Acclimatization is essential for high altitude activity.
There are no medicines that guard against acclimatizing to
the altitude, and fitness is not a substitute (sometimes fit
youngsters tend to have more problems). Acclimatization is
an inevitable and normal process that takes different timing
on every individual. The process, when traveling to high altitude
lands, gradually adapts ones body to the lower atmospheric
For example, upon arrival at Leh (3600 Mts.) from sea level,
breathing increases by 50% in order to maintain an adequate
oxygen-carrying capacity in the blood. Because of that increase
in the respiration and perspiration, the body loses water
much faster than at sea level.
Some people may get a mild form of altitude sickness, which symptoms are: breathlessness, accelerated pulse, lethargy, mild headache, fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite and dehydration.
It takes about 5 months living at the high altitude for the body to become completely acclimatized (actually it takes 3 generations to get fully acclimatized, so if you decide to live at high-altitudes, your grandchildren will be born with high altitude physiological adaptation). However, depending on the individual, 3-4 days should be adequate time for the travelers to adjust and begin physical activities without any health risk.
We suggest you to mind the following considerations for a successful acclimatization for your holidays in Himalayas and beyond.
For Example, coming to Leh OR Lhasa by plane, you arrive at 3600 Mts. / 11800 ft. It is 99% sure that you will get a mild form of altitude sickness. With proper acclimatization most of these symptoms disappear within a few days.
To reduce the risk of altitude sickness you should: drink enough liquids (check your urine periodically to make sure it is pale in color, dark yellow urine indicates that you are getting dehydrated), eat light (low fat food high in carbohydrates), and rest (take it easy and relax). Alcoholic drinks may not help during the acclimatization process.
Spend 1 or 2 days doing very little visiting monasteries, traveling by car, restricting intense physical activity, shopping (take it very easy on steep streets), and city touring, or walking for short distances.
Normally after a couple of days, you will be ready to do some light physical activity at the highlands (i.e. hiking), or traveling by car/4WD trip for longer hours.
Trekking and Climbing
Our treks are planned for gradual increase in altitude and sleeping at low located camps during nights, you are suggested to spend as much as time possible at higher altitudes during days drive or trek, for faster acclimatization.
The quality of sleep is normally poor at high camps. Some people may have problems during the night: mild headache, waking-up several times feeling the lack of oxygen, or having strange and very vivid dreams. All this symptoms are relatively normal when sleeping above 4500 m (14700 ft).
Travelers to high altitude are normally suggested to take
Diamox (Acetazolamide) when flying directly to high altitude.
This chemical supposedly speeds up the acclimatization process,
by acidifying the blood. That accelerates the respiration
in order to promote better oxygen absorption.
You should consult your doctor for a prescription and possible
side effects that occur in some individuals. This drug possesses
diuretic characteristics and may also cause dehydration. Some
people have reported a prolonged tingling sensation in their
High Altitude Pulmonary Edema HAPE
Symptoms include: pink saliva and sputum, blue lips, labored breathing, fluid in the lungs. If you suspect the onset of HAPE, descend immediately and consult a specialist. This is a more serious form of altitude sickness.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema HACE
Although rare, it can be fatal. Symptoms include: severe headache, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, disorientation, visual problems, abnormal behavior, and eventually loss of conscience, coma or even death. If you suspect the onset of HACE, descend immediately and consult a specialist
Mountain Trails does not take responsibility of clients who
are unable to finish a trip or get sick due to improper acclimatization.