Things to be considered while trekking in High Altitude

Trekking on the high mountain is always fun. A journey ill-prepared, however, may lead one to an unexpected disaster. Trekkers taking it easy (going slow, taking enough rest, and spending adequate rest days for proper acclimatization) usually have very little to talk about high altitude sickness. But those with aims to break records are the ones who suffer the most.

Time for breaks has a significant role to play in this context. The more you have it, the safer you are. In other words, more flexible schedules help to escape, while tight ones usually lead to problems.

Altitude sickness, its types of Symptoms, and also the preventive measures

Altitude sickness is also known as acute mountain sickness, altitude illness, hypobaropathy, Acosta sickness, puna, and soroche.

The condition typically occurs at altitudes higher than, 8000 bases( ft), or, 2500 meters( m), and is generally due to a lack of oxygen. A person who isn’t used to high elevation is most at risk of developing altitude sickness. The condition isn’t to be taken easily and can lead to serious difficulties Altitude Sickness, divided into three categories, is very common in the high mountains.

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

It is an illness trekkers feel on the high mountain while walking uphill. It could just be anything- unspecific complications and/or difficulties.

High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)

Considered to be more dangerous, HAPE is the result of the formation of unnecessary fluid in the lungs.

High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE)

This is the most dangerous all. HACE is caused by the formation of water in the brain. HACE makes the brain unable to function properly and in a balanced manner. Physical complication or problem on the trek means your body has difficulty adjusting to the atmosphere. The higher altitude you go, the less oxygen there is in the environment on the trekking trails. It is estimated that an altitude of about 4,500 meters has less than 50 percent oxygen compared to the sea level.

Acclimatization in trekking

Go slow. Give yourself time to rest. Take enough breaks. Have adequate rest days. This is the only way you allow your body the amount of time it requires to be familiar with the sudden change in the atmosphere.


Symptoms begin to appear at an altitude of 3,000 meters (10,000 ft). You can never be specified and spell out the names of all the symptoms. There may be hundreds of them unclear and unspecific! Altitude sickness is very common in areas above 3,000m. Be prepared to accept whatever complication you have as a symptom at least until the time you have proved it otherwise.


Based on reports obtained so far from research and surveys conducted on cases of altitude sickness, here are a few that could clearly be said are the most common symptoms.


Every time you have a headache does not mean you have altitude sickness while trekking. Take a break. If your headache is anything other than a symptom of altitude sickness, it should go off after a rest of about two hours. If you still have it even after a complete rest, it is a symptom. Do not go higher.


The word tiredness is enough to make you laugh and say it is not unusual for one to feel tired after a day-long walk especially when you walk uphill or go faster than normal. That may be so, but the question is how long it will take you to recover. After a rest of two hours, you should regain the energy and spirit needed for your climb further. Avoid going higher if you do not recover even after a complete rest.


  • often complains of not feeling well and always says he is tired and walks with a lot of difficulties
  • arrives at his campsite very late and is always the last one on the row on the trail
  • spends more time inside his sleeping bag and is never ready for a climb
  • is often seen lying on the ground


Check your pulse. It is 60 a minute on average in normal conditions. If it remains at around 100, consider it a symptom. It is quite normal for it to go high when you walk uphill or faster than normal. Don’t panic! A 30-minute break should bring it down to the average beat.


Because of dry and cold temperatures at higher altitudes, it is not unusual for one to cough. Take a break and check the improvement after rest.


Everyone will have labor breathing walking uphill or faster! Take a break. If you still have it even after rest, it positively is a symptom. Do not go higher.


The more you eat the better it is for you since your body requires a lot of energy to continue functioning properly and to remain balanced. But if you lose your appetite and begin to throw out at the same time, it is quite dangerous.


If you walk as if you are drunk, it is probably the most dangerous symptom of altitude sickness. Watch out! Your brain may have been adversely affected. It is normal for one to lose balance after a long and hard walk. Take a 30-minute break and then walk in a straight line (about 15 steps) in such a way that your toe touches the heel. You certainly have a serious problem if you fail to do it properly after rest.

Who mostly suffers from Altitude sickness?

  • Too enthusiastic teenagers
  • Members in organized groups with inadequate time for acclimatization
  • Those who have more money than time; are always in a hurry to catch a plane flying in and out
  • Those who claim or are proud to be physically fit

How to prevent High Altitude sickness

To reduce the risk of altitude sickness, the following precautionary measures are suggested:

Diamox 250 mg: This medicine will help you to stay away from altitude illness. Consult with your doctor for the recommended dose.

Do not go too fast, or too high when you are at an altitude of 3,000m or above, and start walking uphill. Take it easy! Go slow.

Limited gain in altitude: Make Sure your total gain in altitude Between the place you wake up and the one you sleep at the end of the day is not more than 300 m or 1000 ft.

Acclimatize: Spend two nights resting after a gain of every 1000 meters each

Drink a lot: Considering the dry climate at high altitude, drinking four liters of liquid regularly each day helps to as reduce the risk.

No alcohol: Since they only help to hide the symptoms, avoid taking alcohol and sleeping pills.

Carry only a light backpack: Those carrying heavy backpacks are seen running into trouble often. Minimize the Weight of your pack. Try to bring it down to 8 kg.

Do not listen to others: Altitude sickness is unpredictable. Your age or the shape and size of your body have absolutely no role to play. One of the two or more trekkers in a group may develop the symptom at any time but others may not. Do not let others pressure you. If you think you have the symptom, do not go higher.

Altitude sickness is not as serious as it can be said. It is estimated that about 30 percent of trekkers suffer from altitude sickness, but only a few cases end up as real disasters every year.

If you make a note of the following and be prepared to act accordingly, it is almost guaranteed that you will not run into problems.

Always be able to identify the symptom at its earliest stage. If you think you have developed the symptom, do not go higher. If the symptoms disappear after rest, continue on your journey.

If symptoms remain unchanged even after taking complete rest, consider going downhill.

If symptoms begin to get worse while you are resting, immediately go downhill. Say, your symptom started as a simple headache but you begin to throw out in an hour. You must go down immediately even if it is in the middle of the night or you need to be carried on the back of a porter.

Still, your sickness increases after you bring it down to a low altitude then you need to have a helicopter rescue.

what is helicopter rescue and how it operates?

You have to be very lucky to find a doctor around or a health post nearby in the high mountains. A doctor with no equipment and health posts with inadequate medicines can be of no help to you anyway.

Requesting helicopters could either be very simple or too complicated, depending on your location. You cannot expect to pick up a phone or use your cell phone and dial the numbers. Most of the national park offices, army check posts, police check posts, and project offices in the mountain areas have their communication network which links with their respective offices in Kathmandu. You should try to use whatever is close to you in your area in case of an emergency.

Helicopters do not usually fly until their cost is paid for in advance or someone responsible has guaranteed the payment. Ask your consul at the embassy to arrange the helicopter for you. Include all important information in your message addressed to your embassy in Kathmandu such as name, passport number, location, illness/ injury, and insurance company (if you have one). Although the embassy has no funds for your evacuation, it can at least guarantee payment on your trekking itinerary. This way they will know for sure to whom they are sending trekking the helicopter.

Though they may be the only means for your emergency evacuation, helicopter rescue is very expensive. Do not ask for it unless necessary. Army helicopters, which are hard to find at times, are cheaper than other helicopters provided by private airlines which are higher in cost.

Well, just keep your fingers crossed and hope you don’t run into a situation that requires Emergency Rescue Evacuation. Prevention is much better than cure, so be aware of the conditions in which you are.

Enjoy your trekking in Nepal.

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