When I was traveling and hiking volcanoes in Peru, I noticed that the same recommendations came from more experienced hikers and from the mountain guides. I also realised their importance, since I have seen many people suffer when reaching higher heights. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced hiker, these 3 basic recommendations will help you during your next hike:
We already know that we should be drinking a few litters of water per day, or even more if we are very active. When you are higher than 1,800m or 6000ft, your body starts to perspire twice as much than at sea level. Moreover, when you are in altitude, your sweat evaporates faster and you might think you haven’t sweated a single drop. This could lead to headaches, and even dehydration. It is absolutely crucial that you drink as many liquids as possible before and after hiking. In other words, avoid coffee (because it dehydrates).
Eat more CARBS
Although you may love your salad on a daily basis or maybe you follow some sort of diet like paleo, if you are going in high altitude you need to eat carbohydrates. The reason for this is because they require about 8-10% less oxygen than proteins or fats to metabolise in your system. When in higher altitudes, about 70% of your calorie intake should be carbs since your body is working hard and you need more energy. In addition, carbohydrates help reduce fatigue and prevent low blood sugar levels, which reduce any altitude symptoms.
In higher altitudes, you need to slow down. Going your own pace is the most important you can do for your body. You will be tempted to want to stay with your group or you might not want to be the last one to arrive. All this does not matter: take your time, do not rush, and enjoy the route. Your aim should be to synchronise your body movements with your breathing in a continuous way. This is far better, less tiring, more efficient than walking up fast and needing to pause for breaks. Personally, I like to mentally count my steps up to 4 and get into a rhythm with my breathing.