Lowering the Risk of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

The journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine published an article in June with new evidence-based guidelines on acute mountain sickness (AMS), also known as altitude sickness, as well as HAPE and HACE. The article, Wilderness Medical Society Consensus Guidelines for the Prevention and Treatment of Acute Altitude Illness (also: the erratum, with a corrected risk table), is worth reading in full, but I’m going to pull out two highlights.

First, how to keep our risk low. The paper lists three risk categories: low, medium, and high. The description of the “low” category is a good rule for planning mountain trips. Note that the altitudes listed are sleeping altitudes. You can hike higher, but you need to sleep low.\

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Tarp Pitch: The Cave

I’ve mentioned this pitch in a couple of other posts, but it deserves its own. This is the tarp pitch I use most often. The video below doesn’t name it and it isn’t listed in David Macpherson’s encyclopedic collection of tarp pitches, so I call it “The Cave”.

I learned the pitch from this YouTube video about pitching an 8×10 Etowah tarp. The video is short and clear, less than two minutes, and it is much better than reading a description. Watch carefully, you do not stake the rear corners. You stake midway between the center and the corners.

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