If you have been hiking or climbing for a while now, there will come a time when you will do high altitude hiking in the future. Reaching the summit or the top provides a sense of accomplishment, especially if the trail is quite hard. But, before you do high altitude hiking, it is essential to prepare yourself physically and mentally to be successful.
So, how to prepare for high altitude hiking? Training for this type of hiking involves preparing your body physically and mentally to overcome the challenge of this extreme outdoor activity. From acclimatizing your body to high altitudes to improving your fitness, we have listed several things that you can do to prepare for a high altitude hike.
Preparing Your Body
Altitude hiking is different from regular climbing or hiking because it can cause high altitude sickness, which is very difficult for climbers. High altitude sickness includes shortness of breath, lightheadedness, fatigue, and feeling of weakness, which is a complex feeling when you are thousands of feet away from sea level,
To avoid this sickness, you must prepare your body beforehand to minimize the effect of high altitude sickness or eliminate it. Remember, hiking at sea level is entirely different from hiking thousands of feet above sea level. So, you need to prepare your body by doing the steps below:
Doing High-Intensity Interval Training
The truth is, there is no other way to equate a high altitude environment when you are at sea level. So, the initial step that you can do to prepare your body for altitude hiking is to recreate the feeling of exhaustion at a high heart rate when you are thousands of feet above sea level.
So, doing high-intensity interval training that focuses on targeting a high heart rate can help prepare your body. You can do high-intensity cardio workouts that will make your heart rate elevated. You can go on the trail and make a hill sprint, or if you do not like to go outside, use a jump rope and do high-intensity intervals as much as you can to target a specific heart rate.
The idea of this training is that when you are already up 13 thousand to 14 thousand feet above sea level and try to climb on a cliff, that is not the best time to get high altitude sickness because it will be too dangerous. This training will get your body accustomed to the feeling of your heart going fast because of the high altitude.
Learn to Familiarize Deep Breathing
Learning how to do deep breathing can help you in many ways when you are in a high altitude environment. Deep breathing will allow your body enough time to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. Proper deep breathing techniques result in stabilized blood pressure and a slow heartbeat, which is needed in a high altitude environment.
More importantly, it will also create calmness on your end, especially when climbing on a hill, while preventing panic and even shortness of breath. An excellent way to familiarize deep breathing is to practise yogic breathing.
The yoga exercise involves strengthening the respiratory muscles to allow more expansion in the lungs. You can lay down on the back while taking long and slow breaths through the nose. Doing this action is like breathing all the way to your abdomen while making sure that you are breathing all the way out.
When you are at a high altitude, you need to breathe in rhythm by taking long, deep abdominal breaths. The familiarity of deep breathing will help you be more controlled and less panicked during the hike.
Learn How to Drink Water More Often
Another way to prepare your body for altitude hiking is to start drinking more water. This action is for your body to get used to drinking a large amount of water because you will need it at a high altitude.
At high altitudes, the humidity is lower, which results in the sweat evaporating quickly. Low oxygen level is also expected at high altitudes, making you breathe faster and lose body water through perspiration and frequent urination.
So, you will need to drink water more often to prepare your body once you are at a high altitude. But how can you do it? Start by gradually increasing your water intake for a few weeks before your planned hike so that the body can better accumulate to the increased volume of water intake.
When learning how to train for high altitude hiking, acclimatizing yourself to a high altitude environment before the actual hike is significant. Because once you are in an area at 9000 feet above sea level can be dangerous with the possible high altitude sickness and other effects to the body.
This situation makes acclimatizing very important to get your body used to this unique environment before your hiking trip. It will also allow getting your lungs familiarized with the high-altitude environment before plunging into action.
Spend Some Time at High Altitude
One way to acclimatize to height is to spend some time in a place with high altitudes. So, you will need to find a place where you can go as high as possible. You will not be obligated to do anything but just let your body get used to the feeling of having less oxygen.
You can also do some small hiking activities in the area with high altitude to practice your body and allow it to acclimatize to the high altitude environment. If there is a river, you can even swim because it helps your breathing and heart rate.
The key is to find a place with a high elevation and spend some time there for the body to get used to the environment. Doing some hiking activities will also recreate the type of climbing you will be doing in the actual high altitude hiking.
Acquaint Yourself in Hiking with a Loaded Pack
Your backpack will be a lot heavier when you are at high altitudes. With this information, you need to familiarize yourself with hiking with a loaded backpack to prepare your body once you are in an actual high altitude environment.
Getting your body acquainted with this loaded and heavy backpack will help you prepare physically and mentally because it can get heavy once you are at a high altitude. The most important thing is to prepare yourself well before the actual hike.
Knowing how to prepare for high altitude hiking is essential for preparing your body physically and mentally before the hike. There is a big difference between hiking at sea level and hiking at high altitudes because the environment is different and will have possible effects on the body. So, preparing yourself days before for high altitude hiking is essential before doing the actual hiking.