The reality is most people can adapt reasonably well to low oxygen environments. However, cautions must be taken on every single venture into a low oxygen environment. Most people do not know that very high altitude is from 3,500m/ 11,500 feet to 5,500m/ 18,000 feet. Above 5,500m/ 18,000 feet is extreme altitude. This means you need to be extremely cautious when traveling above 3,500m/ 11,500 feet. That is why we spend 3 nights in Namche Bazaar on our Everest Region trips, having 8 days on Kilimanjaro and more acclimatization on all of our high altitude itineraries. This gives you a safer and more achievable journey.
High Altitude Cerebral Edema
High altitude issues like HACE (High Altitude Cerebral Edema) can be hard to diagnose and hard to measure. Likewise, altitude sickness can affect people differently. We have seen people seriously ill at 3,000m/ 10,000 feet. The only way to manage this, is go up very slowly and have more acclimatization at the start of high altitude at 3,500m/ 11,500 feet.
The one thing you can control is your bodies ability to handle stress. Coming prepared for long days of walking in low oxygen environments requires specific training. You can play your part and come fully prepared so that your body can handle the added physical stress. Living and trying to recover in a low oxygen environment adds additional stress on your body. Therefore, the more comfortable your body is to handling this specific physical and mental stress, the better. On our trips we monitor your oxygen saturation daily to make the best assessment of how you are adapting to the lower levels of oxygen. Also, we encourage everyone to take Diamox. CONTACT US and learn more about what we recommend.
Training at Sea Level
Ian Taylor has climbed Mount Everest to the top. Over the past 20 years he has led hundreds of treks, climbs and expeditions on 6 continents. Most of them are at high and extreme altitude. He has lived and trained at sea level and also lived and trained at altitude. Below are some interesting observations that he has made over the years. These may help you as you consider your preparation and training for your trip into a low oxygen environment.
Ian grew up outside Dublin, Ireland and trained weekly in the Wicklow Mountains for years. Wicklow is pretty much located at sea level, however there were many options for training. He was lucky enough to be able to gain thousands of meters of elevation daily in his preparation for big altitude adventures. The highest mountain is called Lugnaquilla 925m/ 3,035 feet, and he could could hike up and down that three times in one day, training for Mount Everest.
Multi Day Hiking With Weight
Sometimes Ian would hike for 8 hours, sleep and hike again for 8 hours. Always carrying anywhere from 15kg/ 33lbs to 30kg/ 66lbs in his backpack. The goal was building up to carrying this weight and managed the weight carried very methodically. LEARN MORE. Also, by adding in a lot of gym work, building from 45 minutes to 3 hours per day, he was able to get the training needed.
Now, Ian is living near Vail, Colorado. Located at 2,300m/ 7,600 feet above sea level and also with access to 4,400m/ 14,435 foot peaks, most of the year. With easy access to 3,200m/ 10,500 foot peaks, year round. Still, Ian has to train 5 days a week in preparation for any trips. Creating more red blood cells is important for any trip to altitude. Physical strength and muscle conditioning for hiking up and down hills is also critical for success.
Living at altitude has been a major benefit going on trips. You can always consider going on a altitude machine the weeks leading up to the trip. This would be of real benefit to you in creating red blood cells before going to altitude.
Remember, your body can not adapt well above 5,500m/ 18,520 feet. This means acclimatization, personal genetics and luck, all play a role above this elevation. You need to know your limits and not be shown them. Therefore, making sure you have done the training to the best of your ability is essential!
Ian has learned a lot over the past 20 years. However, one thing for sure, is the more physical preparation you put in, the better prepared your body is for the stress levels at high altitude. Be Lean, light and strong. LEARN MORE.
Training for High Altitude or Low Oxygen Environments
In our opinion, there is one key component that always pays dividends. Come with the right physical preparations. Try and do as similar activity in your training as you will do when you are on the trip. This is hiking up and down steep terrain with a weighted backpack. You also need to supplement your longer training sessions with daily training. The stair master is the best for this. Also, you should build up to carrying double the weight you going to carry on your trip.
Doing a training hike, once a week, building for 3 to 6 hours is essential. This maybe longer depending on the trip. Also, you want to build up the weight load you are carrying. You also need to consider building strength through weight training. Work on your flexibility and also make sure you are not carry too much excess body weight. Read some REVIEWS from our trips.
The Key Components to your Training
1). Long hikes with weighted backpack (Build the length and distance)
2). Daily Endurance Training (5 days a week)
3). Strength training
4). Interval Training (In the peak phase of your training)
If you are signed up to one of our trips, then we can help you develop a training program. We offer free advice on how to come fully prepared for your chosen adventure. CONTACT US and we look forward to speaking with you soon.