Updated: Dec 4, 2020
All set to kick start your winter treks after this long dreadful pandemic? Well, The Happy Trekkers too wish you all the best for your upcoming treks but before making yourself set forth on your trek route let’s dive into something important for you to know.
There’s nothing like the cold wind prickling your skin through your apparel when you push your limits to reach that summit and with every kind of essential packed in your bag, I bet the thought of alcohol might have crossed your mind for once at least if you are a newbie.
Pardon for spoiling your future tipsy thoughts but alcohol and high altitudes are a total mismatched pair for you to accompany on your trek especially if it’s high altitude. So before digging deep into the uninvited hazards and health problems that comes gift packed with alcohol and cigarette smoking let’s bust some myths regarding the same.
MYTHS THAT ARE MEANT TO BE BUSTED
The chances of putting boxes of cigarettes and bottles of alcohol in the backpack became slim as people started getting aware of their health. Nonetheless keeping this in mind roads, routes, homestays are also extended and installed at the most unusual places for trekkers to trek safely and also helps them discourage the excuse of boosting their confidence by consuming alcohol and cigarettes just to reach the destination and not to quit halfway.
The temperature in high altitudes indeed makes our body demand serious warmth and coziness but to consume alcohol for the same is the most dull-witted thought one can ever have.
Consumption of alcohol dilates your blood vessels giving you a sense of warmth not making your body warm and cozy, not even the costliest or the cheapest alcohol can save you from the cold. It’s your essential clothes and good health that can save you from those high altitude dangers.
Secondly, getting drunk at high altitude treks is similar to crossing the road while the traffic is green. You don’t want your exciting adventure to turn into a bad trip for a lifetime, being tipsy at those curvy routes can make you separate from your trek group, also being wasted while exploring those serene beauties won’t let your mind to rest and concentrate. If alcohol ever helped in making the adventures more fun and remembering, then people have offered a glass of drink before your next big adventure sport be it Bungee jumping, Parachute gliding, Abseiling, Climbing, River Rafting etc. Moreover, alcohol has always aced in ruining people’s reputations for years now.
Now let’s talk about uninvited health problems.
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS
Our body needs ample time to adjust to the high altitude temperature and its weather and if you keep on consuming alcohol and cigarettes on your unacclimatized condition it will worsen up your health to the utmost. The problem is caused by anguished fatality seen in unacclimatized people shortly after reaching a certain high altitude. Smoking and alcohol consumption gives inadequate circulation in hands and feet making you more sensitive to the frostiness of the weather. Acclimatization on higher altitudes requires 2-3 nights of body rest, if you are a regular drinker or chain smoker give your body a month or two to work up with your red blood cells and increase the adaptability of the vascular system.
If you need detailed information about AMS head out to our article on "What is Acute Mountain Sickness?" for sound knowledge.
Hypothermia occurs when the core body temperature drops down to 35 degrees or less. Our vital organs would not function properly even with the slightest core body temperature declination and when you drink alcohol in high altitudes your body supply the core body heat to your hands and feet making your superficial area like your skin warm but your core body colder which can be fatal making your trek the last adventure of your life.
Diuretics increase the excretion of water from our bodies and as already known alcohol is a strong diuretic which forces your body to lose more amount of water than normal. A plenitude of water is lost from your body in the form of vapor by sweat already. Besides alcohol increases the frequency of urine more than your normal water intake frequency making your body dehydrated from within. Dehydration can also make you more susceptible to other health problems.
REDUCED RATE OF BREATHING
Alcohol makes the senses of people dull which cause slow breathing, in high altitude treks your body requires more oxygen to become comfortable with the lower temperature and environment so it needs deep breathing for the inhalation of an ample amount of oxygen but when you opt for alcohol on your high altitude trek it forces your body for shallow breathing making you take in less oxygen and leading you towards shortness of breath.
Alcohol changes your body's metabolism even a little swig can make your health worsen. Our body is designed to process a certain amount of filtration in a day and when you drink alcohol it does not completely gets flushed out of the body rather it keeps circulating in your bloodstream hampering your liver from storing certain nutrients including iron necessary for hemoglobin production. It interferes with the capacity of your RBC for absorbing oxygen which can eventually lead to serious health problems.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can already be an uninvited friend on your trek if you spend most of your days on sea level. Consuming alcohol will trigger this condition more. It might begin as a mild medical condition, but it may further proceed causing High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and/or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE).
There are so many things that the mountains will make you explore on the great heights, you will have so many amazing realizations, getting in touch with your life in a whole different way. So, ditch that alcohol and let that adrenaline rush of hitting the summit, a drug for you to complete your trek.