How high is considered high altitude?

March 15, 2023

How high is considered high altitude?

High altitude is generally considered to be an elevation above 2,400 meters (7,874 feet) above sea level. At this altitude, the air pressure and oxygen levels are lower than at sea level, making it more difficult for the body to function normally. However, the effects of high altitude on the body can vary depending on factors such as individual physiology, rate of ascent, and duration of stay. For example, some people may experience symptoms of altitude sickness at lower elevations, while others may be able to tolerate higher elevations without experiencing symptoms.
It’s important to be aware of the effects of high altitude and take steps to acclimatize properly when trekking or traveling to high altitude regions. Gradual ascent, proper hydration, and rest can help the body adjust to the lower oxygen levels at high altitude and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

What are the main risks during the trekking in high mountains?

Altitude sickness: As you ascend to higher altitudes, the air pressure decreases and the amount of oxygen in the air decreases, making it difficult for your body to function normally. This can lead to altitude sickness, which can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. In severe cases, altitude sickness can be life-threatening.
Hypothermia and frostbite: The high altitudes of mountain regions often bring extreme weather conditions, including snow, wind, and cold temperatures. Exposure to these conditions can cause hypothermia and frostbite, which can be dangerous or even fatal if left untreated.
Falls and injuries: Trekking in high mountains often involves steep and uneven terrain, which increases the risk of slips, trips, and falls. These accidents can result in injuries such as sprains, fractures, and head injuries.
Avalanches and landslides: Trekking in mountain regions also increases the risk of natural disasters such as avalanches and landslides. These events can be unpredictable and dangerous, causing injury or death.
Dehydration and waterborne illnesses: High altitude trekking can be physically demanding, and it’s important to stay hydrated. However, water sources in mountain regions can be contaminated with bacteria and parasites, which can cause waterborne illnesses such as diarrhea and typhoid fever.
Altitude-related emergencies: Altitude-related emergencies such as high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral edema (HACE) can occur at high altitudes and can be life-threatening. These conditions require immediate medical attention and can be challenging to treat in remote areas.
It’s important to be aware of these risks and take steps to minimize them, such as staying hydrated, dressing appropriately for the weather, using proper trekking gear, and following the advice of local guides. It’s also a good idea to consult a medical professional before embarking on a high altitude trek.

Why having a local guide is important when trekking in high mountains?

Knowledge of the terrain: Local guides are familiar with the terrain, weather conditions, and potential hazards of the area. They can advise you on the best routes to take, where to find water and shelter, and how to avoid dangerous areas.
Experience in high altitude: Local guides have experience trekking at high altitude and are familiar with the symptoms of altitude sickness. They can monitor your condition and provide advice on how to avoid or manage altitude sickness.
Language and cultural barriers: In some remote areas, the local population may speak a different language and have a different culture. A local guide can help bridge the language and cultural barriers, making it easier to communicate and navigate local customs.
Safety: Trekking in high mountains can be dangerous, and a local guide can provide an extra layer of safety. They can help you avoid dangerous areas, monitor weather conditions, and provide first aid if needed.
Support the local economy: Hiring a local guide supports the local economy and helps sustain the community. Local guides are often knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the area, which can enhance your experience.
Overall, having a local guide can help make your high altitude trek safer and more enjoyable, while also providing opportunities to learn about the local culture and support the local economy.

Symptoms of high altitude sickness

Headache: This is often the first and most common symptom of high altitude sickness. The headache can be mild to severe and is usually throbbing.
Nausea and vomiting: These symptoms may be present with or without a headache.
Dizziness or lightheadedness: This may occur when standing up or moving around.
Fatigue and weakness: You may feel more tired than usual and have difficulty performing physical tasks.
Shortness of breath: This may occur during physical activity or even when resting.
Loss of appetite: You may not feel like eating or may experience a decrease in appetite.

What should we do if we have altitude sickness in High Mountain?

If you experience symptoms of high altitude sickness, the first thing to do is to stop ascending to higher elevations and rest where you are. Some common symptoms of altitude sickness include headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Here are some general guidelines for treating altitude sickness:
Rest: Take a break from any physical activity and rest in a comfortable position.
Hydrate: Drink plenty of fluids, such as water or electrolyte solutions, to prevent dehydration.
Descend: If your symptoms do not improve or worsen, it may be necessary to descend to a lower elevation to get more oxygen.
Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help relieve headaches and other mild symptoms. Prescription medications such as acetazolamide or dexamethasone may be recommended by a doctor for more severe cases of altitude sickness.
Oxygen: Supplemental oxygen may be necessary in severe cases of altitude sickness.
Helicopter Rescue: Helicopter rescue is an option in case of emergency situations or medical evacuations in the mountains. If someone is seriously injured or suffering from severe altitude sickness and it is not possible to descend safely or quickly, calling for a helicopter rescue may be necessary.
Acclimatize properly: Take time to acclimate to the altitude by ascending gradually and allowing your body time to adjust. Drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can dehydrate you.

Basic guidelines during the high altitude trekking

Pack appropriately: Bring warm and waterproof clothing, sturdy boots, and other necessary gear for the terrain and weather conditions. Pack a first aid kit and emergency supplies such as a whistle, headlamp, and extra food and water.
Follow the trail: Stick to designated trails and avoid shortcuts, which can cause erosion and damage to the environment. Respect the local customs and traditions, and avoid disturbing wildlife or natural resources.
Stay alert and aware: Be aware of your surroundings and any potential hazards, such as loose rocks, unstable terrain, or inclement weather. Stay alert for signs of altitude sickness or other medical issues.
Respect the environment: Leave no trace by packing out all trash and waste, and avoid disturbing the natural environment.
Be prepared for emergencies: Have a plan in case of emergencies, including a means of communication and a plan for getting help if necessary.
Hire a local guide: Consider hiring a local guide who knows the area well and can provide valuable advice and support during your trek.
By following these basic guidelines, you can enjoy a safe and rewarding trekking experience in high mountains.