Each spring, over 500 climbers take the risky adventure on Mount Everest. But, despite the ‘death traps,’ the success rate has doubled over the last three decades. This is because mountaineers have learned various ways to survive the dangers such as altitude sickness to explore different routes around the mountain.
One of the joyous and mythical routes is Everest Base Camp Trek which lies 5,364 meters high and about 3,000 meters below the peak. As you climb towards the camp, you will experience an altitude change of about 300 m. So, you have to prepare well to avoid altitude sickness.
Here are the tricks to help you survive such a risk!
Train before going for the expedition
You do not need any altitude or technical experience to trek up to the Everest Base Camp. However, it would help if you were physically fit and have the endurance required to complete the trek successfully. So, to condition your body for the task ahead, it is important to train your body to endure the pressures and regular strains at high altitudes.
Engage in intense physical exercise at least 4-5 days for six months before the trip. For example, you can walk uphill on a stairmaster for 1-2 hours each day and take a longer trip in the hills once a week. This way, you build strength and endurance that help minimize the risk of altitude sickness during the expedition on the mountain.
Success in the Everest Base Camp trek requires you to be mentally prepared. It is a challenging experience, and only the determined can withstand the struggles. The fear of getting altitude sickness might take over, making you contract the illness. Thus, it would help if you prepared mentally for the discomfort you are likely to experience while trekking the mountains.
Some of the things that await you include going to the toilet in a bush, taking baby wipes showers, dealing with dirt, bugs and camping in the scary location. However, if you know and are ready for difficult situations, you are likely to overcome even altitude sickness.
The pace of ascending the mountain is essential for your safety and success in getting to your target. You do not have to trek faster as the body needs time to adjust to the decreasing oxygen levels. Keep it slow but steady throughout the journey to also help maintain a manageable heart rate. As a result, you will keep going and spend less energy that lowers the fatigue level during the adventure. Note that fatigue is one of the major factors that could lead to altitude sickness. So, the more you keep the pace slow, the higher the chance of surviving the illness.
Take acclimatization rests
When trekking at a high altitude, your body needs time to adjust to the low oxygen levels on the mountain. You can achieve this by taking at least 2-3 days to acclimatize. The acclimatization rest requires you to hike as high as possible and then descend to lower locations for overnight sleep.
The first acclimatization when approaching the Base Camp is Namche Bazaar, at about 3400 m high. You will have to hike up to about 3880 m before returning to the acclimatization location for rest. The second spot is about 4400 m high, and trekkers normally hike to 5100 m before returning there for overnight sleep.
During the acclimatization period, take walks and engage in other physical activities to keep your body fit. The rest will help you avoid altitude sickness, adjust to lower oxygen levels, and recover the tired muscles.
Water! Water! And water should be your best buddy when trekking the mountains. Note that your body mass is made of 60% of water, and thus you need to stay hydrated at all times. However, when hiking the mountains, you will sweat bucks, and therefore you need to increase your water intake. After every half an hour of walking, you should take at least 500 ml of water.
Water lubricates your body joints, acts as a coolant, dissolves minerals, vitamins, and food. It also energizes the red blood cells to collect oxygen in the lungs. All these help you adapt to the tough situations at the mountain and avoid altitude sickness.
Do not take alcohol, tobacco, and cigarettes on the journey
Oxygen levels thin as the altitude increases. However, the oxygen levels at Everest Base Camp trekking paths could be lower due to lesser vegetation. A high level of physical fitness is also important as you will have to keep walking up and down the mountain.
Alcohol, tobacco, or cigarettes takes a toll on the body as it makes the heart slow and less active. It also decreases the water level in your body. So, if you take the substances, it will affect your body’s performance which eventually exposes you to altitude sickness.
Eat well and enough
People tend to think eating when hiking makes you lazy. And even if you love food, your appetite might be affected by the high altitude. If you heed to the lack of appetite and eat less, it is dangerous for your overall health. Instead, eat plenty of good food by opting for more liquid. An empty stomach makes you ill and exposes you to the risk of contracting altitude sickness.
The above tricks can help you survive one of the most dangerous expeditions around the world. However, you can realize your dream by planning well ahead. Before the trip, you should train in advance and prepare mentally.
Then, during the trekking, ascend slowly, acclimatize and stay hydrated. Do not take alcohol, cigarettes, and tobacco, and eat healthily. As a result, you will easily survive the altitude sickness that takes down many!