About a week ago, my family and I hiked to Everest Base Camp (EBC) trek. The day after reaching EBC, my Dad, Indra (our EBC guide), and I tried to hike to the summit of Kala Patthar. When we were almost at the top, I got altitude sickness. It was terrible, and now I will tell you about how you can get it, what it feels like, and how to treat it.
What is Altitude Sickness?
Altitude sickness occurs anywhere above 2,400 meters. Climbers usually get altitude sickness when they climb too high too fast. That’s why we did acclimatization hikes on our trek.
Some signs and symptoms are headache, nausea, fatigue and dizziness, shortness of breath, insomnia, and nosebleed. If you don’t go down immediately, it can lead to pulmonary edema and cerebral edema. This will then, sadly, kill you.
If you notice that you are starting to get altitude sickness, GO DOWN IMMEDIATELY! If you don’t go down ASAP, it can get lethal.
A good thing to have once you go down, and after the altitude sickness goes away, are some tea and chocolate. The tea can settle your stomach, and the chocolate will give you everlasting deliciousness!
The town of Gorak Shep with Kala Patthar in the background.
What is it like to get Altitude Sickness?
When I got altitude sickness, it was a wild ride. Since I was at about 5500m (18,000 ft.), it was super hard to breath. I would walk for a little and get very tired. The first thing I felt was extreme tiredness. I kept panting and couldn’t catch my breath when we stopped. Then, my whole body got really tingly, and I felt like I had to go down immediately. Dad called to Indra to come over, and he picked me up and ran me down the mountain on his back. I started throwing up all over myself, but when we got back down to Gorak Shep (5100m) I was already feeling better. I didn’t have any more altitude sickness, and I just laid down and relaxed while drinking tea to settle my body.
In conclusion, altitude sickness is a crazy thing to get, and if you do get it, you should descend as fast as you can. We saw trekkers along the way dealing with some degree of altitude sickness. We also saw several helicopters a day rescuing people with altitude sickness. I was lucky that we recognized the symptoms early and treated it immediately.