Guided backpacking trips into Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park may be gorgeous, but there are inherent dangers when hiking and backpacking at higher elevations. Altitude sickness is a very real possibility since many hiking destinations begin at a location above 10,000 ft. People who are not used to breathing or exercising at higher elevations may be at a greater risk for altitude sickness.

What Is Altitude Sickness

dreamstime_l_15580219Altitude sickness occurs when the human body spends time above 10,000 ft in elevation. It can affect men and women of all ages, but not everyone experiences this phenomenon. At this high elevation, the body has a difficult time adapting to the oxygen levels which are unusually low compared to sea level. Altitude sickness is also much more prevalent in men and women that rise to +10,000 ft and then exercise. The shortage of oxygen leads the body to crave oxygen. The most common symptoms associated with altitude sickness; rapid heartbeat, hyperventilation, dizziness, nausea, headache. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Severe symptoms require professional medical care.

Avoiding Altitude Sickness

Avoiding altitude sickness can be difficult, but there are ways to minimize the harmful effects. When you come to Colorado for guided backpacking trips into Estes Park, arrive a few days early. Spend at least 24 hours acclimating to the increased altitude. Drink lots of water, avoid caffeine, and do not drink alcohol on the days leading up to your trip. During the backpacking expedition, pick a pace that is easy to keep up without overexerting yourself. Rest intermittently, and do not forget to eat nutritious foods.
Kirk’s Mountain Adventures wants to make guided backpacking trips into Estes Park enjoyable for everyone. Our guides have ample experience and can help people understand and avoid the dangers of altitude sickness. Call us today for more information.