Climb High, Sleep Low by Nanda Kishor


Toastmasters Project 2 Speech : Organize Your Speech


Speech Title : Climb High, Sleep Low


Nanda Kishor


Climb High, Sleep Low
If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!

Mr. / Ms. Toastmaster, Fellow speech crafters & esteemed guests – Travelling at high altitude can be dangerous!!!
Recently,the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) issued a travel advise for the Kailash Manasa Sarovar piligrims going with private
travel agents to take caution & "prepare for the difficulties that they may have to face" on the high altitude journey.

Climb High, Sleep Low
High Altitude Trip by Nanda Kishor

Believe me friends – TWO years ago even I was not familiar with the term "High Altitude Journey".
One of my Good pals, Ajit,offered me to join a trip along with him to the High Altitudes & Without a 2nd thought I happily accepted to travel.

Then I started digging for information about high altitude travel. I became aware that millions of people all over the world travel to high altitude every year.

By the way, what is high altitude?

Chennai is at sea level and you can use this as a benchmark to measure the altitude of any other place in the world.
Ex: Bangalore's altitude is at around 3000ft above the sea level.

There are 3 categories in which we can divide the high altitude regions:

(a) High altitude – Approx. 5000ft to 12000 ft above the sea level
Places like Munnar in South India, Rohtang Pass in Kullu-Manali falls in this category

(b) Very High Altitude – Approx. 12000 ft to 18045ft above the sea level
Ex: Manasa Sarovara in Tibet situated at an altitude around 15000 ft

(c) Extreme High Altitude – 18045 ft and above
Ex: Khardungla Pass near Leh / Ladakh region – highest motorable road in this world as per Guiness Book of World Records, Mount Everest, etc.
Atleast 20% of the people who are travelling in the high altitude & very high altitude regions are affected by some form of "altitude sickness" OR so-called "Early Mountain Sickness".This kind of sickness. usually develops during first 2-3 days at high altitude. This number rises to 50% above extreme altitude conditions. While most cases of altitude illness are mild & self-limiting, some cases can become life threatening. How greatly one is affected by altitude varies from person to person & depends on how gradually one has made the ascent during the journey.

If you're planning a trip to altitudes above 5000Ft then knowledge is the best prevention for altitude illness.

At this point of time, instead of loading you with lot of infromation I'd like to share my real life experience :

  • Initially when we planned to go by bike and many people opposed the idea. But the reality is if you go by flight, impact of altitude on you would be high because the change in altitude is not gradual. Moreover you will be missing the breath-taking scenes on the way to the destination. It is up to you to choose the mode of transport based on your travel schedule.
  • During the evening of the 2nd day, we reached "Pang" near "Tanglang La" – the 2nd highest motorable road in the world. Each member of my team started showing different symptoms like headache, dizziness, Gastric problem, Feelings of fatigue, Sleep disruption, shortness of breath. I experienced some of these too. These symptoms are quite natural during high altitude journey and there is no reason to panic.
  • On the 3rd day of my journey, everyone was feeling better except one of my friends. He had difficulty in breathing. This happens due to less oxygen at higher altitude and this is one of the major cause of altitude illness. Though he was suffering, we decided to move further and also had a plan B to go back to the lower altitude if the symptom increases. We thought of Plan B as we were aware that coninuing to higher altitudes without proper acclimatization can lead to potentially serious, even life threatening illness. When I say acclimatization – I'm referring to the time your body needs to get adjusted with the new altitude and usually it takes 1-3 days at that altitude.
  • Keep a map of your travel route handy since it was of great help for us. We decided to move further because we were aware that there is descent on the way. The descent helped my friend to overcome the shortness of breath.

I'd like to share some tips with you to help you prepare better for a safe high altitude journey:

  • Always ensure you have sufficient time for acclimatization in your travel schedule so that your body can adjust to the effect of new altitude.
  • Visit your family doctor – and take their advice before you travel to high altitude places. Also ensure you have adequate supply of your regular medications before you begin your trip.
  • Group Travel is an excellent way to reduce the likelihood of altitude sickness. Team work & togetherness leads to success.
  • Being fit is not considered as a prevention factor in any high altitude jounrey. However being physically fit, you stand a better chance if you are required to participate in a rescue effort, maybe to help another team member.
  • Get Hydrated – Plan to carry water bottle(s), drink enough water (preferably boiled water) – atleat 6-8 glasses per day and try to avoid coffee & alcohol.
  • Get Rested – Take proper rest, Plan a rest day or two once you arrive at your destination to get acclimatized.
  • Get educated – Best treatment for altitude illnes is to avoid getting sick in the first place. Carry the Mountain first aid kit too. You should know the symptoms, ascent guidelines & treatment methods for altitude sickness.

Friends, Many of the world's most fascinating environment exist at high altitudes. Whether you plan a leisurely visit or an aggressive wilderness expedition, altitude sickness must be a factor in your planning.

Last but not the least:
Climb High, Sleep Low – This is the (maxim OR) ascent guidelines mantra used by hiking experts.
When you climb high, If you begin to show symptoms of altitude sickness, Don't go higher and take rest until symptoms decrease.
If symptoms increase, go down, down, down!

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