The Golden Rule of Thumb for Acclimatization Beyond +/- 10,000 feet (3,000 m) Above Sea Level

The Golden Rule of Thumb for Acclimatization Beyond +/- 10,000 feet (3,000 m) Above Sea Level

The fact stated, “People who do not live in high altitude regions tend to experience high altitude sickness at approximately 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) and above”.

The impact is more self-evident when you ascend from low to high altitude area within short amount of time.  This generally occurs when you commute by car, train or gondola from the foothill straight up to the mountain range at the elevation that is beyond your body tolerance. Often time, when you are departing to a high altitude area, you will notice warning signs posted near the entrance or admission/ticket office.  Occasionally, oxygen bottles are offered for purchase prior to the ascend.  Make an effort to find out the altitude of your final destination if you already know where you are heading to.  In that case, you can get yourself prepared.

The immediate decrease of the oxygen level as you ascend directly to the mountain peak can accelerate the impact of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), such as shortness of breathe, headache, nausea, drowsiness, bloated stomach, etc.   The intensity varied from person to person depending on their body tolerance.

If you are planning to incrementally climb higher to the altitude for days or weeks, you need to learn how to help your body to acclimatize. However, if you are planning to be there just for a day trip, you will only need to learn how to take care of yourself at high altitude region. In the past, I wrote an article on How To Handle High Altitude Sickness; you may refer back to that article for the relevant information for one day trip.

The golden rule for acclimatization at high altitude states that one should start acclimatizing at +/-10,000 feet (3,000 meters) above the sea level.  Once you reach that altitude, it is recommended that you increase the elevation of your stay at no more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) per night before you continue to ascend.  Resting overnight at 1,000 feet (300 meters) elevation increase each day will help your body to acclimatize naturally.  Your body will develop and increase the number of red blood cells to carry more oxygen in the blood and also, compensate the lower amount of oxygen in the air.

The rule does not prohibit trekkers to ascend beyond 1,000 feet (300 meters) during day hike.  However, trekkers must return to their base camp at no more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) increase in elevation per day for the best acclimatization result.

You can apply this rule every time your ground elevation reaches beyond 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above sea level whether you choose to stay in a hut, a lodge, or a campsite.

By following this golden rule, your body will gradually acclimatize to the high altitude environment, and you will enjoy your trip with less altitude sickness problems.