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-   -   Thoughts on high altitude sickness (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/staying-healthy-on-the-road/thoughts-on-high-altitude-sickness-38050)

Forsellini 26 Sep 2008 16:33

Thoughts on high altitude sickness
Crossing Paso de Jama is around 15000 feet with about 180 miles between towns. Should that be considered risky for travelers? Anyone know about the altitudes leading to Cuzco?

beddhist 26 Sep 2008 17:26

Assuming the road is sealed and the towns are below 2500m altitude you will be safe. At worst you risk a headache on the way down.

mollydog 26 Sep 2008 17:46

The good news riding your bike is that you will climb gradually

MountainMan 27 Sep 2008 03:56

Hey Forsellini,

Ditto to the you should be ok comments. A rough rule of thumb is that at 13,000 feet you start watching altitudes and how you feel. Above that height, it is suggested that you only ascend as little as 1,000 feet per day to allow your body time to acclimatize. That is hiking of course so on a bike the bad thing is that you can ascend way above that quickly but you can also descend before you are exposed to those altitudes for too long of a period. 180 miles is pretty short, you'll be through there pretty quick. Keep in mind that climb high, sleep low is something that all mountaineers follow. You expose your body to a higher altitude, that kicks the body into gear and you descend lower to sleep.

It depends on where you are coming from and the altitude you have been exposed to before you get there, but in general you should be fine. I would say that there is a very high probability that you will get altitude sickness (eg, headache, loss of appetite, insomnia) but not AMS (acute mountain sickness) of which the less ideal symptoms are pulmonary edema or cerebral edema (bleeding in the lungs or brain). You can die from those later things, but just be aware they exist. For most people, they won't be affected but I have seen a few people whose physiology simply didn't adapt to altitude very well and had to descend. That is the miracle cure if you are one of those rare people, you will feel it and you can just descend.

Have fun, I'm sure it'll be a beautiful ride.

Forsellini 27 Sep 2008 17:17

Thanks for the thoughts
Sounds like good advice!

Tim Cullis 27 Sep 2008 22:02

Different people react in differing degrees, I am quite susceptable to altitude.

I flew in from sea level at Lima to Juliaca and found I had real dizzyness problems in the airport building. But after a week or so acclimatising I did the Inca Trail at 4200m. Cuzco was around 3500m I think.

The good news is that you get tipsy on the smallest amount of alcohol!


pbekkerh 27 Sep 2008 23:44


Originally Posted by mollydog (Post 208479)
......... I recommend eating some good hard candy as you climb. The Candy idea came from a local Peruvian business man who lived in Lima but traveled into the Andes for work several times a year. On the train they offered Oxygen. I never used it, never felt sick. Just ate a couple pieces of Candy and was fine.

The advice from MountainMan and beddhist is sound advice, but please don't tell anyone they can avoid AMS with candy! As already said, AMS can be deadly if not understood.

PS: for the record, oedema/edema is liquid build up, not bleeding, but in the brain or lungs, it will kill you anyway.
Oedema Introduction - Health encyclopaedia - NHS Direct

DLbiten 28 Sep 2008 01:41

Take your time and you may be ok. I got altitude sickness at around 13,500 feet on hike up pikes peak not any fun. Puking, tired, stumbiling around. Good thing is the fix is easy gust go down a few 1,000 feet and rest. If you have the time take a few days for the run and spend some time up there. if you smoke try to little of that. Go for little walks rest often helps the body to ajust. Dont do what I did and push your self.

The candy was was probably to off set the body's burning of caleroies, more fule on the fier so to speak. Wont stop you from getting sick water wont just help with the symptoms.

teflon 28 Sep 2008 03:09


Originally Posted by DLbiten (Post 208614)
...I got altitude sickness at around 13,500 feet on hike up pikes peak not any fun...

I think I had it just driving over the Alps. It was the mother of all headaches (painkillers didn't touch it) and I felt sick and light-headed. Reminded me of a really bad hangover. I just put it down to tiredness and not drinking enough water. When I got down to the flat, I drank lots more water with some more painkillers and had a nap - which helped a bit. I thought this only happened to mountain climbers. I'm reading now that some people are more prone than others and it could even be dangerous.

mollydog 28 Sep 2008 05:21

Most overland MC travelers will have been at altitude before they arrive in Peru'

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