Health and Acclimatization

Health, fitness and proper acclimatization are key aspects of a safe and enjoyable Himalayan trek.  Maintaining proper fitness is crucial before and during all mountain excursions.  Prior to participating in our Himalayan treks you should be able to walk up to 5km / 3 miles over varied terrain with a daypack weighing approximately 5 kg / 11 lbs.  Although the total daily distances are greater than this, these are the rough distances we will travel in between breaks, so you should be able to comfortably make it through each day, rested and happy.  Pushing harder than this will eventually tire you out and reduce your enjoyment, and so we take it easy.

You'd better be very fit if you choose to overpack for the trail.

You’d better be very fit if you choose to overpack for the trail.

In addition to a proper fitness regimen leading up to your trip, it is very important to maintain a good level of health which will maximize your experience.  This involves proper rest and hydration, proper hygiene, and slow ascents.

During the trek we will be spending extensive amounts of time above 3000 metres where it is particularly easy to become dehydrated, especially when combined with the exertion of the hikes.  All trekkers will be reminded on multiple occasions to keep drinking their water, and ideally should consume between 3 and 4 litres per day.

As we get higher up on the trail, oxygen becomes less available, which may result in fatigue, headaches, and eventually Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).  AMS is a potential risk for trekkers, and is normally caused by elevation gains faster than 400 metres per day. Himalayan Trexplorers itineraries are designed with this in mind, and so we hike slower than other groups, take more plentiful rest days, and otherwise allow ourselves to properly acclimatize to the high elevations while skipping the headaches and nausea so many trekkers experience on more rushed itineraries.  As a result, even mild cases of AMS are rare on our treks, but when they do occur they can be easily treated with additional rest days which are built into the schedule, or the recovery can be aided with the medication that we carry in our comprehensive Mountain Medical Kit.  Acetazolamide (Diamox) is used for the prevention of AMS and some doctors suggest trekkers take this as a preventative measure; you should discuss this with your own doctor, especially if you take any other drugs.

Yaks are a sturdy and strong species particularly well acclimatized to high elevations.

Yaks are a sturdy and strong species particularly well acclimatized to high elevations.

You can probably imagine that once in the mountains, hygiene levels drop off significantly.  We will stay in highest-class accommodations available (which have been vetted for their cleanliness), but gastro-intestinal infections are still a possibility, however remote.  As a result, all drinking water is treated (either chemically or with ultraviolet filters), and everyone is encouraged to use hand sanitizer before taking meals.  In the unlikely event of someone still becoming ill, we can easily take additional rest days to allow proper recovery and/or use antibiotics to get over the episode in a faster manner.

Before you register for the trek, we request that you have a Medical Information Sheet completed by your doctor and returned to us. You should not be concerned about us requiring this information; it is simply a precautionary part of our pre-trek process, and ensures a doctor has considered any possible health impact of you trekking to a relatively high altitude; it also ensures that all vaccination and medicinal requirements have been covered.

If you have any concerns whatsoever about the required level of fitness, general health issues, or acclimatization, please don’t hesitate to discuss them with us; we have extensive experience in these areas, and we are always happy to share our knowledge with you.  Alternately, follow these links for more information about Acute Mountain Sickness as well as Mountain Health.

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The magnificent stupa above Dingboche greets trekkers on their way to Everest Base Camp.

The magnificent stupa above Dingboche greets trekkers on their way to Everest Base Camp.