Walking at high altitude
Many of our trips involve going to altitudes above 2500m. The altitudes involved for these trips are indicated in the relevant trip dossier. Generally speaking most people will acclimatise to the altitudes involved on our trips, although it is important to understand that people often acclimatise at different rates. The effects of altitude are something that you should be aware of and to combat the effects of altitude our itineraries are carefully planned to allow most people adequate acclimatisation. However, it is also extremely important that you take responsibility to allow yourself the best opportunity to acclimatise too.
As a general rule you can aid the acclimatisation process yourself by being disciplined and strictly adhering to the following:
- Drinking plenty of fluid- between at least 3-6 litres per day.
- Walk at a much slower pace than you would normally at lower altitudes.
- Refrain from the consumption of alcohol, tobacco and other things that cause dehydration.
- Eat a high-calorie diet.
- Before booking/ travelling visit your GP for a check up, discuss the trip and the altitudes involved. Ask your GP on their advice as to your own suitability for the trip. Request (and take with you) a prescription for Diamox, plus your GP's advice on when to use Diamox and how. Diamox is known to have a positive effect with the symptoms of AMS (see below), however it is important you follow the advice of your GP with regard to the use of Diamox.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, or have previously had symptoms of altitude related illnesses before it is imperative you seek your GP's advice before booking.
If you have any concerns about altitude we are always happy to offer altitude advice based on our many years of experience operating trips that involve high altitude. However, we must also emphasise that we are unable to provide qualified medical advice and thus would always strongly recommend you speak to your GP.
AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) is an illness that can occur at altitudes above 2500m and is quite common. However, for most people the symptoms are usually mild. It is important to recognise the signs of AMS, which can include sleeping difficulty, light headiness, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea/vomiting and being short of breath. Usually these symptoms are temporary and abate with acclimatisation but you should make your trip leader aware if you are suffering symptoms of AMS, as well as ensuring you are following points "a-d" above.
Although rare, there is always the risk of complications especially at more extreme altitudes (above 3500m) and you should be aware of these.
We asked the Walks Worldwide team about their experiences with altitude, read our Guide to High Altitude Trekking on our blog.
More information on altitude sickness and complications can be found here.