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea, headache and loss of appetite. You may also experience problems sleeping.

In order to minimize problems with altitude sickness you should follow some simple guidelines.

1.) The first thing to do is get in shape. You won't last long without the proper physical conditioning.

2.) The next thing to do is to allow yourself sufficient time to acclimate to the higher altitudes. This may take several days depending upon your physical conditioning and the altitude involved.

3.) Stay hydrated and reduce or limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages. Wait until you come down off the mountain to do any celebrating that involves alcohol consumption.

If you do experience symptoms that you are unable to tolerate, remember the first rule for treating altitude sickness is to "go lower". Head down the mountain till you start to feel better. A small change of a couple of thousand feet can make a world of difference in how you feel.

Another good thing to remember is to breathe deeply. Most people tend to take shallow breathes that limit their uptake of air into their lungs. Deep breaths will get more air into your lungs.

Upon reaching my known destination, a couple of days to get acclimated to the change in altitude is going to be one of the first priorities.

Altitude at my known destination: 7,249 Feet

Got attitude about altitude?

Staying above the water line!


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