Why “Altitude Sickness” Is Killing The Spirit Of Exploration

Today, we want to discuss a topic that bothers us  all the time. Tell us, does this bother you too?

There’s this thing called “altitude sickness” that we see in most trekkers.

We’re not talking about anything health-related here.

We’re talking about this tendency amongst trekkers to get hungry for higher and higher altitudes after each trek.

They start with a trek like Kedarkantha at 12,500 ft, jump to Roopkund at 16,000 ft and then it’s suddenly Kanamo Peak at 19,000 ft!

And then what?

Why it bothers us

At Indiahikes we see trekking very differently.

We don’t see trekking as a sport where you progress to more and more difficult treks. In fact, we don’t even look at ‘altitude’ as a criterion while choosing a trek.

We believe every trek is worth exploring — whether in the Himalayas or in the Aravallis, or in the Sahyadris or in the Western Ghats. That’s when you live by the real spirit of exploration.

True, we tag some of our treks as “Best trek for beginners” but that does not mean that it is not meant for experienced trekkers.

In fact, our trek leaders, founders, pro trekkers, they all jump at the idea of a new trek — their ears prick even at the sound of the easiest trek.

So our issue is that of late trekking has become a meaningless chase for higher altitudes, without the true spirit of exploring. You lose out on variety, you lose out on culture and you lose out on nature. All you get is “altitude sickness”! Why all this glory-hunting?

We know we sound a bit disgruntled. Are we wrong in thinking this?

What you do think?

Can you share your thoughts with us in the comments section below?

We really want to see what most trekkers think. Hope to read your comment here.

Cover picture by Saini Krishnamurthy

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69 thoughts on “Why “Altitude Sickness” Is Killing The Spirit Of Exploration

  1. Good point! After doing rupin pass and roopkund, I’m actually heading for a lower altitude trek, pangarchulla, this year. And I have KGL planned for next year which is even lower down. Altitude is the last criteria for a trek.

  2. Dear swathi
    You have raised a very valid point and actually touched a cord in my heart. I have taken to trekking just three years back and done 2 treks (roopkund and buran ghati) with IH. I shall be the devil’s advocate… For I have a thought process exactly as u pointed out, the love of higher altitudes. Well, I graduated from Triund to roopkund and then to buran ghati and shall be doing kedartal this summer with IH. As absurd it may sound the human nature drives and strives to do things not routinely done and accomplished by many. So the ‘high’ of getting to a height which few have explored intrigues many a soul like me. Secondly, most of these higher altitude places are relatively untouched with minimal commercialization ( roopkund is a significant exception to that). Thirdly, an altitude which is overtly challenging, should be done in better part of your life and health (Age does catch on… And most of us may not be fighting fit in our forties /fifties). Though I have Trekked with people in their fifties and even sixties, that number is quite less. Who knows if I shall be that agile to complete a difficult trek! Fourthly, in my particular case I wish to save the easier and moderate ones to be done with my daughter when she is old enough to go on a trek as per your standards. Everyone may have different (few may be scientifically invalid) reasons to scale the ‘higher’heights… But the adrenaline rush always wins!

    1. I hadn’t thought about point 3 & 4 given by you earlier but I do agree with point 4 now while I would disagree with point 3. I started trekking at 28. I am 31 now but if one maintains right fitness he can surely keep trekking even till 60 so the point.
      I have seen examples of people doing so. An uncle aged about 55 in my first trek Roopkund have since then done double the treks I have (Roopkund, Hampta,Stok& Chandrashila). He was surely slower than others but fit enough to complete all the above treks and much more like Chadar etc.
      Your 1st two points do stand valid though as per me. I too believe those factors drive people for higher altitudes

  3. Good point.. I have started Himalayan treking from Sandhakphu and then went for Roopkund.. Big jump.. Again done sighalllila pass with phalut.. After that I went for Vasuki Taal with Tapavan.. Then again went for Chadar Trek.. After that done Goechala Trek and last year done kauri pass.. So I have done both Difficult Moderate Difficult and very easy ones.. I choose all these trekS for different reasons and different seasons to enjoy the beauty of nature.. Offcouse going for higher altitude is a catch but also choosing the right one is what matters most..so next my aim is to go for solo trek to discover my potential and attitude towards trek.. I love Himalayas and really want to do trek for only its beauty and benefits..

  4. I don’t think there is any thing wrong about achieving personal altitude targets. That’s totally personal for a person. If that wasn’t there, no one would have ever attempted Mt Everest. Exploring is different for everyone for some it’s the food, for some it’s culture or terrain or the heights. There is nothing wrong as long as the mountains, locals and their values are respected. People like to challenge themselves just like someone started running for weight loss and got the hunger to run marathons and then they like to go for ultra man or ironman! It’s natural and good!

  5. Swathi,

    This article did put into a pensive mood. I often want to improvise and I am bewildered choosing between treks that are easy less altitude and difficult high altitude and now I realize the true spirit of trekking lies with exploration and experience.

    PS : Who is Sneha you referred to in the EMAL?

  6. I guess its a reflection of our generation. Its seen in almost all walks of Life. We value the results (and the likes) rather than the process..!

  7. Trekking for me is not a sport where I need to come First & then take on greater challenge. I go on treks to enjoy the natural beauty & the trek as a whole.

    Increasing the altitude with each trek, would lead to missing out on some of the wonderful treks at same/lower altitude.

  8. Altitude won’t matter for those who romanticize trekking, for someone who views trekking as a challenge and a sport, the rush for higher altitude will always be there

  9. Hey there Swati,
    I’d like to start of by confessing that not too long ago ,I was a victim of ‘altitude sickness’ .
    I ticked off my trek with Sandakphu and followed by Goecha La and even other North Indian High alt. Treks.

    Previously, I’d choose my trek based on the criteria on how much of sense of vague achievement I’d earn and could brag to myself how ‘high’ I’ve climbed.

    Soon enough,with maturity striking me like that of a bat to a ball, I finally garnished my reason to trek in the first place,as an individual.

    It was,to update myself as a being and strengthen my weakness as a soul,which no doubt did grow with the yearn growth of elevation I climbed,but it eventually sunk to a deeper pit called ‘ego trap’,true strengthening oneself comes from being humble in the dire situation, not just mere elevation.I remember trekking in Neora valley with a nonchalant attitude as I considered it a trivial grade of trek compared to what I did but eventually I couldn’t complete it only because of my ego and the experience of so called elevation evaporated for nothing,hence it’s not the height of the trek but attitude in the trek that matters and grows one self. Conclusively, if one loves trek,they just trek,anywhere !


  10. I think adding a number brings the sense of competition. I have done 12k, let me do 15k and then 19k, ignoring other factors like terrain, ascend level, long summit days.
    Many start taking mentally that higher the altitude tougher the trek. The tougher the trek the better it is. Which is just a wrong concept to go into our minds.
    Perhaps if indiahikes clearly HIGHLIGHT the difficulty of trek based on the length of trek, long summit hours duration and grade of ascent. We can bring altitude a less important number in trekkers mind.

  11. Swati,

    I have had conversations with so many trekkers about this, I point always was that how beautiful the peaks look and the nature around on a trek is more important and boosting your ego over how ‘high’ you have climbed.

  12. Hi Swati, truly thought provoking….., I guess, I was also initially into this rat race of ‘ altitude sickness’, till once post a minor injury a couple of years back, I picked up a so called easier, lower altitude Kuari pass trek just to gain my confidence back in the mountains……… I enjoyed every bit of it, the views were astounding & of course made some awesome friends……. which led me to realize that it is the mountains and nature that I m in love with, not really the altitude!!!!!!! Yes, it’s good to challenge myself once in awhile, but now I look forward to exploring various regions and terrains…….

  13. Dear Swathi,
    It’s a good point, and both view points about it – that 1. this is a reflection of trekkers wanting to take on tougher challenges, and 2. The enjoyment in a trek has little to do with the actual altitude, have some validity. I came to trekking from technical climbing, did many (too many too list) and lead a few. In many of our climbing / mountaineering students, I saw a combination of both. Look at it this way – it’s NOT Altitud par se, but the perceived tougher challenge and the basic adventurers spirit to test new grounds. Just new scenes don’t give that sense. Too fully understand, one has to know what drives biological evolution and the role of selection.

  14. Human spirit loves bigger and bigger challenges, and we see this in many fields. I have seen good runners endangering their lives by attempting a marathon and then an Ironman….and some others, injuring themselves in the gym by lifting excessive weights. In both cases, your point is observed i.e. they are going for personal records instead of enjoying an activity like running or bodybuilding over many years. Having said that, I would venture to suggest that any categorization of treks as easy/moderate/difficult adds to this desire for higher challenges.

  15. For me its all about the nature. I don’t really bother about the altitude. perhaps that’s why i have have done 5 treks with indiahikes – all of which were in the range of 12-13 thousand ft after being fortunate enough to do kailash-manasarovar parikrama/trek 5 times including the inner kora of kailash-where the highest altitude was a little above 19 thousand ft . For me its the experience of trekking itself,the spirit of trekking and the beauty of nature which matters more than anything else, so i will continue to do treks irrespective of the altitude.

  16. Hi Swathy,
    I appreciate your point that there are many angles to look at the trekking activity and one of them is ‘exploration’. No doubt, you have a point. But I find the issue raised by you is little dampener !! Why there should be anything wrong with the desire to scale greater heights .. just for sake of achieving greater heights !!! . Achieving higher altitudes requires preparing for better fitness, good amount of planning and most important … a mental strength to take on something which could be beyond one’s reach. Such activities impact one’s attitude towards other parts of our lives also. You are ready to take higher challenges in your profession as well. As Shaily Singh has rightly commented… but for want of desire to scale higher heights … nobody would have tried Mr Everest. By the way, I am running 65 and I am planning to enroll for Kanamo this July. Pl wish me luck.

  17. It’s definitely a good point! But for a lot of trekkers like me, when our trek leaders suggest some of the best treks for us, we start to build our imagination and then it slowly turns into a dream to do it no matter what and not to worry about the altitude. But knowing the altitude and preparing for it is an excitement from within. So at the end its all a dream and a curiosity to be with the mountains and thats what counts!

  18. Hi swathi.
    I have been trekking since past few years.
    One has their personal goals set for achieving higher altitudes in every trek they do.
    Each higher altitude trek brings with it myriad views of nature and The Himalayas.
    The higher you go the difficult it gets for you to climb because of the oxygen and difficulty levels. It is the climate that requires a bearing.
    Except from personal goals of reaching higher altitudes, high altitudes give you a amazing view of nature and teaches you how to survive in extreme conditions.
    The lower altitude treks need to be done too.
    Every trek has a different giving.
    You learn from each trek no matter if its high or lower altitude.
    Nature has alot to give each time you visit.
    Higher altitude gives you personal satisfaction of survival in extreme conditions.
    Mountains always act as a teacher and teaches us things which we cant learn anywhere else. It treats everyone and everything equally.

  19. Swati, I absolutely agree with your point of view. I have heard people ask “what is the most difficult trek?” as if it were an open challenge to the mountains!

    For me, treks are meant to be a process of connecting with nature and self-discovery! I have done only a couple of Himalayan treks (sar pass, KGL and Kanamo) and believe that there are a number of other smaller but equally beautiful treks that I would love to go. My decision is exclusively based on which part of India that I wish to travel to!


  20. True. but I think that’s the main criteria in determining next treks. What trekkers look is the level of difficulty and then challenge themselves for a tough one. Is it not in line with spirit of trekking?

  21. Trekking gives me extreme levels of joy and peace. At the same time, I also see it as a challenge and a source of self validation ( On first glance, I’m not what most people can call conventionally fit. Even though I’ve run marathons and completed triathlons, I require this assurance for myself but that is a different topic , which is not appropriate for this forum ) . These are my reasons for trekking and at the same time, different people can have different reasons for choosing a trek. So far, I’ve done Annapurna Base Camp with IH and Goechala with a different company. Now, I’m doing Kedartal next , that too with IH. At all the times, while choosing the trek I considered only one thing and that is, how close will I get to be to the mountains. Goechala brought me as close to Kanchenjunga as it was possible for me. Annapurna Base camp got me face to face with the most lethal 8000meter peak, and at ABC, decades of mountaineering history looks you right in the face. At Kedartal, the mighty Thalaysagar will look down on me and I am extremely excited about it . I really like standing right at the base of a mountain. I love being overshadowed by an impassive and a humongous wall of ice and rock. It makes me feel grounded. Now, to have this feeling, If I have to move to higher altitudes, and as long as I am fit and trained for a trek, what problem can any other trekker ( or any other entity ) have ? The point that I am trying to make is, each person has a different perspective to trekking. While it is reckless to go on a trek without being prepared for it, there is nothing wrong in choosing a trek which is higher in altitude then your previous trek as long as it makes you happy and doesn’t kill you. No offences, just a different perspective to yours. Cheers!

  22. This is definitely a topic for debates. I have known a person who spends most of his time in the mountains exploring solo and is hardly drawn by the altitudes, at the same time I have another one where she aims higher altitudes after every trek. I believe in exploring, at the same time once you had the pleasure of exploring, at some point you get that itch of doing something monumental. So you try to push a little further up. Also the curiosity of being up there and experiencing the feeling of being on top. What about the views it offers from the top of Mt. Kanamo ?

  23. Hi Swathi

    After reading your email, I feel immensely happy that I never saw trekking only about chasing new heights. So far I have done a few treks with Indiahikes and all are in the range of 12000 ft. And true to what you said, each trek had its own characteristics and so were the experience and memories. Also, from all the treks I did till date, my favorite is still Harishchandra Gad which is hardly around 4600 ft above sea level. But yes, that does not mean that I do not want to experience trekking in higher altitude. For me, trekking apart from being a great way to explore new places, is also about challenging your own physical limits and learning from these experiences.

    So I do agree, that this chase for high altitude can be meaningless at times, especially with trekking becoming more and more commercialised.

  24. Swati with all due respect, I disagree with your thought of “glory-hunting”. Although I agree that every trek, regardless of its altitude has different beauty and challenges to offer, but no trekker should be discouraged from achieving their personal altitude goals. This is like recommending to run a half marathon in different cities than encouraging to increase distance. Instead, you can recommend to increase the altitude attempts gradually (in steps of 1k ft maybe).

  25. Hello Swathi,

    Different people get a kick out of different aspects of the same activity. Take trekking for instance .. for some, it’s the height. For some, it’s the thrill of a climb. For some, a chance to experience nature unadulterated (like me). I love to hear the whistle of the wind, the gurgling sound of a river, to watch the ice/snow change colour as the sun rises. And yes, I meet people from very different backgrounds as an add-on bonus. Granted, a true mountaineer would be more interested in the technicality of a climb than it’s height, but it is also important to distinguish between such mountaineers & trekkers (just my opinion).

    If I were you, I wouldn’t get too restless about the obsession with height. It’s a challenge that drives several people as it’s their view of progress. It is what it is & that’s not going to change. IH does a darn good job taking us into the mountains & you have a lot of goodwill from us trekkers, especially with your relentless efforts to “keep the trails clean”, a vital aspect that’s totally overlooked. Take heart in that & fret not about the rest.


  26. Hi
    It would be an understatement to say that I love trekking. In fact, I love anything that has something even remotely close to mountains. I have been on more than a dozen treks in the Himalayas but none yet with Indiahikes. But then that’s me, and my love for the mountains.
    It is an important point you have raised and I agree that many newbies into trekking think it’s “cool” and in thing to do and keep jumping altitudes every successive trek. Of course, there is no denying the fact that every time you scale a height, there is an adrenalin rush and that’s what adventure is all about but I do believe that trekking is more than just that. It is about the landscape, the people and the sheer awe of being in the midst of such beauty..! I walk in reverence of the mountain and every step I take, I ask for my strength from the mountain itself. It is a kind of meditation for me and I try to bring that feeling solitude in my connect with the mountain.
    That’s how I understand trekking. I know many who walk just to scale the heights but I’d like to stop and smell the peonies…!

  27. Very valid point Swathi! PPL feel a sense of great achievement and infact do it as a challenge to prove it to others that they are capable of doing it. It’s saddening to see that the true sense of trekking is being lost somewhere in all of this! And some PPL want to do because their friends etc are doing it or calling them along. And a whole bunch of ppl end up on the trek sometimes with no or very little preparation.

  28. As rightly said every successful trek automatically leads one to plan for a higher altitude trek! The reason is one tends to be more confident! But my experience is that the treks in the dense forests of western ghats are as satisfying as the higher altitude treks! Except for the AMS one will face all the challenges in these treks too and the added challenge is the high temperature which is more exhausting! I have done a desert trek in Rajasthan as much a I enjoyed the Trek to Hampta pass at 14300 ft and also equally enjoyed the kudremukh trek! nature has its own beauty and can create its own obstacles everywhere! A true trekker enjoys the nature wherever it be!

  29. In my view, every trek is different and every mountain will give different experience. It’s not the altitude that defines the trek but our attitude. Respect nature and mountains and have fun trekking. It’s just to know more about ourselves and cross our own barriers whether it is kedarkantha or kumara parvatha or even Everest.
    ….. Enjoy the nature and beauty of the earth..

  30. Hi IH
    Love the way you described ALTITUDE SICKNESS !
    I’m stunningly fascinated with the idea of your way of Trekking !
    Stating with experience, It’s the journey that counts, not the destination alone. I simply love the idea of hiking to the peak that made me madly in love with the awe of trekking. All that matters is not what we look at but the way we see it.
    I can still recall four years from now, 2014, How I trekked To My first ever Trek {Shaali Tibba, Highest Peak In Shimla City } . This unplanned and breathtaking odyssey Changed the way I Looked at Walking INTO THE WILD. Till then there has been no looking back. Surely suffering from ALTITUDE SICKNESS { The Way IH sees it. } Though Trekking to Shaali fascinates me till date. Just trekked there last week, For the third time. The journey is simply remarkable every time. There is lure for climbing higher heights, Though For a die hard trekker, An adrenaline Junkie, True stupor of hiking lies in the deep exploration of the wilderness.
    Every stone is a story teller, When it comes to trekking. Thus for all the adventurers I would just state, Keep exploring the territories, chartered as well as unchartered with an entirely new perspective and splendid exuberance,

  31. My first trek with Indiahikes was Roopkund. Best birthday ever.
    And my next trek is Kedarkantha. I honestly think it’s unfair to compare trekking experiences; you don’t compare potatoes and shoelaces.

    I do know Roopkund was much higher in altitude than Kedarkantha. But I don’t think people who come to experience the mountains give any sh*t about the altitude.

    We’d be näive to even think like that. 😛

  32. Hi Swathi,

    As I get ready for my first long trek on April 07 to KK with IH, I realise that this thought has often crossed my mind. I personally find ‘conquering height’ as bravado and foolish machismo. I call it foolish as there is no end to being competitive, either with others or with oneself. I know I will never be able to climb the Everest. Does that make me any inferior to the mountaneer who has trained all his life for achieving his / her goals? Nor does it make me superior to the guy behind me who could not make it to the top of a hill due to a sprained ankle.

    Trekking for me is exploration of the inner and outer world. Its an ecosystem that we try to explore. I have walked miles in rural bengal in complete darkness in the new moon and crickets ringing in my ear. Was that less beautiful an experience than the mesmerising sunset at the Richengpong monastery in Sikkim after an ardous 2 hour hike?

    Yes, physical endurance is very important, but that is just to enjoy the surroundings that you are in.

    The majestic Himalayas have existed for millions of years and hopefully will be there for many millions. All that we can absorb in humbleness in a lifetime is how the people who abode those lands gruel everyday just to survive and yet never try to conquer the hills.

  33. Hello Swathi,
    I completely agree with what u said in the article. It’s not a healthy habit to chase just the numbers. I strongly feel it’s the experience that matters the most. Trekking is all about exploring and understanding nature. I honestly don’t care about the altitude as long as the whole trek is an enjoyable experience. And as a landscape photographer myself I value picturesque locations much more than high altitude.

  34. I agree with you Swathi. Trekking should be viewed separately from mountaineering. All those going to higher altitude, need to be very careful with preparation, fitness. Medical problems And risks involved. Not sure if many of youngsters understand this. Just walking/jogging 5-10 Kms in plains itself is not adequate preparation for higher altitude treks. Those aspiring for higher altitude should look at mountaineering instead. Trekking should be enjoyed, without putting yourself under undue stress.

  35. Whilst I differ in my views as regards the trek concept of India hikes, but totally agree to the above thoughts. I would think diverse treks have much more than just altitude. Altitude is just a number.

  36. After reading your article I realise that even I was running after going from high to even higher altitudes. Every time we are discussing to go on a different trek but then end up discussing whether it is higher than the previous summit.
    Your article has made me think why am I running after higher altitudes? I have been to two beautiful treks Hampta pass and Kashmir great lakes. I would like to enjoy the experience of trekking and exploring a new place rather than look for higher altitudes. Thanks for writing on this. I realise what mistake I was making.

  37. For me altitude is just not important and not even the hallmark for challenge. Being on a hill, even in the western ghats, is challenging and exhilirating all the same as being on a height of 15,000 feet (which is the highest I’ve gone). In fact, I’ve pretty much gone in reverse with my first trek (a decade ago with family) to Hemkund Sahib and Valley of flowers, and then last year Sandakphu followed by Chainsheel and then Prashar Lake and finally Kedarkantha. In fact, I don’t even look for a summit climb. And I can vouch for the fact that in no way did I feel my progression was going in reverse. I think one can challenge themselves as much as they please even on the easiest trek. And frankly, climbing a mountain is hard work so there really isn’t any easy trek.

    My golden rule for choosing a trek- going to a place that isn’t popular at all, and/or going at a time or through a route that’s not usual. And it’s been quite fulfilling.

  38. Altitude is a personal thing. I’m a trekker at 54 and personally believe that each trek has a different exhilaration. It’s got nothing to do with altitude, difficulty or anything of a competitive nature. Trekking is a non-competitive sporting experience. It’s about appreciating the nature and immersing oneself in it’s abundance. It’s about lot of personal revelation and introspection. So it should never be equated to anything else. I say that I don’t even compete with myself in treks.

  39. Totally agree that the “higher, tougher” attitude, with a focus on completing a trek for show-off points is not a good attitude. On the other hand, someone may wish to go for higher altitude treks with a desire to see places at rarified heights, or experience being so high, especially if they can do just one trek a year because of time/financial/fam reasons. Trek guides are lucky to go on numerous treks, which most people cannot afford to, much as they wish. In the end, Indiahikes personnel can play a role in inculcating the attitude that its not the destination ( or baggng a peak – a horrible attitude in many mountaineering circles), but the journey that counts…

  40. Good point. This point is always on my mind too and feel like going for a a further difficult trek. I see trekking also as some kind of adventure too along with great love for exploring nature. Another point is that to explore as many when you are fit which is more likely at lesser ages. In this process try to complete the tougher ones early.

  41. I look at the challenges in the trek
    More challenges you face you become more strong person.
    All after its about making memories

  42. Low altitude treks are also mostly easy on teh body and mind. They are also more crowded as trekking trails. I like to push myself and hence prefer treks that would mean lot of climbing or tougher trails. These usually translate into high altitude treks – but I never choose a trek based on altitude. I like them tough and if possible, a bit devoid of beginners.

  43. “Nature is the best gym and Nature is the best healer”, thats what i look for when i trek in the himalayas or likewise. Altitude has never been the criteria and it has always been exploring the unknown. I look forward to find our whats on the other side waiting for me, going through trails which are often used by fellow adventurers or people of native origin which gives me a high. But at the same time, what i look for may not be what others want. For some, its scaling high each year and looking down upon of the feat that they’ve achieved which gives them a high. Its breaking out of their comfort zone each year that pushes them further. So, now am looking forward to the next trail where i can meet the next genre of ethnic people, exploring the fresh scent and wilderness of mother nature on a new trail coz thats what keeps me going…

  44. Hi Swathi…the point that you have mentioned does refer to a very promising thought but shunning down the desire to reach higher altitudes isn’t correct entirely..it actually depends on the perspective and also the reason why a person is going on a trek..some do it to get the feel of nature’s divinity while few do it to experience different cultures and meet new people..but there are few who do it to challenge themselves and to test their own extremes..to feel that adrenaline rush to see the world from a altitude wherein everything seems so small..so it differs from person to person and in my opinion” altitude sickness” should not be considered a taboo for the trekking spirited people..

  45. Yes,i totally agree with this statement.because as of now have done 2 treks (Kedarkantha then vof ) and i felt that vof is a little bit difficult than kedarkantha coz in vof we are always ascending with hardly any level walking

  46. I think every trek is unique, enjoyable & full of adventures. There is no issue of altitude. Also agree with your views.

  47. It is simple for me. HOW FAR CAN I PUSH MY BODY? is the main ? I have done a 27km trek in a single day with only water in the lower himalayas. I have done 10,000 steps in one day. It is human nature to explore and understand oneself so the ? remains. I completed Hampta when i turned 50 and plan to do a higher trek when im 60.

  48. Very true..I often hear people bragging about reaching high altitudes..Is it really important?I think what is important is to actually have an idea an experience of every height…And infact trekking is more about knowing and learning..Not competing.

  49. Hi Swathi,

    Whilst it’s a valid point to say trekkers usually choose higher altitude treks by human nature of vague achievements and miss out on varieties nature has to offer, let’s get back to how this thought process developed.

    There are various contributors, to make a trekker consider higher altitude as an achievement. Few of them being:
    a) Popularity of Everest, despite there being several difficult treks, in contrast.. we can’t take away the pride “I’ve climbed the highest mountain on earth”.
    b) Splendid views from high altitude treks being publicised more than the others.. best example of this would be Roopkund lake, (a gem in itself).. but not to compare, there are definitely beautiful lakes like Bhrigu lake or even Parashar lake aren’t too popular.
    c) Without any attempt to point fingers, indiahikes used to promote “numbers” in altitude with their T shirts. I’ve met people who have chosen treks in order to establish their achievement via t shirts. It gives them pride, certainly. I’d say let’s work it out in a different way.. We still need T shirts, btw. 😛 but may not be with altitude.. 🙂
    d) We like challenges and high altitudes give challenges. And we tend to glorify high altitude treks. However, what we miss out, is glorifying lesser altitude treks. I’ve been to fewer than 6 treks in Himalayas and my best trek so far has been Sar Pass..
    It offers a wide variety of nature but as we all know, it’s considered as easy trek and definitely not glorified enough.
    And I always like treks in Maharastra and Karnataka much more than Himalayas.
    We may not be good at glorifying lesser altitude treks, as we take home the pictures with splendid views. We don’t spread the overall experience of doing a beautiful lesser altitude trek to encourage someone else to take it up.

    There may be several other contributors. These are what I could think of. Hope I’m helpful 🙂

  50. There’s two sides to every debate.
    I personally am from the camp of trekkers who look for a challenge over and above anything else. I did Roopkund in the first batch of the summer 4 years ago and loved it due to its difficulty and the challenge it posed. I did Konskila pass in Ladakh in January and loved it due to its difficulty. I did Rupin last May with IH and while it was extremely beautiful, I didn’t enjoy it from an adrenaline rush and a challenge point of view.
    Everyone has different criteria to trek. Some chase beauty, some chase peace in solitude and there are some like me who chase a mix of these as well as a challenge to get the heart racing. Challenge doesn’t need to be about altitude attained but it is a bit to do with difficulty. I’d choose a difficult trek as I’d feel more of a sense of accomplishment and a bigger rush. It’s not glory hunting, it’s just a different perspective to trekking.

  51. Dear Swathi,
    I am completely convinced by you, that your thought are in the very right directions, and it leads good because every single treks has their own beauty , culture , glory, and such more things that we get only when we experience that. The trek is not related to such altitude but much more.

    nows a day the peoples thinking is that the trek has more altitude is more adventurous and more amazing …….i think that is right to some extent but there are such treks with low altitude which are the best and most amazing that we need to understand and it only possible by exploring such things .

  52. I have not gone through all the comments. I think in today’s environment especially in India, perhaps due to its population, there is a sudden hurry in the last couple of years to ‘live your life’ and experience as much as possible in the shortest time possible. While it’s good to have a competitive spirit and to challenge oneself, it may deprive one of the satisfaction of truly enjoying the natural elements of the trek. I am sure several trekkers come from a corporate background which may involve some element of arrogance or indicate a superiority complex thinking that they are above the normal persons intelligence plus can do anything physically demanding. You can see that happening with biking groups, marathon runners.. if its about challenging yourself and appreciating and conservation of nature then it’s a good thing but if it’s just to showcase as personal achievements it treats nature as an obstacle and i am not for that, as that will lead to a rat race to reach the top of mountains at any cost leading to an erosion and perhaps destruction of a fragile ecosphere.

  53. I absolutely agree with this, Coz I am aware it’s not a competition to touch a higher altitude everytime but the experience of living among the nature’s truest form and meeting people in their trueself and not climbing a higher altitude everytime,on the contrary the mountains let us climb them and we should thank them for letting us doing so. ️♥️

  54. Hey Journalist
    For the column of your publication or for the Inner peace of your mind – trek has nothing to do with the altitudes and difficulty level .It’s all in the mind and the spirit – which drive us through the course of journey .

    I have been to treks for and with the beginners – Frenwehim community on instagram – where focus is not about the altitude but the attitude . A person who has never seen snow and high mountain treking so efficiently like amader to see if its their first time . While descending their only concern was – what and where next rather than altitude .

    We humans are so adaptable to circumstances that whatever it takes for that single ray of hope and zeal we can go through. It’s all about that spirit inside to wake up.

    I must say if you start a program to scale mount everest – we have got so much passion and that commitment that one can scale through but yeah factors – hinders that growth .

    I believe and tell everyone about my belief – mountains are not standing there for nothing ; they teaches us to thrive for more and be more dedicated -every mountain/hike/trek demands for that spirit to wake up and keep moving .

    For the mountains and their selfless love – CHEERS !


  55. For me, altitude was never the criteria. Exploring the Himalayas, meeting like minded trekkers and enjoying the trek were the primary objectives.

    As you mentioned, I feel there are few enthusiasts who chase the numbers. Different people have different motives and agendas behind doing a trek. Some may seek the altitude glory while others would live in the shadows of Himalayas.

  56. I also want to raise the thing of mindfulness. When in nature or trekking, please be mindful of the environment, locals, other people trekking etc. It’s not a picnic so please respect the tranquility of the place and its people. Sound pollution of the cities should be left behind please. Scaling a summit or conquering heights is indeed a proud moment of great achievement but we mortals are nothing in front of the achievement of nature. I don’t want to sound like a bore or old fashioned but silence with only the sound of nature is so beautiful. Trekkers need to appreciate that.

  57. Sometimes you beat the altitude sometimes the altitude beats you.
    I have done Everest Base Camp (not with Indiahikes) and StokKangri (almost, reached till 100 m below the peak, with Indiahikes). No altitude sickness at all, in fact i loved the high altitudes. My appetite was great even at the high altitudes and i was always one of the first to reach the heights.. this is when I was 35..
    4 years added to my age, some life changes, and the word High BP crept into my vocab. When the trek leaders at the Kedarkantha trek checked my BP at the base camp it was a whopping 160/100.. of course they packed me back, and me and couple of friends spent the next two days walking the relatively flat trail of Har ki dun. At Dehra Dun my BP was fine. So for now altitude has won.

  58. yes it is very true, in recent time most of the treker run for glory and take the trek as a medel of their challenges. Treking is not only a challenge it also a great chance to explore the untouched beauty of the nature.

  59. Hi I think for any trekker its not how high you climb , but to only enjoy your surroundings and beautiful views around you. Taking in the stunning scenery and sunrises and sunsets, that is most enjoyable and expierances – of the clean air , tranquillity and spending time here these points

  60. Hi Swathy,
    In my opinion, one can not be too rigid to define the trek parameters that would enthrall everyone. Every trekker has different perspective and wants to experience it differently. To me its the mountains that mesmerize me. Someone else may be looking for the cultural or nature aspects. Yet other may be looking for just taking a break from the din and clamour of cities and be in the nature and grow the horizon.
    I am 62 now, have been trekking as solo and sometimes with small groups. For now I have a different priority, nevertheless, shall recommence my treks after Jun 18.