When one who lives pretty much a tad above sea level visits a mountain area, they are usually awed by the magnificent views and vistas, unless, of course they are suffering from altitude sickness, medically known as hypoxia.
I love mountains. I have visited the ones in Virginia often especially to view the fall foliage. The Blue Ridge’s elevations, however, are under 7,000 ft. at their highest. The Rockies on the other hand can reach elevations of 14,000 ft. If you are a number person you know that is twice the elevation of Eastern Mountains.
A few years back I visited one of my friends who lived in Estes Park, Colorado. Almost as soon as I got there I felt sick. We are talking, headache, nausea, etc. I didn’t upchuck, but was darn near close. The trip progressed and I semi-acclimated. My sister and daughter were fine, no problems…go figure.
Fast forward several years and I visited again this time with my husband and son. Since they had never seen the Rockies, we decided to go right up to the highest elevation the first day. Big mistake! One of the first things they tell you about Altitude sickness is to take each 1,000 ft. slow. Driving up the trail ridge road, I started to get a headache. By the time we reached the summit…I was in a prone position not even able to walk to the bathroom that I desperately needed to use. Husband and son were just fine!! Why is it I always manage to travel with those who don’t get it, and I am not only talking about the sickness.
I forced myself to rise. I staggered over to the edge of the mountain and snapped a few photos. I got a few wonderful photos-- of my shoes. Fortunately I did manage to capture some mountain scenes as well. Was I experiencing this awful feeling because I wasn’t in tiptop shape I wondered? With a little research I discovered that, nope, being in shape hasn’t a thing to do with it. It’s all about the oxygen, and water. I guess I was sorry I didn’t drink the 3 bottles of water offered to me by my friend who is a bit more knowledgeable about Mountain sickness.
Some people describe the symptoms of Hypoxia as similar to a hangover. Not being a drinker and never having experienced such phenomena (yes, I was a goody-goody) all I can say is if that is what if feels like to have a hangover it is a wonder anyone ever drinks a drop!
I guess, having had this experience, I can say without hesitation that scaling Mt. Everest, for me, will forever be out of the question.