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Altitude Sickness, Training, and Safety as Part of Hiking Plan Prep


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By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 01 September 2015

In our introduction to planning our Tahoe to Yosemite and Tahoe to Whitney backpacking trips we intergrate developing our fitness and skills through training trips into our plans. Thus our plans reflect and acknowledge both our strengths and weaknesses.

Planning Long Distance High Sierra Backpacking Trip

Training is not just vital for the success of the trip and how we are going to feel along the way, which is certainly important. But, our training experiences gives us the understanding of our capacities to accurately self-assess the trajectory of our fitness "on the fly," so we can adjust our workload to support sustained output.

I believe that this capacity to "assess and adjust"  the impact of our energy expenditure is vital under "normal" High Sierra backpacking conditions, but becomes critical when environmental strains become overwhelming.

One such environmental strain that we must monitor closely at the beginning of our backpacking trips is Altitude Acclimation. Our self-assessments will control our energy output. Our trip schedule will shift to accomodate our status.

Avoiding Bad Starts: Altitude and You

Besides improving our skills and fitness "training trips" generate the information necessary to determine our potential daily miles capacity, our food needs, and our requirements for rest.

All of these capacities and skills of ours are ephemeral, and can dissappear into a fog of dysfunction with the onset of altitude sickness. A bad adjustment to altitude can instantly change the character of our trip.

Stay Within Yourself
We have to keep track of how the altitude is affecting us and change our behavior to suite our changing capacities. As with normal hiking, we must keep our expenditure of energy within our ability to recover through rest and eating.

But altitude problems diminsh our not just our capacity for work, but can wreck our abiltiy to eat, drink, and sleep. This "doubles-up" the physical strain, removing both our basic capacity and our ability to recharge.

Thus we must be on the lookout for both the mental and physical effects of altitude, and adjust our workload to keep us within our recovery point, or even terminate work until we can eat, drink, and rest enough to recover from said work.

Post up your experiences with altitude adjustment and sickness below.

 

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