Adventures in…Acclimatization?

climbing la tourHmmm…best acclimatization memories? As if suffering through lung-burning sessions for the sake of climbing is fun? Actually, getting ready for a big outdoor adventure can be pretty inspiring. The process of preparing to do something challenging can be as memorable as achieving it. I’ve done sprints up steep mountain slopes, gone on enduro-mountain bike rides, and gotten up in the dark to do push-ups and sit-ups before work. But some of my favorite training memories are the ones I’ve shared with friends.

A few years ago, I spent a few weeks in Chamonix, France in late-November/early-December just as the snow started falling. Conditions weren’t good enough yet for full-on skiing…the snow-cover was thin and spotty. But my friend Andy Parkin needed to train for a solo winter expedition he was taking to climb a new peak in the Himalaya. Since I was there, I got roped into his acclimatization routine. Each day, we set off on a new grueling adventure, but even in the midst of it, it was all really, really fun. We climbed up to the top of mountains and enjoyed them all to ourselves, as the ski lifts weren’t yet open. And when we got hungry, we looked around for mountain huts that we could pilfer for food. At this one, we found a whole box of frozen muffins…just a few minutes inside of my jacket, it was thawed out.

muffin find

We ski toured with heavy packs of gear so that we could ice climb:

traci macnamara climbing

And we always had totally awe-inspiring views as the reward for our efforts. Here…the clouds parted above Vallorcine:


And we got to watch the sun go down from high up in the freezing-cold Berard Valley.

berard valley

Andy’s out on another climbing expedition right now, so I’m wishing him well and hoping that he’s acclimating nicely in Nepal!

Want to know more about how to acclimatize effectively for high altitudes?
Read my article on the Survival Skills website:
“Survive High Altitudes: How to Acclimatize”
If you’re a flatlander and you’d like to go on a hiking or backcountry camping adventure at a high elevation, you can do a few things to acclimatize successfully to high altitude conditions. Acclimatization, or acclimation as it’s sometimes called, is the process by which the human body adapts physiologically to different environmental conditions…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.


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