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Most people visiting the Alps for the first time are concerned about acclimatisation. Below are some of the key points to remember about acclimatisation, at Alpine altitudes:
i) Most feelings of nausea are created by your physical effort at altitude
ii) The most common effect of altitude is sleeping badly in mountain huts
iii) No one has died of altitude sickness (pulmonary or cerebral) in the Alps
iv) Many of the headaches are caused by sunstroke and dehydration effects
v) Breathing difficulties are frequently due to the dry and cold air, not altitude
Whilst we are not stating that altitude sickness does not exist at Alpine altitudes, most of the symptoms of altitude sickness that people feel, are possibly due to other natural reasons, and if these are remedied first it is unlikely that you will suffer from the altitude.
i) Technically you can suffer altitude sickness from 1000m (the height of Snowdon, or the Chamonix valley)
ii) In the Alps the altitude is not too great, and there are simple methods of overcoming altitude sickness at these heights. A basic plan of acclimatisation is advantageous, you should try and eat and drink often (even though you may loose apetite), and you can take asprin (this helps with any headaches you may suffer, and thins the blood slightly). If you also follow the addage of 'climb high, sleep low', you will get good rest and be able to overcome / delay many of the problems of altitude by good and rested physical condition. The classic example of this is that many Guides now choose to take clients up Mont Blanc from the first cable car, rather than an Alpine start from a hut (eg Cosmiques), and to sleep in a hut on the descent (eg Grands Mulets or the Tete Rousse). In this way you start out fresh, avoid the crowds, and can see good views throughout the ascent.
iii) If you feel that you are suffering from altitude sickness, as opposed to noticing the altitude, mention this to the others in your group, so that they can help monitor the situation.
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