Is it possible to climb Everest in three weeks or Manaslu in a fortnight under acceptable margins of safety? The short answer is yes, it is, as long as climbers find the right way to pre-acclimatize while at home. The use of hypoxic tents and masks is granting some impressive results. But – here comes the “but” – DIY solutions and standard programs may or may not work and, in the latter case, you will only find out when it’s too late and the air is too thin.
Training in conditions of hypoxia is not new for elite athletes. The method has been used for decades, mainly aiming to enhance performance by increasing the hematocrit levels (number of red blood-cells), which results on a more efficient transportation of oxygen though the human body’s tissues and a better ventilatory response. The same process occurs naturally when the human body is forced to perform at higher altitude.
However, such gain in height must be done progressively and carefully, so that blood gets “thicker” without triggering the formation of blood clots, or developing Pulmonary/cerebral edema (liquid swamping the lungs/brain), the most usual symptoms of the so-called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). If the process unfolds properly, the subject will “acclimatize” to thinner air conditions. On the contrary, AMS is a life-threatening condition which requires immediate action.
Acclimatization requires patience and time
Acclimatization differs from one person to another and from case to case. Since there is no magic formula, the process