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Confused and Bewildered

by ResidentZeroMSL Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 2:37 AM

Hello. I live in Kolkata with my father and mother. They are 56 and 46 year old respectively. I am 16. Leh has always engrossed me and I desire to visit Leh and Ladakh after my examinations in June. I am a photography and astronomy enthusiast and Leh is just the perfect place to do both! I've heard that one can get to see the Milky Way (Oh My God!) during the power-cuts (which are frequent, as I've heard) from the roof of a hotel. Then there are the numerous other beautiful places like the Pangong Lake, Nubra valley etc. However, there is this thing which is troubling me-Acute Mountain Sickness. My parents aren't young anymore and my mother as well as I has breathing difficulties. Will it be alright if we visit Leh? Because, truly, since 3 Idiots, there is no other thing in mind except the blue of Pangong Tso. And the thought that I'll get to see the milky way, adds to it. Please help me, sirs and madams. You can make my dream come true.

Thank You,
Anusha.

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8 Answers
  • Miguelzgz's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by Miguelzgz Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 2:55 AM

    What is the question? "Will it be alright if we visit Leh?" I guess it is alright.

    By the way...I donĀ“t know in India...but I consider beign 46 as young! ;-)

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  • MacedonianUK's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by MacedonianUK Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    first,Welcome to VT..
    Now question is how you are arriving to Leh and Ladakh?
    As You are coming from Kolkatta I will fly to Aritcar. From there you use buses to get to your destination.
    Do you have made any plans internary , how many days are staying?
    If you have few days to kill I recommend gradually getting to Leh,you might consider visiting McLeod Ganj first, for high altitude so your body can aclimatise to the highs. Thats in mind choose another stop or two before you hit Leh and Ladakh.
    Your parents are not that old,but I guess from teenager point of view we are ancient ;)
    As for breathing problems, well I was visiting with my son who developed severe sinus congestion, but with medication is more than OK. Ok Leh is quite high altitude and the air is thinner up there bit the whole point of gradually taking the highs will pay twofold will easy acute Mountain Sickness/Vertigo and help with your body adjusting to thinner air.
    As long as you and your parents make preparation and are sensible of what you can do and dont, take it easy I dont see why you shouldn't go and fulfill your dream of gazing at the Milky Way.
    Good luck and safe travels

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  • Rachel972's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by Rachel972 Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 3:31 AM

    Hi Anusha, your parents are the age of my children. So in the past I was used to see the milky way at sea level, now we have power cuts only in bad weather when it's cloudy, and I miss seeing it.

    Search the internet for Leh and Altitude sickness, I tried this link, but there are many.

    tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g2...

    Of course I don't know anything about your breathing problems. The altitude could be quite a problem since you live at sea level, and it's very individual, it can happen to perfectly healthy, young and strong people.

    My son and grandson were in Nepal, and the boy got it, they had to go down immediately, and then went up again slowly.

    If you have enough time, think of taking a few days each at some place with the altitude of 1500 and 2500 meters. But then you can't fly directly.

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  • melosh's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by melosh Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 8:34 AM

    Your concern must be the "breathing difficulties" of you and your mother.

    Age is not really relevant. The frequency of acute mountain sickness is low especially if the ascent is gradual. So a sudden jump up as happens with an air flight is to be cautioned against. There are other things that you can do to decrease the chances of an acute mountain sickness attack including consideration of Diamox as a protective medication. Although it is not enough to search the internet and VT for information, educating yourself and your parents is an important first step.

    But the main issue you must address is the nature of your breathing problems. (Cardiac and pulmonary conditions do not increase the frequency of attacks, but do increase the danger of an attack.) This requires a medical assessment with focus on your ability to get oxygen from the air into your system. If you or your mother suffer from an inability to get oxygen from the air, the decrease in oxygen in high altitude air might be a problem whether you have an acute attack of mountain sickness or not. If the problem in both your cases is one of asthma (an airway problem), you might even find cleaner mountain air better than the lowland air you are used to.
    See a good physician before you travel.

    Good luck, bob

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  • anilpradhanshillong's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by anilpradhanshillong Online Now Jan 25, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    56 and 46 are not 'old' ages. That's the start of life! I'm 61 yrs old and my wife and I did Leh in Sept. 2010!!!

    Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a deadly condition. You circumvent or deal with it by 'acclimatising' yourself for it as you receive only 40% of the oxygen/air at Ladakh/Leh. 46 hours is the standard time during which you do absolutely nothing except eat and sleep and drink water and let your lungs and body get used to the new surroundings. Even taking a bath leaves you panting for breath!!

    Consult you Doctor FIRST BEFORE you plan anything as both your Mother and you have breathing problems. If you give your Parents and yourself PLENTY of time to acclimatise yourselves, you just might enjoy Ladakh/Leh!!

    Plenty of other advice here on VT on Ladakh/Leh.

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  • Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by polzi_2013 Online Now Jan 28, 2013 at 1:37 PM

    Hey Anusha,
    I am a little surprised to see your courage.
    I am going to ladakh this august and it seems as of now that I'll go alone as the people I had planned this trip with have ditched.You are more than welcome to join me but you should be aware of certain things first before AMS.
    1.You are still a Minor and travelling alone at your age in India can be a little problematic as far as getting hotel reservations are concerned.
    2.You need to be a bit extra cautious if you are really serious about this,being a girl(I hate to say this but its undoubtedly something that should be kept in concern)
    3.If I were you,I would have went with some tour operator..there are plenty of them based in Delhi.You might find some even in Kolkata
    4.AMS should not be a great concern if you are not rushing too much in time. Acclimatization is most important.There are medication which can help to a great extent.

    Cheers..

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  • Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by vistet Online Now Feb 2, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Breathing problem : obviously you need to sort this out with your doc. If it's astma we are tolkning about you'll probably be pleasantly surprised : most asthmatics good or even better at high altitude. There where asthmatics working in constructing the railway to Lhasa , going up to 5000+ meters , and it wasn't AMS that stoped Che Guevara in Bolivia.

    If you have low oxygen saturation normally at sea level you probably won't be able to sell the idea of going to 3000+ meters to your doc. You'll still be stunned by the night sky at lower elevation , without light pollution. One good option would be going to Shimla , and then spend a few nights in Kalpa at 2800 meters. Also very nice views of the Kinner Kailash.


    Age factor : your parents actually have better chances of coping with the altitude shift than yourself . This is on the average , in no way a certain prediction .

    Acclimatization and transport risk :

    Normally there is zero acclimatization taking place below 1500 meters , and very slow at 2000 meters. Highest risk with the Manali-Leh road ( http://korta.nu/sleepless ) , lower with a flyin ( going immediately down to Alchi orUle Tokpo will make a positive difference ) , lowest going from from Srinagar ( http://korta.nu/chilling ) . I would expect your doc to recommend medicating with Diamox in the first two options , this is the norm for people without breathing problems.

    "..you receive only 40% of the oxygen/air at Ladakh/Leh.."

    This is incorrect as far as Leh ( 3520 meters ) goes : it's correct for 4300 meters . Expect your doc to be more sceptic to going to 4000+ and staying overnight than for Leh , both from the additional risk and the absence of medical backup. Plan at least two nights of acclimatization at Leh's altitude before going higher.

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  • aadil's Profile Photo

    Re: Confused and Bewildered

    by aadil Online Now Apr 23, 2013 at 12:04 PM

    Hi Anusha,

    I am a photography and astronomy enthusiast and try to travel a lot too!!! So I know what you wish to see there and having been there I know it sure will make your dream come true even without a power cut in many of the smaller places like Pangong Tso (if you stay the night there) or Hunder in Nubra Valley!!! Age is not a factor as I have seen people much older than your parents and much younger than you too without any serious problems in Ladakh as long as you take the necessary precautions and advice given by your personal doctors and carry and take all your regular medicines on time. Try to drink a lot of water (keep yourself from getting dehydrated at all times) as you are in a high altitude desert after all and get acclimatised well before you set out to the higher places on the journeys around Ladakh to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Try to keep at least one day as soon as you fly in for acclimatisation and you should be fine the next day onwards. Also visit places with a lower altitude the second day and start on the higher journeys only after a couple of days. Most travel agents will provide for an oxygen cylinder in your vehicle or convoy of vehicles depending on where you book your trips and journeys just in case of an emergency so you need not worry too much about that and there is a hospital in Leh run by the Indian Army which has two special AMS chambers for such patients. This is not to scare you but to ensure you take the trip without getting scared of the ill effects of AMS which can and may affect even the most fittest of people and may not affect others not so fit!!! Having been to Ladakh and Tibet (same conditions there too on the other side of the Himalayas!!!) without having any problems associated with AMS I remember a mountaineer who had just come back from a trek to Kilimanjaro mountain in Africa and he was the worst hit by AMS during our Tibet trip!!! So don't think too much about it and just go for it (only after taking your doctor's permission and take all necessary precautions).

    Hope this helps.
    Cheers,
    Aadil.

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