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The Importance of Proper Acclimation for High Peaks


Base camp Winter Himlung Himal. I've never had any issues with altitude but this photo shows me in a total daze. The Himalaya in winter is accessed via helicopter. We flew from Katmandu which is at about 4500 feet, to about 15,000 feet in a couple hours. Normally, you would trek to that altitude taking a week or so to slowly acclimate. When I got out of that helicopter, I could barely walk in a straight line. The world just started spinning. It was really a wake up call to the magnitude of thin air and gave us a great appreciation for something we have always totally respected, but never really thought of simply because the normal process of climbng those peaks takes care of it- acclimating. We were training at home to 13,000 and 14,000 feet, but that extra 1,000 feet hit us like a ton of bricks. Honestly, it was one of the scariest moments I've had in those mountains, sitting around a base camp, haha! We rested a few days and were fine, but I shudder to think of the brain cells we burned in the process. But it really painted a typical picture that happens so often in those peaks. Young strong climbers get into a race to get to BC and end up sicker than hell. Now I understand why so many people get sick in the initial parts of expeditions. Our mantra is "party down low, and kick 'er in the guts up high"......after you are fully acclimated. With the expedition season upon us, GO SLOW and have fun!


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