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Altitude Sickness


Getting out of the city and hiking in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies can be the best thing you ever do for yourself, mentally and physically. Finding peace of mind on a high alpine trail, sitting on the top of a mountain overlooking the vastness of the Rockies can be life changing.

You’ve pushed your body to its limits. Fatigue starts setting in. The air is thin and your lungs can’t get enough of it. You feel like you’re on the top of the world, almost euphoric. Your mind starts to drift and you start to feel like you’re going through an out-of- body-experience.

Being in this wonderful place can feel just like that and the longer you stay the more you start to feel out of sorts. A slight headache may nag at you and you may start to feel a little sick and just think that your just tired from the climb. And maybe that’s all it is, as those feelings settle down and go away. If they persist, it’s time to start paying close attention to what your body is telling you. You may be susceptible to Altitude Sickness.

Altitude sickness is something you should be well aware of when hiking at elevations over 8,000 ft or 2,400 meters. The effects of which can lead to disaster if not recognized and action taken to alleviate the symptoms by descending below 8,ooo ft ASAP.

Altitude sickness is caused by the body’s inability to acclimatize itself to sudden changes in atmospheric pressure that occur at high altitudes. The higher you go, the less oxygen there is available for breathing. Altitude sickness typically occurs above 2,400 meters (8,000 feet).

The acute mountain sickness can be treated by resting and drinking plenty of fluids. If acute mountain sickness symptoms worsen or do not improve within 24 hours, immediate descent to lower altitudes (below 8,000 feet) should be considered. Some acclimatization may occur with mild acute mountain sickness.

Symptoms of acute mountain sickness include headache, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite and sleep disturbances. It typically occurs within 6 to 12 hours of reaching altitudes over 8,000 feet. It can develop further into high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) which can lead to death, sometimes within a matter of hours. Trouble with an altered mental status, walking, balance, and speaking, as well as fatigue, can be strong indicators of HACE.

High- altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Brought about when people who typically live in the lowland ascend rapidly to high elevations, typically above 8000 ft. Lungs become enflamed. The blood vessels in the lungs can start squeezing together, creating pressure as capillaries start to leak into the lung bringing about a cough and trouble breathing, also accompanied by an increase in body temperature. Symptoms may be relieved with a slow decent to lower elevations. If left untreated in the higher elevations, this condition can lead to death.



Be aware of your body and what it may be telling you. Paying attention to warnings can make or break your time in the mountains. Be aware of Altitude Sickness and its symptoms, and how to react.

Pace yourself in your ascent. Charging up a mountain does not allow your body time to acclimate to the environment. A slow and steady ascent will not only let you get used to the thinner air but give you more overall enjoyment of your environment and allow you to spend more time in it.

Be prepared for your backpacking trip in the mountains. Make sure to have a good First Aid Kit.

Equip yourself with the Best Ultralight Backpacking Gear, and be ready with the Wilderness Survival Essentials needed to have a safe and rewarding experience, perhaps the best of your life!

All your Gear needs.


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