Acclimatization at home!
In the months June and July some a strange constant rumbling noise is coming from my apartment during the nights. Also my electricity bill a quite a bit higher. One could think I’m running an illegal drug lab and growing marijuana. No, not the case, I’m pre-acclimatizing at home in preparation for our expedition to Pik Korzhenevskaya and Pik Communisma, both mountains above 7.000m.
But how? Altitudedream.com sponsors both Gijs and myself an hypoxtic tent that can you can place above your bed (different versions). The tent comes some with something that looks like a generator (producing the noise) that filters the oxygen from the air. In this way you can simulate up to an altitude of even 6.400m, although we never sleep at a higher setting than 4.000m (Gijs tried once a higher setting, but this was not the best idea - ask him). We slept in this tent for approximately 4 weeks, every night increasing the the altitude a bit, to keep our oxygen saturation levels around 88%-92% during the night. By doing this, our body is constantly adapting to the new lack of oxygen, by producing more red blood cells.
We can also connect the generator to a mask. With this mask you can either do some passive ‘training’ while watching tv, or actively train on an home trainer. Especially the last is very tough. Exercising with oxygen levels dipping to the 70% is tough, but comparable to climbing a mountain!
But why? Two years, ago when climbing Khan Tengri we used this technique for the first time. It made it possible to climb Khan Tengri (7.000m) in only about10 days! And the amount of headaches I had to endure during the climb were much less. This was a big win compared to the 20 days or so we needed for Pik Lenin (7.134m). Straight from sealevel to 4000m basecamp is not ideal without pre-acclimatization If we would have lived near the Alps, we had the alternative to do this pre-acclimatization by climbing some 4000m mountains, but unfortunately those are some 10 hours drive away, so not really an option. So, these are our Dutch mountains! And it works quite well!
To be honest, there are more pleasant things than sleeping in an hypoxic tent. You will definitely notice that you will in general wake up more tired, but overall it is a very good method to pre-acclimatize at home! Thanks Altitudedream.com!