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Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., author of Altitude Illness: Prevention and Treatment, has trekked in the mountains of Nepal for decades. He offers the following tips for skiing, hiking, or climbing in at high altitude in comfort and safety.

  • Spend at lest one night below 10,000 feet (3050 meters) before ascending higher.
  • Raise your sleeping altitude by no more than 1000 feet (305 meters) each night above 10,000 feet.
  • Climb as high as you like each day as long as you follow the “sleeping altitude” rule.
  • Build into the schedule a sleeping altitude halt every 3000 feet (1000) meters.
  • If you don’t feel good, do not raise your sleeping altitude until you feel better.
  • If you don’t get better by staying at your current sleeping altitude, descend to where you first felt sick.
  • Don’t take a headache higher to sleep under any circumstances.
  • Be especially concerned and vigilant if a headache comes on during the day’s ascent and gets worse.
  • Don’t urinate into the wind or uphill if there is any wind.

Three rules to prevent dying from altitude illness:

  • Learn the early symptoms of altitude illness and be willing to recognize when you, and others, have them.
  • Never ascend to sleep at a higher altitude with any symptoms of altitude illness. Anyone with symptoms of altitude illness who ascends will get worse.
  • Descend if your symptoms are getting worse while resting at the same altitude.

-- Adapted from Altitude Illness: Prevention and Treatment by Stephen Bezruchka, M.D., The Mountaineers Books,

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