3 ways to prepare for high altitude trek
by Khushbu Suthar
December 18, 2018
I started hiking in the year of 2016 and went for my first one day trek in the Sahyadri mountain ranges of Maharashtra. The experience was very tiring but at the same time when I returned home, the feeling was full of bliss. A good and sound sleep was assured that night.
The experience was straining but after that, I started understanding the ethics of the trek. It was a good beginning. I was so overwhelmed during this experience that it was time to explore the Himalayan ranges of India. The experience of high altitude, snow-clad mountains, pollution-free environment were the destination of the year 2017. As it was my first trek in High altitude region I was oblivious to the fact where I am heading towards. Himalayan treks are not something you can imagine, you cannot feel until you have experienced.
So, here are the three things I learnt during my trek.
Get your breathing right
We have heard about inspiring stories of mountaineers who have achieved and fought with Asthma in order to win their passion for trekking. These stories are full of mind-blowing inspirational course of mountaineering they did, not only to summit the peak but also to summit their fears. And on this note I started my endeavor.
Due to less oxygen in the surrounding the people tend to get breathless and rely more on their mouth for breathing instead of choosing the nasal pathway. This, in fact, results into losing the stamina and while ascending towards the mountain cliff you might even lose your grip.One thing we as a trainee learnt that we need to get our breathing right before trying any sort of exercise. Whenever we are talking about any exercise we need to make sure, our breathing should be in the right pattern. it always start from learning breathing exercises.
Let us talk about Yoga which is considered a high form of exercise. In yoga we need to manage our breathing pattern every time. Whenever we are opening the front of the body while we are stretching, we need to inhale a deep breath. Whenever we are coming back to the normal position we exhale, relaxing our body. This is how the mechanism of our body is working whenever we are talking about having control over our breathing pattern. Having control over breathing means, we are halfway through the battle.
In Tai Chi, the practice starts from breathing, it eases your workout if you start breathing right. Even swimming is one more sport dependent on breathing. So how do we work on our breathing for trekking in mountains and what are the ways to save ourselves from Altitude sickness?
Start pushing yourself for 5 minutes daily, to motivate yourself, to churn your gut and to understand five minutes of life. A small start will help you to move more, help you to allow in broadening your horizons. These little victories will help you to summit that peak.
5 minutes of mindful breathing daily: Feel the sensation in your body, understand the rhythm of the breath, pay attention to the course of the breathing. Start from nostrils, move to the nose, feel the breath spreading in your lungs, and feel the lightness settling in your belly.
This is the way you plan your breathing, this 5-minute exercise daily will help you reach to better health status in your life. Practicing this for Himalayan trek helped me to make this as an involuntary mechanism in the brainâ€™s neural pathway, even when I was writing this article my attention was on my breathing.
Practice it daily at least for 21 days to make a habit.
Challenge your own strength
Unless and until you donâ€™t make yourself reach out from the comfort zone you will never know, what you are capable of. We have always heard this saying but how much we have given a serious thought to this? It is always about coming out from our comfort zone and pushing your own limits.
That is what we have grown up with but now we are forgetting to imply. Trekking is a group activity, everybody helps each other by motivating each other together and reaching towards the summit. That is why it becomes easier for the summit as it is not an individual energy, but in a group, everybody is supporting each other. This is a beautiful experience that how even strangers become an integral part for the moment. And that is the time you experience how much we are capable of? How much more our body can perform?
Start with Running
Whenever you are preparing for your hike in high mountain ranges make sure you take your stamina to a certain level. Make sure you run at least 10 km or 6.2 miles in 30-40 minutes to reach. You might get tired in this course of running after 5 km or 7 km, all you have to do at an individual level is run that extra mile or km. The mental feeling which you will feel after 4 miles is the exact same you will feel before the summit but the best part is that you will summit if you push yourself for an extra mile. This how you are not only preparing yourself for the trek physically but you are pushing yourself mentally.
This is how the mountain ascending experience will become easier for you.
Warm-ups will always help
Warm-ups will always help during any fitness activity but there are two types. Mental and physical warm up.
For physical warm up, you start from your neck movements and stretch it to either side. Then you move towards your arms, back, hips and legs.Take good 5-10 minutes for warming up physically. For mental warming up what can we do? Take 7 deep breaths and just channelize your energy. Gather all your attention and concentrate on breathing only. There are times when you will feel little wavered and wonâ€™t be able to start, especially when you are at the high altitude. Going daze, confused, dizzy are very common symptoms a trekker experience. Give your self little time, take good -10 minutes, start a little late and begin with your hike for the day on a good note.
These three things will not only help you to prepare for high altitude trek but also will help you in life situations. Remember, in life whenever you feel confused and daze, go back sit, relax and start again.