Tips for Camping at High Altitude: Journey to the Top
The blue horizon appears limitless as the eye travels as far as it can see. Earth humbly rests down below, but mountains tower supremely alongside the sky and its clouds. In various mythologies, from Ancient Greek to Hindu, it was believed that only gods lived on these magnificent natural wonders. It is hard not to blame them because what mortal could possibly have the skill and strength to climb such formidable structures? However, it was a different time and times have changed since. Today we can reach the high altitudes of mythological gods and even higher.
In our world, we can set up camp and absorb the setting of the high altitude. An experience unlike any other with a story to tell for years to come, outdoor camping at high altitudes brings challenges that harden us with valuable lessons. High-altitude camping truly creates an appreciation for our existence. As with any type of camping, high-altitude camping requires careful planning to ensure that is a safe and enjoyable adventure for yourself or your family. Many factors need to be considered when planning to climb the home of gods, from environmental to health risks. To embark on this endeavor with preparation, here are tips for camping at high altitudes so that it becomes a successful endeavor.
Tip #1: Do Not Sacrifice Comfort When Resting
While you may believe that carrying a lighter load is better if you are going to climb to the top, you do not want to give up comfortable resting when you reach high altitudes. This means you should not leave the sleeping bag at home! You need to have certain comfort to be well-rested. You need to be well-rested if you are going to put up with the heavy physical effort needed to journey up to high altitude.
I'd like to make the additional suggestion of bringing along a self-inflating sleep pad that you can tuck under your sleeping bag to maximize the level of comfort you will receive when you rest. It is a sound investment for this type of trek, and it does not add much weight.
Tip #2: Follow Established Campsites
Whether it's the Andes or the Himalayas or somewhere else around the globe, in order to save yourself the effort of setting up camp, find an already established campsite where you can settle for the night. Finding an established campsite is only a Google search away. In addition, you lessen your footprint on a piece of preserved nature by limiting resources that could damage the environment. Remember that future generations deserve to enjoy the wonder of high-altitude camping as much as you. Lastly, you are obviously going to be carrying a lighter bag if you stop by an established campsite. This will limit physical effort and maybe financial if you thought you would need to go buy everything to set up a brand-new campsite.
Tip #3: WEAR Multiple Layers of Clothing
Zeus may have worn just a robe at the top of Mt. Olympus but that was only a story. You will need to bundle up with much more than a god's cloak or robe to withstand the cooler temperatures that you will come across as you climb higher. I emphasize the "wear" because this does not mean just storing away extra clothes in your bag and frantically searching the bag when it's too late. For efficiency, you have to wear multiple layers to combat the elements. If you start feeling a bit too warm near the campfire, then remove a layer and your body temperature will adjust accordingly. DO NOT store away the layer though.
Tip #4: 1000 ft at a Time
Mountaineers generally climb 1000 ft per day to avoid exhausting themselves. You should not be climbing more than 1000 ft per day if you are not a mountaineer. On your camping trip in the high altitudes, you want to put a daily limit on the distance traveled based on how much your body can handle. After all, this is not a race, nor should it be.
By not overworking yourself and knowing when to stop, you are protecting yourself from any health hazard that may arise. When you have time to stop you are providing your body with a chance for much-needed rest and to feed on carbohydrates that will fuel you up for the next day's climb. Tomorrow you will conquer another thousand feet.
Tip 5#: Identifying Acute Mountain Sickness (AMC)
Acute Mountain Sickness is physical distress attributed to the difficulty in adjusting to lower oxygen pressure at higher altitudes. The distress can be mental as well and it is usually mild but can become life-threatening.
It is important to know the symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness to ensure your well-being. Some of the most common symptoms of this illness are restlessness, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, and irritability. If you begin to experience Acute Mountain Sickness, then you can address it by easing your way down the altitude until you start feeling a sense of alleviation. Remember that health comes first.
Tip 6#: Gradually Adapt Your Body
It is ill-advised to drive up to a high altitude and set up camp on a whim. Your body will hate you for it. Such drastic and sudden changes in altitude will make you more prone to experience AMC. To properly adapt your body to greater altitudes, you need to give your body a chance to acclimatize to the change of environment. Start at the lowest point and gradually work your way to the top. The greatest feats have never been rushed, so neither should your high-altitude camping trip.
Reaching the Ideal Top
No one ever said you had to reach the very top. This camping trip is about you enjoying the high altitude at a comfortable level and it has never been about proving a point that you can reach the peak. Take in the sights that only birds could have enjoyed for thousands of years. It is an honor to be able to reach these heights, so never take the experience for granted. Follow the tips we provided to maximize the pleasant journey of reaching the top.
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