One of my greatest travel pleasures is visiting the world’s mountain ranges. Sadly, whilst I love trekking, my body seems to completely break down at around 5,000m above sea level where to date I’ve managed three fairly serious bouts of acute mountain sickness, one which could easily have cost me my life!

My first experience of mountain trekking was in Wales with my husband, Chris. Unfortunately for me he is an ex-Royal Marine who is trained in mountain and arctic warfare meaning he takes some keeping up with, as I was soon about to discover 800m up a mountain in Snowdonia when I collapsed in a sweaty heap. This incident was a small taste of what was to come as we moved from the pleasant rolling hills of the UK into some serious high altitude trekking, first of all in Ecuador.

Ecuador is one of my favourite countries in the world. It’s only a small country but if has rainforest, beaches, stunning colonial cities, and of course the indescribable GalΓ‘pagos Islands. It also has fantastic volcanoes, such as Cotopaxi which we were lured to once we’d spent a few nights relaxing in Quito.Β  Our aim was to climb 4,800m towards the summit and funnily enough I made this climb without too much trouble. It was only when we decided to push a little further for the magic 5,000m mark that my body rebelled, resulting in a splitting headache and some pretty serious nausea. Oh well, I was proud to have made it that far and the views were certainly worth the effort.

climbing-cotopaxi-start1

My second experience of altitude sickness occurred in the mighty Himalayas. We had booked ourselves onto an Everest Base-Camp trek which while quite expensive and touristy is worth the effort just for the incredible flight alone from Kathmandu to Lukla airport. This time after 8 days of trekking and just one day away from Base-Camp we got caught in a hideous snow-storm at 5,000m, just as my altitude sickness kicked in again. This time I also had the added joy of suffering from hypothermia as well and if it wasn’t for my mountain guide leading me down to safety (Chris has raced off ahead with the porter to the next overnight stop) I might not be here typing this blog post!

My third experience of altitude sickness – I know, I should probably have learned my lesson by now – was climbing a volcano near the amazing Peruvian city of Arequipa. Against Chris’s strenuous advice I booked myself onto a short two-day trek to the summit of Misti which would again, theoretically, take me well above 5,000m above sea level. But guess what, 4,850m up my body behaved as it always does. Much to Chris’s great annoyance as he then had to accompany me back down the volcano to the safety.

I imagine by now you’ve assumed that I’ve learnt my lesson and will give up on high altitude trekking? Ha, you obviously don’t know me very well then!

About Tammyonthemove

Tammy & Chris are a couple hailing from Germany and England, meaning between them they are efficient and polite, but unable to talk about football. Find out why they stopped pushing pens around the British civil service to travel the world on their blog.

22 Thoughts on “My Travel Pleasure and Mortal Weakness

  1. Beautiful cover! I want to go there tooo

  2. Amazing pic, Tammy πŸ™‚ Is it yours?

  3. I like watching mountains but not climbing them.

    Looking forward to reading about your next experience of altitude sickness! LOL

  4. The picture is indeed amazing. So are the Himalayas. Let me ask you though, how much does it cost to hire a sherpa guide?

    • Tammyonthemove on April 7, 2016 at 2:34 pm said:

      I am not sure how it is to hire a sherpa privately I’m afraid as we booked a tour through an agency that included a sherpa. But I think it is negotiable. There are a few forums out there where you could find out I think.

      • One last question – in your opinion, are sherpas that good in mountain guiding or their skills are too exaggerated? I mean, after all its not the sherpas that conquer the highest peaks, but western climbers. So wouldn’t be a better idea to hire an English speaking professional climber with many seasons on ice rather than a local guy who’s only doing it for the money?

        • Tammyonthemove on April 28, 2016 at 10:30 am said:

          If I had the choice I would go with a sherpa. They grew up in the mountains, so they know every corner. They know exactly when to stop and where to find shelter if necessary. They are incredibly tough people. I saw sherpas carrying wardrobes up the Himalayas. No Western climber could do that. Plus, you support the local economy if you hire a local sherpa, and it helps them support their family.

  5. You’ve experienced altitude sickness three times and you haven’t given up climbing mountains? Good for you!

  6. Climbing, hiking, and trekking are amazing, but not that easy at all. People have to be well prepared before going on that kind of trips, but the feel when you are on the top of the mountain is simply outstanding like you are already in heaven. πŸ™‚

    • Tammyonthemove on April 7, 2016 at 2:31 pm said:

      It isn’t easy indeed, but you are right-no matter how much you suffer, that amazing view on the summit makes all the pain disappear again.

  7. I’ve ever wondered what it’s like to see the world from it highest point…? Do you start to feel like some Olympus god?

    • Tammyonthemove on April 28, 2016 at 10:28 am said:

      It is a great feeling Gareth, because when you hike up that mountain, all you want to do is swear. Once you are at the top, you will forget about all the pain you endured during the ascent.

  8. Congratulations to the photographer. Very good photo.

  9. Great! I wish I could do this, but I am having a fear of heights and it’s almost impossible. But I am willing to try some therapy and go for it.

    • Tammyonthemove on May 27, 2016 at 8:53 pm said:

      You know what, I am scared of heights too, but most mountain hikes don’t really expose you to sheer drops. If you do a bit of research you can find routes that a vertigo friendly.

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