Myths are are explanations of our world, based on experience. Today´s myths play out on the net , and woe unto the ones that question not the experience , but the explanation.
So , before trusting the experience , some quick reality checks when you hear someone cheering people merrily on to a quick jaunt up to a high camp , close to heaven :
1. Been where ?
You will be surprised at how many actually can´t describe where they´ve been – vertically. Discussing itineraries , especially the first inroads, is all about ascent rates : if the advice comes without a clear description of sleeping altitudes firstly , and max altitudes secondly it´s just not workable info.
Been where ? also includes another question : coming from .. ? – again , vertically . If that information is missing , get a good map , or go to Google Earth. Place limited trust in web searches : there is a lot just plain wrong intel out there : like the persistent myths of the worlds highest road , for instance.
2. Done it , really ?
Suggested itineraries often represent ..plans and dreams , not experience. The thing you´d want to do next time. Listen carefully , and you´ll hear that telling , far away voice talking about unfulfilled goals . Which is a form of poetry , well worth listening to. Make it another reason to go – but don´t exchange the map , with the elevation curves, for the poetry when you actually set out.
3. Done what ?
Going thru , and staying at , are two radically different things. There are vast numbers of travellers convinced that they -and you- can handle the altitude of x meters after having traversed a high pass. What can be learned from this is if you were able to handle that ascent profile : a long high plateau below a pass can , often will, hit harder than the high point of the journey.
Ever more important , sleeping poses a bigger challenge than staying awake , and upright.
4.Did it when ?
People will often react differently to rapid ascents , which feeds a perception that it´s a random process . If you look to the time before setting out , a lot of this randomness evaporates, and becomes consistent with the time spent acclimatising before setting out. The one time it started to go horribly wrong the difference between me and the unconscious fellow traveller next to me was the time spent at moderately high altitude before, a pattern that repeated itself in the rest of the group.
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