High Altitude Hike Safety: What You Need to Know

Hiking is a great way to get another view of the world around you, but it can also take you to high elevations that your body isn't used to. As you climb, your body has to acclimate to the new altitude, and every move you make affects how well your body can effectively do that. Everything plays a part, from how quickly you ascend the mountain to the food you eat.

When your body can't acclimate, you're at risk for a variety of illnesses. Here's what you need to know for a safe and enjoyable high altitude trek.

Is Your Hike High Altitude?

To be considered high altitude, the mountain must be 8,000 to 12,000 feet tall, and very high altitude hikes are on 12,000 to 18,000 foot mountains.

Here are a few examples of high altitude hikes in the U.S.:

  • Guadalupe Peak, Guadalupe Mountains National Park: 8,749 feet
  • Avalanche Peak, Yellowstone National Park: 10,568 feet
  • Telescope Peak, Death Valley: 11,049 feet

At these heights, your body goes through a variety of changes, having to acclimatize as you move higher and higher. In this process a number of things happen, including:

  • Increase in depth of respiration
  • Increase in the amount of blood being pushed into your lungs so you can breathe
  • Increase in red blood cell production to carry oxygen

More: 10 Must-Have Items for Your Hiking Emergency Kit

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About the Author

Jessica Sanders

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

Jessica Sanders is the former online editor for ReserveAmerica.com. After many years of camping and hiking in the Northeast, she's exploring what the West has to offer and sharing all of her knowledge with you. She's a s'mores master, campsite connoisseur, writer, runner and lover of all things outdoors. Follow her on Google+

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