Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth fitness, nutrition, and adventure courses and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+ Sign up for Outside+ today.
How much does an altitude of 10,000 feet affect a backpacker? I have hiked more than 5,000 miles on the AT, but the highest you get is a little over 6,000 feet. I am in my early 50s and still in decent shape, but I don’t know what to expect at a higher elevation.
Submitted by – How much does an altitude of 10,000 feet affect a backpacker?
Anyone coming from lower altitudes to 8,000 feet or more may experience headaches, unusual fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, and lassitude. Expect, also, that you’ll do some heavy breathing, even after you acclimatize. These physiological responses are discomforting, but not serious.
Here are a few thoughts on preventing altitude problems:
1. Above 8,000 feet, ascend no faster than your ability to acclimatize–an average of 1,000 feet per 24 hours of sleeping gain (sleep no more than 1,000 feet higher than the night before).
2. Drink plenty of water.
3. Eat plenty of carbohydrate-rich, low-fat foods.
4. Consult your physician about the uses of acetazolamide to prevent mild altitude illness. I think it’s better to take the time to acclimatize, though.
If you feel sick, do not go up until the symptoms go down, exercise lightly, and drink plenty of water. If the symptoms do not go down within two days, you should. People who do not acclimatize–meaning feel better–in two days might be developing a serious form of altitude illness.
If you don’t rush altitude gain, I think you can also expect to have a wonderful time.