Year after year the Raid has seen participation from both professionals and less experienced first-timers who want a taste of driving in the Himalayas. Of how difficult to drive the roads are has been talked in our earlier blogs. The driving is difficult to say the least. How to prepare to tackle high altitude, the unseen deadly enemy, both for the car and crew, is discussed below.
High altitude affects people in different ways. Unfortunately many continue living in denial thinking that if they experience a headache it is probably minor and will go away soon.
However, little do they know that at such high altitudes their very lives could be in danger. Altitude affects different people differently. Youth has the small advantage of fitness, lower blood pressure and a positive attitude. However, all that adds up to a more demanding physical exertion level. The higher the exertion, the easier AMS will strike you down. Age remains relatively relaxed but could have high blood pressure as a daily companion. Medication normally fixes this handicap.
Keeping the above in mind, let’s look at some common symptoms. Acute Mountain Sickness starts with a headache, breathlessness, loss of appetite, vomiting, nausea and inability to sleep. So be cautious when you start noticing these signs. Besides, keep note of the following to help you surge ahead and out of this situation:
General dos and don’ts
- Stay hydrated because at high altitudes dehydration triggers AMS. Since you tend to get dehydrated without realizing it, drink plenty of water, even when not thirsty.
- Eat a high-carb diet whenever possible and irrespective of whether you’re hungry or not.
- Carry chocolate bars with you.
- Avoid exerting unnecessarily till the time you’re fully acclimatized.
- Do not smoke or consume alcohol !
- Consult a doctor to find out if you are medically fit to participate in the Raid, especially if you are a diabetic, asthmatic; have a lung condition or heart disease.
- Finally, don’t forget to read the medical checklist on Raid De Himalaya’s official website.
- The easiest fix for oxygen deprivation.
Protection from harsh sun:
- You will be exposed to UV radiations, so carry a high SPF sunscreen to protect yourself from the harsh sun.
- Wear sunglasses to safeguard your eyes, preferably those that filter UV rays.
- Carry a moisturizer and keep applying it
- Carry a lip balm for your chapped lips because dry lips. They are the first sign of dehydration.
Protection from cold:
- Wear layers: both thermals and wind-proof. If it’s bright, warm and sunny take off the layers, but when it starts getting cold, quickly layer up again!
- Carry a sleeping bag. Although the sweep vehicles will come to your rescue, it may take them a couple of hours depending on the time of the day and your location. This will be a lifesaver because you may have to wait at subzero temperatures!
At this juncture, we must warn you that if AMS is ignored there lies a great risk that it may progress to either or both: high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE). Let’s discuss them too:
Pulmonary Edema: a condition in which your lungs start getting filled up with water that causes breathlessness, dry cough in an already ‘starved-of-air-body’.
Cerebral Edema: is a condition when your brain starts retaining water and starts swelling. Symptoms include headache, visual impairment, increased nausea, fatigue, bladder and bowel dysfunction and confusion.
Both conditions require immediate medical attention and a descent to lower altitudes is a must. During the rally if you show any signs, you must inform a Raid official immediately so that they can track you and with their knowledge help you lose altitude and recover. The organizers own and have access to ‘Portable Altitude Chambers’that are basically the fastest recovery method in both cases.
As long as you’re cautious and are listening to what your body is trying to tell you, all will go as planned !
If you want to participate in the Raid, please see details on this link