Five Reasons People get Altitude Sickness in the Everest Region

Let me give you five reasons people get altitude sickness in the Everest Region. There are five main reasons, and we will get into each one below. Before that, I have just returned from the Everest region for the almost 50th time. I have climbed Everest and led over 40 Everest Base Camp treks. I have been visiting the region since 2001 and the Everest region has changed. Check out our upcoming trips.

Big Changes

Some changes for the better and some for the worse. Someone on the trek said to me you can not stop progression. This is true, and we never want to see the local people’s ability to grow and develop their businesses and communities. Join our Facebook group.

In saying that, the amount and type of person coming to the Everest has changed drastically over the past 15 years. For good and bad, Everest movies along with climbing documentaries have brought this type of activity to the mainstream.

The challenges lay in the fact that the infrastructure cannot handle the amount of people, and this is stressing every service on offer in the Everest region.

Reasons people are getting sick in the Everest region.

Bring out all your Trash

Even better than bringing out all your trash, bring it home with you. Neither the Everest region or Kathmandu cannot really handle rubbish and recycling. We are encouraging people to bring as much rubbish and recycling material out of Sagarmatha National Park as possible.

Burning plastic in the Everest region

Be Informed and Be Prepared

One of the major challenges is trekkers or tourists as I see more tourists on the trail to Mount Everest than trekkers. People need to be informed about the reality of high altitude, multi-day trekking.

In my opinion you cannot enter these mountains without the correct and specific training. Here is the training we recommend. Don’t be fooled by companies telling you to do a month of training before your trip. This maybe works if you are 25 and already used to hiking up and down hills on a regular basis.

These companies are lying and will tell you anything you want to hear. Also, if you are overweight, and over 65 be very careful selecting an itinerary as you will need more days and more time to be able to safely reach Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar 18,520 feet and back down to Lukla 9,350 feet safely.

Everyone needs more acclimatization than most companies are offering. Let me say that again, you need more acclimatization than most companies are offering.  If you pick a hybrid, fast itinerary you will be disappointed. You will get sick, and it will be extremely difficult to get back down safely. Get in touch for a free 15-minute consultation.

People are getting sick in the Everest region.

1). The Big Misunderstanding

There are a few important things to consider here. There is a massive difference between going to and living at High Altitude. The Everest region has you sleeping above 4,267m/ 14,000 feet for 5 nights.

This is challenging and much more stressful on your body than a trip like Kilimanjaro where you spend a lot of nights around the 3,962m/ 13,000-foot mark. This is why you need to spend more time at 3,500m/ 11,500 feet.

Reasons people are getting sick.

2). Acclimatization

Without the correct acclimatization you have nothing. Very High altitude is between 3,500m/ 11,483 feet and 5,500m/ 18,044 feet. Above 5,500m/ 18,044 feet is extreme.

There are certain trigger points, the most important one is around 3,658m/ 12,000 feet and extremely important to have enough acclimatization around this elevation before moving higher. We only have 3 nights at this elevation before moving higher. Read more.

Carry your own backpack in the Everest region.

3). Poor Physical preparation

The shocking level of physical preparation displayed on the trail to Mount Everest is pathetic, shocking and causing so many problems for everyone else. Insurance premiums have sky rocketed because people scamming on their insurance. Far too many people are pushing beyond what they training for, getting tired and getting on helicopters because they are too tired to hike.

If you think you are hit the trail to Mount Everest off the couch you are wrong. Months of physical preparation is needed to be safe as you considering trekking to Everest Base Camp. Do not underestimate this multi trekking adventure at very high and extreme altitude. Read more about our Training advice for trekking to Everest Base Camp.

Trekking into Everest Base Camp.

4). Poor hygiene

Because there are so many people coming to this trek physically under prepared they are not managing their pace, pushing too hard and getting sick. Then pick up colds and the flu and pass respiratory viruses to other people.

Clean your hands, wear a buff or mask around sick people and stay away from people who are coughing all over everything.

Attached hand sanitizer to your backpack and keep yourself as clean as possible. Remember everything you touch in the lodges is dirty.

Sun coming up in Tengboche

5). Stress and Fatigue

To safely manage yourself on a multi-day trekking adventure at very high altitude you need to have stress tested your body for what you will encounter. We highly recommend the follow steps.

Step 1: Get a Fitness Test

It is important to do a fitness test to understand your starting point and establish your specific Heart Rates training zones. The bulk of your training should be in zone 2 slow moving toward zone 3 training over time. Read more.

Step 2: Understand Heart Rate Training

It is important to build a very strong endurance base to have the correct physical condition for the specific trip you are doing. Read more.

Step 3: Understand the Specific Terrain

Every trip is different. Some trips are all stairs, others are trail, and the Everest Base Camp Trek has it all, stairs up and down, 30 degree incline and moving across uneven terrain.

Step 4: Understand Elevation Gains & hours

Distances are not important on the Everest trek. What is important to understand is the elevation gains you will doing on a daily basis. Everything is judged in hours. For example the Namche hill, Shangbouche hill, Tengbouche hill are all 1,700 feet to 2,000 feet of elevation gain and take 1 hour 40 minutes to 2 hours to hike up. Read more.

Step 5: Hill Training

Walking up and down hills of similar elevation gain on your chosen trip with weight in your backpack is a critical part of the training. Read more.

Step 6: Gym Training

It is important to supplement longer hikes with daily gym training sessions, building the correct strength and endurance. Read more.

Step 7: Train for the Downhill

Most people are not doing enough downhill training and building the correct stability, core and leg strength for for moving down steep trail and down steep stairs. Read more.

Mount Everest

Follow Trekking Etiquette

People on the trail are mean, in a hurry, aggressive and have no understanding of trekking etiquette. Please give way to people coming uphill, stand aside and let them through. Also respect the porters and animals on the trial, get out of their way and stand on the mountain side. Stand away from drop offs.

There are also so many more sick people on the trail with all the wrong gear, no water and can not even carry their own backpacks. Which is shocking to see.

The reasons people are getting sick in the Everest region

A Sad Day!

I was hiking to Tengbouche the other day and 40% of the people were not in the correct gear and could not carry their backpacks. Guides and companies need to stop this. With hundreds of rescues per day in the main trekking season and most people not able to walk back down to Lukla. The region that I love has turned into a disaster zone!!

Everest by horse

Minimum Pace

If you cannot maintain a slow pace for up to an hour, carry your backpack, be in control of your movement and breathing you have no right to be trekking to very high altitude in the Everest region. If you are on one of our trips, we will turn you around. Your safety, safety of others and safety of the guides and local people should be a

Remote Trekking

Even tough it might not feel like it. The Everest Region of Nepal is remote, if you get in trouble, it can take days to exit this region. Life saving medical treatment is a long way away. Why take the risk of cutting corners.

Please come physically prepared. If you have 2 or 3 symptoms of altitude turn around and walk down. We have 4 guides for every group of 10 trekkers so do not cause more risk by pushing higher.

Five Reasons People get Altitude Sickness in the Everest Region

The Luxury Helicopter

Firstly, I am a big fan of Helicopter access to and from the Everest Region. Having access to a helicopter ride from Kathmandu direct to Lukla or Surke is extremely useful.

Secondly,  One of the downsides is far too much access has been granted to tourists who come totally underprepared. Watching some people leave Lukla you would think they are going to the shopping mall. It is a sight to behold.

Finally, A Helicopter crashed in Lobuche today. Far too many people going into the Everest region unprepared making helicopters the only way they can exit the region. This will happen more an more as hundreds of people every day can not walk down and rely on helicopters to exit the Everest region. A very sad reality in the Everest region, but the lesson is come prepared, pick the right itinerary and team with more support.

Be informed and be prepared!


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