Rising Above High Altitude
As 2017 winds down, we're getting a head start on trek safety
Seasons greetings everyone! Hopefully you all enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones as you gear up for the next round of December holidays. It's always an exciting time to catch up with everyone and tell them about the incredible adventure you're about to take on. In turn, they probably have a lot of questions for you including your safety up on the mountain. That's why this month's newsletter is centered around one of the most common safety concerns , but more on that later.
It's been a busy month here at Choose a Challenge, wrapping up registration and continuing to move our teams forward in their fundraising journeys. We've had some exciting milestones happen as well. For starters we had one of our first trekkers not only achieve his fundraising target, but EXCEED it as well! This was perfect timing as we launched our #HowWeRaise campaign to give our trekkers a social media hashtag to showcase their fundraising efforts and help raise awareness for their individual causes.
As mentioned earlier, we'll be tackling one of the most common aspects of trekking up safely to high elevations--Acclimatization. We'll also give you a sneak peak into our new HQ in Dumbo Heights, Brooklyn as well!
I'm sure we're all looking forward to snapping a few pictures and seeing the breathtaking views at the peak of all of your trips. But the one thing to keep in mind and educate yourself further on is what it's actually like to climb to these high elevations. That's where altitude sickness comes into play, and it's often one of the most common occurrences hikers encounter as they climb to above average heights. So let's take a basic approach to understanding what exactly you'll be dealing with:
What is High Altitude?
- Many experts define high altitude as generally "anything over 8,000 ft to 12,000 ft above sea level." All of our trips will exceed this elevation at some point, which is why defining exactly what high altitude is, is so important.
What are the highest levels of elevation on my trip?
- Machu Picchu Trek: around 15,000 ft (highest point on Salkantay Pass)
- Everest Base Camp Trek: 18,514 ft (highest peak reached at Kala Pattar)
- Mt. Kilimanjaro Trek: 19,341 ft (Peak of Mountain at Uhuru Peak)
What causes altitude sickness?
- As you climb further up there becomes less oxygen in the air, thus your body has to work harder and adjust accordingly. So, one of the major reasons you start to feel ill is because you're often times going up too high too fast. Some of the common symptoms include headaches, dizziness, shortness of breath, etc. Luckily you'll always have ways to help combat this while up on the mountain (see question 6 below).
Does everyone experience altitude sickness?
- No. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people get it and some people don't, and some people are more susceptible than others.
So how does acclimatization help me while hiking?
- Given time, your body can adapt to the decrease in oxygen at a higher altitude. This is why working in acclimatization treks along your route can help you better physically prepare. You'll often hear the phrase "Climb High and sleep low." This is a common motto used by experienced climbers. Meaning, you can climb higher up during the day, just as long as you come back down and sleep at a lower altitude at night. All of your treks offer the option to take these acclimatization treks as well.
What can I do to combat altitude sickness?
- Eat & Hydrate! Drinking water constantly, having a high carbohydrate diet and staying nourished with the right foods can make a big difference. While on the mountain, you'll have proper meals prepared for you every day by our cooks who know exactly what your body needs.
- Take Diamox, which is medicine designed to help you breathe faster so that you metabolize more oxygen, which can minimize symptoms.
- Talking to your guides about how you are feeling so they can use their expertise to coach you and help you out.
What can I do before my departure date to help?
- Improving your physical health before the trek will help, but it will not affect whether or not you'll experience altitude sickness overall. We always recommend incorporating a cardio and/or weightlifting program before heading out to help your body get used to pushing itself.
The important thing to know is that at the end of the day our goal is to get you to the peak of your trek and we have experienced people who have done it many times before. However, with that being said the content above is derivative of our past trekking experience. Thus, We always advise consulting a medical professional before embarking on any high-intensity climbing.
(a new) Home for the holidays
We're excited to announce that we have moved into a bigger and more modern office space at the WeWork building in Dumbo Heights
- Full Kitchen including an espresso machine and on-site barista
- Modern common area spaces, private phone booths & laptop stations
- Office window views of the Williamsburg Bridge and beyond to the Manhattan skyline
Want to see more?
Be on the lookout for our Office Tour video coming soon to our NEW YouTube channel launching January 2018!
It's shaping up to be an exciting month for us here at Choose a Challenge and we can't wait to share more with you in 2018!