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Preparing for High Altitudes - Altitude Acclimatizing

Preparing for High Altitudes - Altitude Acclimatizing Hiking often involves climbing hills and mountains. For some people, this hobby might go as far as crossing over to full scale Mountaineering. As you increase the altitudes that you reach in your Hiking adventures, you will want to take the higher altitudes into account and be aware of the possible risks. This section takes a look at how you can prepare yourself for higher altitudes and why you need to be prepared. This should be read together with our section on Acute Mountain Sickness and on High Altitude Hiking Techniques.

In higher altitudes, the oxygen level of the air is lower, making your body work less efficiently. These are some important facts on Higher Altitude Hiking:
  • People can feel the effects of higher altitudes as low as 6000 feet (2000 meters) above sea level.
  • People differ in their tolerance for high altitude conditions and how their bodies react to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level.
  • There is no relationship between your overall physical fitness level and your tolerance to high altitudes. Furthermore, an improved fitness level might cause you to push harder and over exert your body which is one of the main causes of AMS.
Acclimatizing to High Altitudes

Acclimatizing to higher altitudes and the need to do so differs per person and you will learn what your body needs by experience. If you have no experience with high altitudes then take extra precautions. If you do not encounter any problems then you can try a shorter and/or more intense acclimatization process. Here are the basic rules on Acclimatizing to Higher Altitudes:
  • Start at lower altitudes and walk steadily and slowly to higher altitudes. The acclimatization proces takes at least a few days.
  • Your sleeping altitude is the most important and you should make sure that the difference in height between two consecutive sleeping places is not larger than 1500" class="related_products_container" feet (500" class="related_products_container" meters). You can reach higher altitude differences during the day time but make sure your second camp is not more than 1500" class="related_products_container" feet from your first.
  • If you need to drive or fly directly to altitudes higher than 10000 feet (3000 meters), take at least a period of 24 hours of rest before you start your steady ascent and acclimatization.

As stated before, this section is mostly about preventing Acute Mountain Sickness. Learn more about hiking in high altitudes in our High Altitude Hiking Techniques section.

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