Trekking with Children

Trekking with Children

Children

Trekking with children in the Himalaya obviously requires extra effort and planning, but nearly every family that tries it loves. it. Even if your kids are too young to remember daily events a few years hence, the experience of traveling in a mountainous land where there are no roads, machinery or television will leave a lasting, positive impression.

It’s not ideal if you have no previous experience of trekking, but otherwise having children with you is likely to enrich the entire experience for everyone. Plan shorter days, make sure their gear is as good as yours, and hire extra staff to look after them and to carry those under the age of eight if the going gets tough.

Altitude

A complex and as yet not fully understood set of physical and biochemical changes occurs as the human body is exposed to the decreased levels of oxygen available in the air breathed at high altitude. The general term used to describe these changes is acclimatisation.

Ascending too fast for adequate acclimatisation to take place can result in a person experiencing symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). It is essential that anyone contemplating a trek in the Himalaya has a basic knowledge of the symptoms of AMS, what can be done to prevent them, and what must be done should they occur. Failure to recognize and address these simple criteria can have disastrous, even fatal, consequences. See Health and Safety on page 169 for a discussion of AMS. Recommended further reading on health, first aid and altitude-related topics can also be found in the bibliography.

You must also be psychologically prepared. There is no way of knowing beforehand who will be susceptible to AMS, or when a particular individual will experience it. Age, sex, physical fitness, will-power and pressing itineraries have absolutely no bearing on AMS, and you must be ready at all times to respond appropriately, should a problem develop. It is an interesting fact that 80 percent of all fatalities due to AMS occur with people on organized treks, while such people only account for 40 percent of those trekking in Nepal. This imbalance points to several things. Groups have itineraries to stick to, and members may suppress or ignore symptoms for fear of interrupting the schedule. Inexperienced leaders may be reluctant to either hold up an entire group or take on the logistical problems of splitting a party. Such scenarios must be avoided, and the best way of doing this is to ensure that you communicate with and look after each other right from the start.

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