Acute Altitude Sickness is the reaction of the body adjusting to a decreasing amount of oxygen in the bloodstream. The higher the altitude, the less oxygen is available for the body to carry on normal functions. This is caused by the decreased partial pressure of Oxygen, a difference between external and intercellular pressures.
Altitude sickness most commonly occurs from above 3000m meters (9,842ft) but this is different for everyone - there is simply no way of knowing your own susceptibility prior to being at the altitude thus it is vital you monitor your own health. In principle, higher cardiovascular fitness decreases susceptibility to AMS. Symptoms of AMS may be mild and subside/go away after a day's rest, or if it ignored it could lead to serious health issues including death. All biking adventure participants are required to purchase adequate Travel Insurance, which doesn't exclude helicopter emergency evacuation.
Symptoms can appear within 1-2 hours although most often appear 6-10 hours after ascent and generally subside in 1-2 days as the body adjusts to altitude. They may reappear as you continue to go higher. Symptoms of AMS usually occur gradually and can be one or a combination of the following:
Symptoms generally associated with more severe Acute Mountain Sickness include:
At high altitude, all people will experience some of the above symptoms in a mild form. If the body is unable to adjust to altitude these symptoms will persist and, if they are left untreated, altitude sickness may progress to High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). Edema means simply fluid accumulation in your interstitial body tissues. Both HACE and HAPE can be fatal if ignored.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HAPE (fluid in the lungs)?
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HACE (fluid in the brain)?
Certain medical conditions (such as respiratory disease) or medications (such as sleeping pills) can increase the risk of altitude sickness - it is important that you inform your guide of any medical conditions or medications before ascending to altitude. You can help your body to acclimatize and avoid altitude sickness by:
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Most travelers are able to successfully acclimatize by following the previously mentioned guidelines. However, there are instances where medical treatment is required. Ultimately, the best treatment for AMS is to descend to a lower altitude and rest. Early diagnosis is important. Acute mountain sickness is easier to treat in the early stages.
Our guides have training and experience in AMS symptoms recognition, prevention and treatment. The guide will monitor your all the time for symptoms and will pace you appropriately to minimize your exposure to AMS. We ask you to cooperate with the guide by reporting any above described symptoms and allow your guide to undertake appropriate and timely action such as take a rest and have a drink or snack, help you to carry your day pack or change a pace, take extra day rest or descent if necessary.
Your Guide will carry some medications in First Aid Kit and may suggest medication such as Ibuprophen, Paracetamol, combination of them or specific AMS medication. Standard and effective medication for prevention of AMS is Acetazolamide (Diamox) and it may be given to help improve breathing and reduce mild symptoms. This drug can cause increased urination. Ensure you drink plenty of fluids and avoid alcohol when taking this drug.
With severe cases of AMS our guide will contact our Kathmandu office and arrange your evacuation by helicopter. Before we accept you on the trek we will require that you purchase health and travel insurance including helicopter rescue and hospitalization.
When you arrive at base camp, our staff set up the camp and you will be resting and preparing for proper acclimatization. Once all of the climbers, climbing Sherpa guide and base camp staff have worship (Pooja) at base camp, our Climbing Sherpa guide will open the route and proceed to fix the Camp one. After supply, the food and needed equipment by Sherpa guide you will be taken to acclimate at camp 1 for overnight. According to your physical fitness and reaction of your body, our Sherpa guide may hold another night at camp one and next day hike up to camp 2 and descend down to base camp. Similarly, our high altitude Sherpa guide will open the route fix camp 2 and then supply gears, equipment, and meals. Afterward, you will be acclimatized likewise. If it requires and the weather condition seems good, they will allow you to sleep one more night at camp 2 and return back to base camp via camp one right for rest. Similarly during your rest and recovering time at Base camp, our Sherpa guide will open the route for camp 3; fix the camp/line and supply food, oxygen, the equipment they will come back to base camp and waiting for the summit push.
After your camp 1 and 2 acclimatization, our climbing Sherpa guide will check the weather forecast, group fitness, and recovery condition. If upcoming weather reports, your physical fitness, and Sherpa guide condition allow them to decide for summit push then, they start and planning for the summit push. On the summit plan, you will be going to sleep camp 1, 2, and 3 before summit days. On the last night, you will be resting till 01:00 am at camp 3. Your climbing Sherpa guide will prepare dinner before sleep. Early in the morning our staff going to boil the water, prepare a light breakfast, and starting your mission of the summit. Some strong climbers start to summit push from camp 2 and may plan to return at camp 2, however, we will not advise you to plan to summit from camp 2 in general. Hence, Team Snowy Horizon always fixes camp 3 at Cho-Oyu before the summit unless you deny it on your own. After the summit, we plan to come down at camp 2 but if you are unable to continue our climbing Sherpa prepare food and water for you at Camp 3. The next morning clean camp 3 and 2 and descend down to camp 1 and next day at Advance base camp.
In case of some unforeseen circumstances due to any reason like bad weather, group physical fitness, accident, incidence we have to return back to base camp before summit push and cancel the summit plan. If we still have climbing duration, better weather conditions and climbers are interested in re-try, we will provide you with one more opportunity to attempt the summit push. However, in our previous experience, more than 98% of climbers are either succeed or give up the trip after the first try.