Contact Us
Call Charlie or Gaynor

01242 895272


Trekking at altitude

Trekking at altitude

What you need to know

Most Tribal Tracks expeditions involve climbing to a summit or trekking in a stunning mountain range. In most cases, these will be at high altitudes (between 2500m and 4000m) or very high altitude (between 4000 and 5500m) including:

All of our treks and challenges are carefully curated to ensure an appropriate level of acclimatisation and to minimise the risk of altitude sickness — pacing, trekking high-sleeping low, hydration reminders,  monitoring with oximeters etc, but you should still be aware of the effects altitude can have, and why.

If you ever feel unwell at altitude, do not keep it to yourself. Tell the group leader as soon as you feel something isn't quite right.

Why does altitude affects us?

Oxygen Quality: Despite many people thinking there is less oxygen at altitude, this isn't the case. It's actually because each litre (for example) of oxygen contains fewer oxygen molecules, which means when you breathe in, you are breathing less 'useful oxygen'. Because you're taking in less 'good oxygen,' physical activities are more strenuous, requiring more effort and energy for the same tasks you'd perform at lower altitudes.

Dehydration: Your body loses more fluids at higher altitudes for several reasons, including more sweating from exertion, an increase in breathing rate and 'dryer' air.

Temperature: Higher altitudes are typically colder. When air expands (due to wind flowing up the side of a mountain, for example), it cools. It is also harder for Earth to retain solar energy at altitude; much of it is lost to space. Snow also reflects the sun's radiation, unlike places like forests that are good at soaking it all up.

What to look out for

Altitude affects individuals in different ways. Some people won't suffer any ill effects at all, and others will be particularly sensitive to it, regardless of fitness levels. There are three different types of altitude sickness:

Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), is usually caused by ascending too quickly. Symptoms include:

  • Feeling dizzy
  • Headache
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Feeling or being sick

High Altitude Cerebral Oedema (HACE) is a swelling of the brain. Symptoms include:

  • Severe headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Being confused
  • Unsteadiness

High Altitude Pulmonary Oedema (HAPE) is caused by fluid gathering in your lungs. Symptoms include:

  • Bluish discolouration of the skin
  • Racing pulse
  • Feeling breathless and very weak even when at rest

HACE and HAPE can be life-threatening, so we reiterate that if you begin to feel unwell, don't try to 'push on' and tell your Tribal Tracks Leader immediately and they will decide the best course of action.

As always, if you have any questions, drop us an email.

Speak to Charlie or Gaynor - Tribal Tracks

Speak to Charlie or Gaynor

Let’s get you on the right track!

Call Charlie or Gaynor

01242 895272