Protect Your Brain

Follow these steps to prevent high-altitude trouble in your head.

Sep 30, 2009
Outside Magazine
Enlarged VR spaces

Enlarged VR spaces—more common in the elderly—are clearly visible on this young amateur climber's brain scan after Aconcagua

1. Coming from sea level? Spend night one at about 5,000 feet.

2. Ascend as slowly as possible. Medically speaking, the safest rate is 1,000 feet per day above 9,000 feet.

3. Minimize time above 19,500 feet.

4. Climb high, sleep low. The higher elevation will kick-start the acclimatization process, while descending at night allows the body to adapt at a safer elevation. Or build in a rest day every 2-3 days.

5. Listen to your body. Never ascend with obvious symptoms of altitude sickness; descend if symptoms worsen.

6. Stay hydrated, avoid excess salt, and eat foods rich in carbohydrates.

7. Don't drink alcohol—it's dehydrating and depresses breathing.

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