Climb High, Sleep Low
“Climb High, Sleep Low” is an adage of mountaineers and high altitude adventurers. So far we’re not doing a good job of adhering to this principle. The idea is to sleep at a lower elevation than you travel throughout the day. This is best for altitude acclimatization as the body has time to adjust to the reduced oxygen level and produce additional red blood cells. And high altitude can cause sleep disturbance so you’re likely to catch more zzz’s at lower elevations.
Our problem is that for the past two days we start heading up a mountain pass in the early afternoon and it ends up taking us to sunset to finish. We don’t enjoy waking up knowing we have to tackle a massive climb first thing so we try to get up and over the pass by the end of the day. Today and yesterday we managed to get to the top of the pass but didn’t have enough sunlight remaining to descend. So we got stuck camping near the top.
We seem to do ok sleeping at the higher elevations. If there’s one thing all this exercise is good for, it’s sleeping. There’s no insomnia in bike touring. The downsides to sleeping at the top of the mountain are it’s cold and wet up here. We don’t have a thermometer, but we can see our breath, so we’re guessing it’s at most 45 degrees. We’re high enough to be in the clouds so there is a constant drizzle as they pass over the mountain. Luckily we have the new tent so we are staying warm and dry while sleeping, but it’s no fun to pack up a wet tent.
We’ll need to find a better rhythm to these mountain passes. We plan on sticking to the mountains until southern Peru so we’ll have plenty of time to work this out.