Category Archives: Training

“Success is the point where preparation meets opportunity” – Everest Expedition from Tibet side 2013 – Presentation

Are you planning to climb big mountains? Is Sagamartha your ultimate goal? Do you watch all those climbing movies, read all the Everest books, and you want to ask questions and learn more?

Join Javi Clayton and Sports in Life in this presentation of a five years journey preparing to reach The Top of the World.

Preparing to climb big eight-thousanders requires experience and commitment and is a life experience that change us adventures and mountaineers for the rest of our lives. On this presentation hosted by Sports in Life in their showroom in Dubai, we are going to discuss the concepts of Success, Preparation and Opportunity. Talking about how to set clear and realistic goals, walking around the problems while taking the right decisions

Is the Everest North Route suitable for the Rookies? We are going to have an open session to discuss the differences between the two most popular climbing routes in Everest, looking at facts and figures, and trying to get an insight on a total different experience climbing from two different sides of a mountain range separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau.

We want to make the session educative and having all attendees to learn and share their knowledge. Building a community of mountaineers in Dubai is still a challenge, and we hope to host a large group of Mountain Junkies in UAE, and start to working together on bringing awareness on this “sport”, inspiring the local community and youth to reach the most beautiful and extreme places in our Mother Earth.

Everest climber Javi Clayton will walk the audience through the following topics

  • Expedition logistics
  • Training in Dubai (by International Sport Expertise)
  • You are what you eat
  • Training mind and body (by Angelica Wellness Coach)
  • Gearing up for Everest
  • Technology over 7000m
  • The high altitude aid kit
  • Processing, disinfecting and transporting water
  • The challenge of exercising and staying hydrated under extreme weather and high altitude conditions
  • New challenges… Greenland WindSled project 2014


For more details visit my FB page


Presentation cover

Men’s Fitness interview on July’s issue–The Climber




Men's Fitness July 2013 P60-61


Gaining popularity around the world, climbing has expanded thanks to the increasing availability of facilities such as indoor climbing walls. This month, MF speaks with Javier Dominguez who tells us his experience of climbing the world’s tallest mountain, equivalent to 10.7 Burj Khalifas in temperatures as little as -60 Celsius, with winds of up to 200mph.


Having almost completed one of the most daunting of human challenges, how does one start preparing for such a feat?

To be precise I have not completed the feat of Everest just yet… my regulator oxygen bottle and mask broke when I was progressing through what we call the 2nd Step, at 8550m.

To prepare for this physical and mental challenge I trained for couple of years in Dubai while climbing peaks in Iran, Kyrgyzstan, and USA ranging from 4000 to 7000m. My favorite playground is Iran where I did a speed winter climb of Mt Damavand (5610m) on the hardest route (North East) from my doorstep in Dubai to the summit in 32 hours, one of the most exhilarating climbing challenges of my life. I regularly climb or hike smaller peaks in Oman, UAE and Spain, and I’m a very active rock climber. I train on climbing walls to improve my technical skillset, such as self-recovery techniques for emergency situations like falling in crevasses.

The main focus areas of my training plan in Dubai are stamina, core strength, lower body stabilisation and mental toughness. The aim is to be able to cope with long periods of time climbing in harsh conditions and carrying heavy backpacks, as well as preventing injuries in legs and shoulders. My friend and ultra-endurance athlete Ismael Blanco helped me develop a very intensive training program for the 14 weeks prior to my Everest expedition. The program focused on stamina: climbing stairs in DMCC Almas Tower in JLT for sessions lasting up to 4 and a half hours carrying a 15kg backpack. In a single session I can climb up and down 980 floors, around 21,800 steps, making a non-cumulative gradient of 3700m and 1850m elevation gain in just one evening. That is 600m more than the longest distance covered in Everest on the North side in a single stage. During the course of 16 sessions in the staircase I ascended 7,172 floors, 160,268 steps, 27,246m vertical distance, and 13,623m of elevation gain. That is three times the distance we covered in the whole expedition, were we climbed from Base Camp at an elevation of 5200m.

Another essential part of my training for Everest was mental toughness. The extreme conditions at Everest plus the isolation for two months while contemplating dead bodies all the way from Camp 3 to the summit, makes this climb more a mental challenge than physical. Before the expedition I had the opportunity to work with the wellness coach Angelica Horvatic on different techniques, such as meditation and visualisation.

During all my climbs, and especially in Iran throughout the last two winters, and those in the extreme heat of UAE and Oman deserts, I thoroughly selected and tested all my equipment as well as food supplements. I’ve found the latter a key success factor on both training and the actual expedition. Nicolas Girot Managing Director of Sport in Life, distributor in UAE of some of the best products for endurance athletes in the market, is very passionate about sport challenges, and he kindly offered me his sponsorship with a full range of items such as Gu Energy nutrition products to support me throughout my climb. During the course of my training program I found GU Roctane Ultra Endurance products to be the perfect energy source for endurance activities where I need undertake long (4+ hours) or intense (above lactate threshold) efforts. I took both Gu Roctane gel and brew with me up to 8850m, and that was definitely a success factor to get that far and coming down fast and strong.


What were the biggest challenges you had to overcome while on the mountain?

The use of the oxygen system was definitely the most difficult aspect . When I first used it at an approximate elevation of 7,700m right before Camp 2 in the North route of Everest, I promised myself this will be the first and last mountain I climb with use of supplemental oxygen. The oxygen mask restricts your vision and you can barely see your feet on technical terrain, it gets full of moisture that eventually freezes and you end up troubleshooting issues with it more than enjoying the climb for which you have so long prepared for …

Carrying a 10kg backpack all the way from Base Camp to Camp 3 was very hard considering the extreme altitude, where everything feels 10 times heavier. In this expedition my partners and I were climbing independently, meaning that we had to carry all personal gear and food, and only the group gear and O2 bottles where taken higher up to the different camps by our Sherpas.

The lack of appetite and high calorie consumption was a big challenge. During my training in Dubai I managed to get my rest pulse down to 48bmp. While sleeping at basecamp it was close to double. At extreme altitude, even if you don’t move from your sleeping bag the whole day you burn more calories than in a marathon. I managed to cope well with that thanks to the range of Gu Roctane products.


A statistic found in the Independent stated that one in ten successful climbs to the summit ends in death. Did you have any reservations about entering this challenge given the inherent risks?

Part of my mental training was focused on this. Climbing south side is relatively safe, but those scary figures come mainly from recent years of increased fatalities in the North side, where I did my climb. The first expeditions to Everest took place on the North side during the twenties, when the access through Tibet was more feasible than the current normal route via the South Col in Nepal. I’d never choose to climb Everest from the South, as it is very crowded. This season there were around 500 climbers attempting to reach the summit from the South side, while in the North we were less than 90 climbers. Climbing the North side is considerably more risky, since the weather conditions are more extreme, the terrain from Camp 3 is more technical, and the distances to cover throughout the whole climb are greater. From the Tibet side there are no rescue services available whatsoever, and therefore the number of frozen bodies that remain untouched in the mountain is unbelievable.


Were there any surprises on the ascent that your training hadn’t prepared you for?

I was approaching the ladder on the Second Step at 8,550m, and crossing a very narrow traverse with my regulator leaning from my backpack. The system got messed up in contact with the icy rock wall, and all oxygen started to escape from the rubber tube connecting the mask. I was breathing an oxygen flow of 2.5L per minute from the bottle, and suddenly it dropped to zero. As I result I had to abandon with my mental and physical capabilities substantially reduced, putting myself under extreme danger. I was 300m away from the summit and I had minor frostbite in three fingers. Training to cope with such extreme situation is not easy. Training to climb with no supplemental oxygen can be done, but it requires years of preparation and ultimately a cavalier appreciation of your limbs.


What advice would you offer to anyone who is considering following in your footsteps?

“Success is the point where preparation meets opportunity”. Train for stamina and mental toughness. Research for the best gear and climbing equipment and learn how to use it efficiently. Learn from other’s mistakes, such us placing the O2 bottle in your backpack improperly. And be extremely patient on this challenge where all stars need to be aligned for success.


Having almost conquered this mountain, what is next on your list of challenges?

I’m preparing for a Polar expedition with my friend and idol Ramon Larramendi, the best explorer in the modern history of my mother country, Spain.

I’m also working to improve my piloting skills and paraglide this winter from the top of the mountain in Madrid that was my training ground many years ago: “La Maliciosa”. The idea is to do a speed winter climb, running with my mountain glider and taking off from the top to land on the North Slope.

Training Plan – Weeks 1 to 5

Following up with my previous post, and to please all those who asked me specific details about my training plan, today I’m sharing the training schedule I built with the help of my friend Ismael Blanco six weeks back. Ismael is a certified Master Trainer on Functional Training, and he holds many years of experience working as personal trainer in Dubai and Spain.

The plan is divided in stages of 5 weeks with the last one being a regenerative week. Total length is 14 weeks starting from Dec 30th. Today I’m in the final section of the first stage, in what we called regenerative week, with active recovery and some laziness and chocolate whims 😛

This table contains the schedule for this first stage. I’ll share more info on the schedule for the upcoming weeks as I finalize details on the second stage and get ready to kick it off this Sunday Feb 3rd




These are very simple and effective rules I strictly followed during the last five weeks.


Squeezed lemon + Protein + Fruit + Oats + Laban

During the day:

Pasta/rice/potatoes + Meat/fish + Vegs + Fruit (4-5 fresh/dried) + Healthy fats (nuts/olives/avocado/olive oil) + yogurt/cheese/eggs

Before Training:

Fuel (Gu Gel) + Prehydrate

During Training:

Refuel (Gu Roctane Gel & Brew) + Rehydrate (Gu Roctane Gel & Gu Electrolyte Brew)

After training:

Rehydrate (Gu Electrolyte Brew& Gu Recovery Brew)


Carbohidrate + Aminoacids + Protein (Gu Recovery Brew + dinner + glutamine)

Good Sleep (8+h)



You are what you eat!

As for the diet, I have decided to stick to the classic food pyramid that we used to study in the old school days, and I have printed it out and taped it in my fridge


Eat a little of everything

Breakfast should provide at least 20-25% of the day’s energy intake, lunch 35-40%, dinner 25-30% and the snacks about 10 to 15%.

Eat foods from the 7 groups every day :

  • Meat and poultry, fish products, eggs
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Bread, cereals, potatoes and dried vegetables
  • Milk and dairy products
  • Additional fatty substances
  • Sweet foods
  • Drinks

Cereal products, potatoes and dried vegetables should be taken as main source of carbohydrates, and make up more than half of the daily energy intake.

Eat at least 4 or 5 fruits and vegetables per day to benefit from their nutritional qualities: vitamins A, B group and C, potassium, water and fiber content

Every day include at least two foods from the “meat, fish, eggs” group in your menu for the protein and iron content.

A simple way to organize my dinner, which becomes a very important meal since I have it at night right after training and stretching, is to prepare the menu always incorporating the following products

  • Dairy / eggs
  • Fish / legume
  • Olive oil / olives
  • Fruit (fresh / dried)

I try to avoid meat at night, and I have fish only I haven’t during the day. Legumes are high GI foods, those that release glucose more slowly and steadily and thus more efficient for energy recovery after exercise, and they are among the best protein sources in the plant kingdom.

This is a short list with foods I normally include in my diet:
Pasta, Iranian rice, baked/boiled potatoes, chicken/lamb/veal/fish skewers, mixed salads with olive oil, beans salad, red lentils stews, garden peas, edamane, chickpeas, hummus, tomato salad with fresh mozzarela, smoked/cured ham, turkey, cured cheese, organic eggs, smoked salmon, sardines in olive oil, smoked herring, smoked oysters, mussels, avocado, olives, pickles, laban/yogurt, rye/fitness bread, oat cookies and crackers, oat bran, flaxseed, fresh/dried fruit, dates, raisings, squeezed lemon with warm water, soya milk with dates juice, tomato juice, soda water, red wine, beer


Increasing protein consumption to gain muscular mass must in any case last a maximum of 6 months and must not exceed 3 g of protein/kg/day to avoid liver and kidney problems. This is something very important to consider when incorporating dietary supplements in the diet such us whey protein. Some studies have suggested that whey protein may possess anti-inflammatory or anti-cancer properties, and that’s why I prefer its consumption vs soy protein. Soy protein contains phytoestrogens, which bind to estrogen receptors in the body, I don’s see myself tomorrow having a nice pair of boobies Smile with tongue out


Key points for a good recovery

Glucose and high GI carbohydrates (those that quickly raise blood sugar levels) , combined with proteins if possible, to resynthesize muscle and liver glycogen reserves.

Proteins to ensure repair of muscular micro-lesions arising during exercise.

Electrolytes to compensate for losses through perspiration and to avoid cramps.

Vitamins to restore losses caused through exercise.


Before the most intensive training sessions

Diet must be rich in medium GI carbohydrates. Eat as loads of pasta and rice, combined with food from the other groups of food (Meat/fish + Vegs + Fruit (4-5 fresh/dried) + Healthy fats (nuts/olives/avocado/olive oil) + yogurt/cheese/eggs).

The last meal 2 hours before training must be low in lipids and dietary fiber, to facilitate the digestion and prevent gastric annoyances from appearing during the training session, and rich in carbohydrates with medium to high GI foods.

Intake while waiting (2 h to 30 min before the event) consists of drinking water every 30 minutes, maybe accompanied by biscuits, cereal bars, a yogurt and/or a very ripe fruit.

30 to 15 minutes before the start of the training session, I have 250ml of Gu Electrolyte Brew and one Gu Energy Gel.

During the most intensive training sessions

For the last few weeks I’ve incorporated the amazing set of Gu Performance products as an supplement before, during and after the training. During the 3h endurance training I have 700ml Roctane Ultra Endurance brew (Lemon Lime) plus one Roctane Ultra Endurance Energy Gel (Blueberry Pomegranate) in the middle of the session. 700ml is not enough for 3h of extremely intensive training, sweating like hell in the staircase, so I have an additional 500ml bottle with one Electrolyte Brew Tablet (Lemon Lime) to drink in between sets during the 1min rest time, and on my back back home I have some extra. Right after I get home and finish my shower, I have 500ml GU Recovery Brew (Strawberry Watermelon) while I’m doing 1h stretching and foam roller session. All flavors I tested so far are delicious, with the exception of the Electrolyte Brew Tablet that I put in a North Face bottle, which tastes like plastic, but its fine in aluminum bottles, not my favorite though. Orange is simply delicious and my friends love it when we go hiking. The Blueberry Pomegranate Roctane Gel is kind of weird, but not bad at all, while the other flavors are all very natural. First time I had a Peanut Butter Gu Enery Gel 15 minutes before training, I thought the taste is so good that I wanted to have few more. I love having a big range of flavors since otherwise I´d get tired of using these supplements during my Everest expedition.

All these products really work well for me, and what it’s super important up there, they taste good and do not upset my stomach. Energy gels and other supplements have to be tasty and caloric, but we have to be cautious with certain aliments that require big amounts of water to be digested, or those responsible to food allergies and gastric disorders. When the effects of high altitude are kicking, one of the last things you want to do is eating. Here is when the natural taste and high caloric intake of products like Gu Roctane become so useful. I perfectly remember when I was doing a speed winter climb of Mt Damavand in Iran, and I jumped out from my house in Dubai, very close to the beach, to the summit of that gigantic volcano ((5610m) in 32h. The lack of sleep and moving so fast to that altitude, completely shut down our digestive system. I had Isostar gels and dried strawberries and we did our way down safely because of that delicious frosty fruit. The extremely sweet taste of the gel did NOT help fighting the lack of appetite
Gu Pure Performance Energy products are distributed in UAE by Sport In Life, distributors of Polar Heart Rate Monitors, 2XU Performance Gear, Zefal, Nathan Sports, and Aqualyte. They have a nice online shop and Facebook page to keep us updated with events and their passion for sport. Today I’m very happy to say I’m proudly sponsored by Sport in Life, and we are working together to find the best combination of performance products that help me achieving my training goals and reaching the summit of Mt Everest.


Sport in Life



I’m climbing Mt Everest (8848m) from Tibet Side for Cancer Research UK because defeating cancer is yet a higher mountain to climb

I'm climbing Mt Everest (8848m) from Tibet Side for Cancer Research UK because defeating cancer is yet a higher mountain to climb

How to set your goals so you actually achieve them? – by Angelica Horvatic

So – you want to summit the Everest? Everest Base Camp? Kilimanjaro? A mountain close to you? No?

You want to complete an Ironman? A Marathon? 5k charity run? No?

You want to get more time for yourself? You want to get fit and healthy again? Do I hear – a Maybe?

Setting and achieving a goal feels amazing, would you agree? So what’s the reason so many people don’t even bother setting their goals, while others don’t achieve the goal they set?

There are so many reasons… Not having time, money, being too old, being too young, not being young enough, not being old enough, not being fit enough, not being strong enough, list goes on and on…

AND – so sorry – I must break your world of limiting decisions – those are simply, just your – EXCUSES!

Yes I did – I have just call you lazy and I called your “reasons” – excuses and limiting decisions!

What are you going to do about it?

Well – the best you can do is to start setting yourself goals and start achieving them!

It feels AWESOME – and also – you can prove me wrong!

How to set a goal?

  1. Be very specific what is that you want to do, have or be. Goal needs to be set so simple that even 3 years old kid can understand it!
  2. Put a measure on your goal so you know when you are close to achieve it AND you can celebrate when you actually ACHIEVE it
  3. Set a goal that is meaningful to you. It must be something YOU really want to have, do or be – something you are totally nuts about!
  4. Your goal must be achievable and realistic ( becoming taller still – ISN’T – one of them! )
  5.  Your set goal should be ecological and have positive impact on all areas of your life ( some call it KARMA! )
  6. By just even setting your goal you should be able to “act as if now” – you should practice visualizing yourself achieving it – walk and talk like you are already there!    Why? That will actually help you break all those fears, doubts and limiting beliefs and it feels – AMAZING!
  7. Take 110 % responsibility for your goal! One of the main differences between achievers and non-achievers are actually in taking ownership of the set goal.
  8. Set a deadline to achieve it – put exact date, even the time of reaching your goal and place that date on your fridge, office desk, in your diary etc. – so it keeps you on track!
  9. Set towards ( positive ) goals – in another words – write, think, speak about what you want and NOT what you don’t want!
  10.  Plan a celebration of your reached goal – no matter how small or big your goals are, do reflect on the time it took you to achieve it and feel proud about yourself!

Conquer your mountain!



Training mind and body

Training my mind and body is becoming an amazing and addictive adventure as I approach the date when I’ll be flying off to Kathmandu and Tibet on April 4th 2013. These days I’m very focused on the physical part of the training and I have achieved incredible personal marks, getting stronger by the minute and smarter on the way I train. During this fantastic journey I’m looking for new ways to build up stamina and mental toughness, reading quite a lot about the subject and trying different things by myself. Very recently I crossed paths up in the highest mountain in Oman, Jebel Shams, with a coaching specialist and endurance athlete, and I’m very happy to say she is determined to help me diving into fears and looking for strengths as we develop a strategy to feel not only physically strong but also ready to conquer the Top of The World.

“Angelica Horvatic is a passionate Wellness Coach with over 3 years experience in London and 8 years in Dubai.

She has been recognized in Dubai as the leading Wellness Coach for lasting lifestyle change, interviewed regularly for Time Out Dubai, 7 Days, The National, Gulf News, Lancaster Times Magazine, Fitness First Newsletters,

After four years of Law University she decided Fitness and Health would be her true career direction. It was a long and daunting process as she first needed to lose about 20kgs and dramatically change her own approach to food and the exercise to be actually able to help others.

At the same time as helping others achieving their goals, she has pushed her own limits – from total non-sporty kid who struggled with the simplest exercise tasks in the school, overweight 20 yrs old with very poor posture, back and other aches – she is today more than successfully running the marathons, competing in numerous adventure races and world championships, winning the fitness competitions.

Using her experience, Wellness Coaching, Neuro-linguistic Programming and Hypnotherapy she helps people break their bad routines, remove their limiting beliefs and negative thinking patterns and encourage them, instead, to move forward and develop new, successful and positive habits towards their wellness goals.

Angelica currently lives and works as a Wellness Coach and Personal Trainer in Dubai”



Training in the Almas Tower – DMCC

Mount Everest is the Earth’s highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 meters above sea level and the 5th tallest mountain measured from the center of the Earth. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas and it was first ascended by Tenzing Norgay, Edmund Hillary on May 29, 1953. Exactly 60 years after that I’ll be standing up on the highest point on Earth. It all depends mainly on weather, but I’m hoping to make my dream come true at some point between May 25th, my 35 birthday, and May 29th the most significant date in the history of mountaineering as we know it these days.

In order to prepare for this challenge I have climbed many other mountains, not too high in most cases, but with passion, determination and the right training I’m sure I’ll be able to cope with the extreme altitude and severe weather conditions. Training in Dubai to climb Mt Everest might seem foolish, but I’m absolutely convinced this place is not only a gateway for many expats looking to make their dreams come true from the “financial” point of view, but also for some of us who get inspired by those who managed to transform a small city located southeast of the Persian Gulf, into the cosmopolitan metropolis that has grown steadily to become a business and cultural hub of the Middle East and the Persian Gulf region nowadays. The idea of “nothing is impossible”, who is bringing Dubai to the focal point of citizens around the world, is what it drives people like me to attempt our Everest Dream, standing on the highest point on Earth and coming back safe an happy to share the story with others, while changing our own perception of the World.

Training in Dubai during summer time might seem to be extreme for those who are not used to the weather of a tropical desert climate. But climbing some sections of the route up to the summit of Everest is not much different. The Western Cwm, an area climbers go through to reach the summit, can be very hot with temperatures over 37C. While on summit day temperatures can drop down to -62C. Training in extreme weather conditions really helps developing mechanisms in our body to adapt to the conditions in Everest. Training outdoors in Dubai has proved to be very beneficial for me as I prepared for other challenges in the last two years.  I have recently blogged about it here

Some people might also think the orography of UAE is not the most appropriate to prepare for a climb like this. However many people don’t know we have plenty of beautiful mountains, which in some cases are higher than those we find in the home countries of many famous climbers we follow on their challenges around the world. UAE and Oman is a fantastic playground for outdoor enthusiast, and that included Altitude Junkies like me. We might not have snow in our mountains but we are one step away from countries like Iran that stock one of the best selection of 4000m peaks in the World

On top of that, in Dubai we have a big advantage when it comes to train for positive gradient every day. Not many people can go on a long drive to hike 1200m or as higher after work. And that applies to citizens of Dubai as well as those living in Chamonix, France. However what we have in Dubai is the largest number of skyscrapers in just one town. That allows me to train for positive gradient in many different buildings whenever I want. Last year I was visiting friends and climbing the staircase in the buildings where they live. Dubai Trade Center, Dubai Marina, Greens, Tecom, JLT… the possibilities are endless and the result is that you get stronger by the day.

This year I decided to plan for a comprehensive training where I increase elevation gain in a long staircase every week, starting with 750m in the first session and finishing with 2000m

by Mach 30th right before I leave to Tibet and Everest.  My training plan is ambitious and cannot be executed in random places, so I was a bit concerned about finding the right building where to train two-three times per week. Then I looked at the DMCC Almas Tower in JLT, the tallest commercial building in the Middle East, located just 10 minutes away from my house in The Springs. This 63-floor purpose built tower is home to over 300 regional and international companies from the entire value chain in the diamonds and colored stones sector. Almas means Diamond in Arabic, and I felt like discovering a mine when I first heard back from Patricia Adem, from the JLTCommunity Services team in DMCC, after I sent one email with my expedition dossier and request to use DMCC facilities to train every day. Patricia and her colleague Andrew Fairie kindly accepted to hold a meeting were to discuss the best way to help me achieving my goals, and few days after that I was provided with authorization to use Almas Tower facilities as a gateway to the summit of Mt Everest.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), a government authority established in 2002 to enhance commodity trade flows through Dubai, performs several roles which have firmly established Dubai as a regional and international trading hub. DMCC regulates, promotes and facilitates trade across a range of commodities sectors, including gold, diamonds, pearls, precious metals and tea . It is also the licensing authority and the master developer of the JLT Free Zone which is home to over 5,900 companies and over 55,000 people living and working across 64 towers. Major multinational companies (the likes of DeBeers, LVMH, Harley Davidson, Tilda and Damas) as well as small and medium enterprises across all sectors have made the Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) free zone their home. And today I am proudly sponsored by DMCC and I used the Almas Tower to climb up and down 4352 floors, 16552m vertical distance and 8276m cumulative elevation in only 10 nonconsecutive days. And this is just the beginning… With DMCC’s support I will climb three times the altitude of Mt Everest (8848m) in the Almas Tower before I leave to conquer the Top of The World!



When it’s time to ask for help from the experts

I started to train regularly when I was preparing from my first high altitude expedition in Nepal, Island Peak. Two years after that I have to look retrospectively and say I learnt a lot about training and health. I used to train at the climbing wall, combined with many long and fast running sessions, elliptical machine, and some gymnastics at home. Very little stretching and a self-designed diet aimed to loose fat, combined with a completely random training plan and not observing results or listening to my body, took me to the point where I was not able to train at all since I had a lot of pain on lower back and knees…

At that point I visited a fantastic doctor specialized in sports medicine. Dr. William D. Murrell, Orthopedic Sports Medicine Surgeon, was the doctor who was taking care of my injured shoulder after I crashed my motorbike and had surgery done on 2010. He did a good job with my shoulder and so I asked him to assess the problem in my knees. He started the investigation by analyzing x-rays and MRI from the knee more prone to develop pain. To my surprise and happiness, the doctor concluded I had a perfect knee and therefore the reason for the pain should be hidden in my regular training habits. He asked me to visit a personal trainer to do a functional assessment. I was a bit disappointed with the outcome of the investigation, since I was expecting the doctor to use a magic stick to pull a solution out of a hat. I love outdoors and I’ve been always against gyms and personal trainers. Then Dr. Murrell offered me a deal. He would write a referral letter for the insurance to cover the cost of the functional assessment and I’d be able to get reimbursed for it. I contacted my medical insurance and they approved it. That was a smart decision since it saved them a lot of money from medical consultancy, physiotherapy sessions and other costs that otherwise I would have been incurred as result of the pain I was suffering in back and knees. The personal trainer did a fantastic job assessing my training and dietary habits, and in very few session he helped me identifying mistakes that at the end of the day are quite simple but make a huge difference when you try to train extremely hard to perform well at the highest mountains on Earth. He did not have a magic stick, he just helped to open my eyes and realize how ignorant I was. Running 10k fast pace, and finishing with a shower, grilled vegetables and plain water, is the perfect example of what to do if you want to visit the doctor with pain everywhere every week. Insurance companies are also quite ignorant since they are reluctant to invest on things like that functional assessment, food intolerance or allergy tests, which will save them lots of money on the long term.


My left shoulder after surgery and 9 months recovery


After that brief experience with the personal trainer, I decided to investigate on my own and improve many aspects of my training and lifestyle, focusing on cross training, diet and rest. I have improved and learned a lot by myself, but once I decided to go my first eight-thousander I had to recognize I’m just an IT Geek and seeking for advice from the very best experts will definitely improve my chances to summit.

At that point I was following my good friend Ismael Blanco. Ismael is one of these guys who make his passion for sports and fitness a way of living, but he is not the standard one. I know too many people in the sports business that is as knowledgeable as I was when I injured my knees. Ismael is a certified Master Trainer on Functional Training, and he holds many years of experience working as personal trainer in Dubai and Spain. But most important, Ismael is one of this endurance guys who is able to break all physiological limits, setting records that you don’t even know could ever be set. I still remember when I first met him and he told me that story about how he totally changed the fitness level of his main customer before they went together for a long run up to the Annapurna Basecamp in Nepal. They looked for the stronger guide in Nepal that could follow and lead them on the trail, but they almost killed the poor guy who could not keep up with their pace after few days… and you know these Sherpa people are made of a different paste! Ismael has been very active in the competition world last year, having an outstanding performance on the Duatlón 101km de Ronda, VII Triatlón Ciudad de Almería, Emotion Extreme, AXtrail® series UTAX, I Duatlón Ciudad de Almería and the Duatlón Desafio Almería… all of that in only one year! He seem to have no limit, he is like Forrest Gump but he does not eat chocolates because he also knows what it takes to build a body able to cope with the 166km of a mountain ultra-marathon!



Ismael on the VII Triatlón Ciudad de Almería


Together with Ismael I have developed a training plan that is extraordinarily hard, but it will help me to be physically and mentally prepared for my extreme challenge in April this year. Ismael has been incredible helpful and he suggested to focus the training in quality rather than quantity and setting goals and checkpoints. I will share more details on the training plan in a different post but to summarize these are the main points of the plan as whole:

The plan is divided in blocks of 5 weeks with the last one being a regenerative week. Total length is 14 weeks starting from Dec 30th.

It’s a follow up on the standard plan I had for my preparation for Khan Tengri last year, but it incorporates a progression on the positive gradient during my training sessions in the stair case. Less weight in the backpack and more series of same gradient in each training session, increasing either the gradient or series in a very smart way. Before I was more focused on accumulating gradient and weight than any other thing…. Now I work on building up endurance gradually for 4 weeks to finish on the 6th week with a long hike of a minimum ascent equivalent to the cumulative gradient of the last week. The plan is very ambitious, and on the final week, around March 30th, I should be able to cope with a positive slope of 2000m in one day.

Cross training sessions include bicycle or elliptical machine as well as gymnastics. Work on the climbing wall is kept as usual, since we both believe on the benefits of this.

In the second block we incorporate hypoxic training sessions in a high altitude chamber in Dubai. Two training sessions followed by brief work on the climbing wall.

Core endurance and stabilization are included in almost every training session.

1h stretching and foam roller workouts are performed regularly with the exception of the rest days.



Training at the climbing wall with 15kg backpack


As for the diet, I will write a dedicated article on this, where I’ll include specific details on the menus and supplements used during these 14 weeks.

I want to finish with a GIGANTIC THANK YOU to my good friend and outstanding athlete Ismael. I strongly suggest you to follow him on his astronomic progression in the world of Trail Running and Triathlon.

What if I get sick up there? – The high altitude aid kit

We can discuss for hours how to prevent of sickness from appearing during our expeditions. From allergic reactions, to gastric infections and diarrhea, constipation, cold, Khumbu cough, blocked nose, eye dryness and infections, ear infections, gynecological problems, insect bites, blisters, cuts and small traumas. These are the most common heath issues you are most likely to experience during the course of any expedition, but on high altitude climbing the real challenge is how to prevent and fight altitude related illnesses, such as Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS).

There is a long list of places in the Internet where to find information on how to build a first aid kit, but I found quite difficult to find a comprehensive list of what to include in the kit for high altitude expeditions. During most of the big climbs I’ve done, I relied on my basic first aid kit for generic health issues such as most of the things mentioned in my previous line. For my biggest challenge ever, Khan Tengri 2012 Expedition, I had the same kit with extra medicines, and for high altitude sickness I relied on the big medical kit we carried as a team during the expedition. This, when I see it retrospectively, is a mistake for two reasons. A communal medical kit might not have enough supplies for several climbers falling ill during the course of the same expedition. And secondly, you might have unexpected reaction to some of the drugs included in the kit. During that expedition we were lucky to have two doctors in the climbing team, but most of the times you have to rely in your or someone else’s knowledge when fighting sickness. In big and complex commercial expeditions, such as the ones carried out to the eight thousanders, medical consultancy is included or available as basecamp service. However you should not expect the yaks to carry up a whole pharmacy. In places like the Khumbu Valley in Nepal is not difficult to find doctors climbing or working in some of the most transited villages. However they are not always are fully stocked with drugs and they must charge you accordingly. Bring your own kit and you’ll be better prepared to fight illness and make it to the summit and back home safe and happy.

This post contains a list of things to include in your personal medical kit / first aid kit. It is highly advisable to go through the list with your doctor and make sure none of the medicines are contraindicated considering your medical history and current condition. You should get guidance on how to administer each medicine and carry instruction written in a piece of paper stored in the kit. In certain circumstances you might be unable to think clearly, and these instructions should be easy to read and understand by you or your climbing partners. Some directions on the dose are included here, but all this information is to be carefully reviewed and discussed with your doctor. This list is designed for someone very healthy like me (thanks god!), and it does not consider certain pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, allergies, high blood pressure, etc.

For certain destinations some of the medicines can get you into legal issues, so it worth investigating that in advance, and carrying a letter from the doctor if necessary.

I have divided the list in two sections. The first one contains things that must be included in the kit as bare minimum, it’s the kit you must carry with you at all times to cope with emergencies. The second contains a list of extra things that will help you fighting other common illnesses and will make your trip more pleasant by helping with minor issues.

Basic high altitude aid kit:

  • Plasters, Elastic band, Gauze pads, Adhesive dressings, Burn and Blister dressings, Antiseptic Gauze pads, Antiseptic cream, Tweezers and Needles – cuts and small traumas
  • Diamox (Acetozolamide) – 250mg tablets, 2 times a day, 30 per person – Cerebral and Pulmonary Edema (HACE, HAPE). 125 mg about an hour before bedtime ­- Periodic breathing
  • Nifedipine – 10mg tablets, 3 times a day, 12 per person – Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)
  • Dexamethasone – 4mg tablets, 6 times a day, 20 per person – Cerebral Edema (HACE)
  • Ciprofloxacin Antibiotic – 750mg tablets, 2 times a day for 3 days, 10 per person – Diarrhea caused by bacterial infections
  • Loperamide – 2mg capsules taken up to 8 times normally after defecating, 10 per person – Relieving effects of diarrhea
  • Azithromycin Antibiotic 500mg daily for 3 days, 5 per person – To treat many different types of infections caused by bacteria, such as respiratory infections, skin infections, ear infections as well as diarrhea
  • Paracetamol – 500mg tablets, two every 4-6h, 20 per person – To treat many conditions such as headache, muscle aches, backache, toothaches, colds, and fevers.
  • Ibuprofen – 600mg tablets, dose depends on the condition to treat, must be taken with food, 20 per person – To reduce fever and treat pain or inflammation caused by many conditions such as headache, toothache, back pain, menstrual cramps, or minor injury
  • Micropur Forte water sanitizer – 1 tablet per liter of water, 50 per person

Extra kit:

  • Aspirin – Used as an analgesic to relieve minor aches and pains, as an antipyretic to reduce fever, and as an anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Diphen (diphenhydramine) – 25mg tablets, one or two every 4-6h – To treat sneezing, runny nose, itching, watery eyes, itching throat, and other symptoms of allergies and the common cold. Is also used to suppress coughs, to treat motion sickness and to induce sleep. Used with epinephrine in the treatment of severe allergic sock
  • Amoxycillin 250mg and Metronidazole 200mg – Additional antibiotics to be used under medical supervision
  • Calmatel (Piketoprofen) – 60g ointment tube – Analgesic, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory preparation. Ideal to treat small traumas.
  • Blastoestimulina – 50g ointment tube – Cicatrizant and antibiotic preparation. Ideal for cracked skin on hands, and the typical infections around the nails, or skin irritation between legs.
  • Liposic ophthalmologic gel – To treat eye dryness and ophthalmological issues at night
  • Artelac eye drops (hypromellose) – To treat eye dryness and ophthalmological issues during the day
  • Panadol Hot Lemon and Honey – Cold and flu relief
  • Pseudoephedrine 60mg 3 times a day or Xylometazoline Nasal spray – Blocked nose
  • Strepsils – Sore Throat Lozenges with anesthetic. Also useful for mouth sores
  • Cough Lozenges, e.g Doctor Andreu
  • Mouth sore gel
  • Supralax Senna constipation tablets – To be taken in the evening, prior going to bed – A natural herb laxative, helpful in treating constipation.
  • Afterbite wet tissues – Relief from insect bites
  • Thermomether (must not brake under extreme temperatures)
  • Depending on your skills you may want to include other items such as scalpel, synthetic suture and vinyl globes.

Other important things to bring and make sure we are protected against external factors that produce health issues are

  • Sunscreen and moisturizer, to protect the skin from the sun and prevent the dry skin from developing cracks that can get infected
  • Lip balm & sunscreen
  • Mosquito repellent wet tissues

You can also purchase one First Aid Kit designed for outdoor activities, such us the Lifesystems Mountain First Aid Kit and complement it with some of the things listed in this post.


Basic Lifesystems First Aid Kit with some additions and the extra kit with essential things such as the emergency condom.

Lifesystems products are distributed in UAE by Global Climbing, the main distributor of outdoor adventure brands in the Middle East. Global Climbing is also the regional representative of Walltopia climbing walls and HRT, two of the worlds largest and most innovative companies working with artificial climbing structures.

All products distributed by Global Climbing can be found in many places in Dubai, but the one shop stop for outdoor enthusiast is Adventure HQ. Located at Dubai’s Times Square Centre, it is the ultimate destination for outdoor adventure gear.

Before you go

Visit your doctor at least six months before you leave for your expedition, get a blood test done to make sure you are doing fine with things like glucose and iron levels, which can seriously affect hemoglobin saturation and oxygen delivery at high altitude. Have a full dental check and cleaning done before departure, a minor dental problem at sea level can become a serious issue in a long high altitude expedition. If you suffer from eye dryness like I do, I recommend you to visit your ophthalmologist one week before departure to have you eye lids and tear ducts cleaned. That prevents the awkward dryness and ophthalmological issues from appearing. I did that before my last expedition and I climbed with fresh eyes and no bothering during the whole trip.

Make everybody aware of your medical conditions, the symptom and treatment. Your illness could become a risk for everyone in your group. If you need especial medication make clear labels and instructions, have spare supplies and split the kit to lower the chance of losing it all. Ask your doctor to prepare an official letter, explaining your condition, treatment and contact details.

Get first aid training for you and your climbing partners. Make sure they know about AMS and how to treat it. Think about what you will do if things go wrong

Consult with you travel nurse about vaccinations and make sure these are not contraindicated for high altitude climbing.

During the course of the expedition


If you get sick, make an effort not to spread viruses and bacteria among all expedition members. You should observe strict hygiene using sop and hand disinfectors regularly, especially when entering in mess tents and other communal areas, and when leaving the toilet.

If you take medicines, write down everything and changes in you condition.


Our mess tent in Khan Tengri basecamp, a festival for viruses and bacteria. Entry was prohibited without washing hands.

Acetazolamide – Myths, Use & Dosage

Acetazolamide (Diamox®) is a medication that forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, this re-acidifies the blood, balancing the effects of the hyperventilation that occurs at altitude in an attempt to get oxygen. This re-acidification acts as a respiratory stimulant, particularly at night, reducing or eliminating the periodic breathing pattern common at altitude. Its net effect is to accelerate acclimatization, it makes a process that might normally take about 24-48 hours speed up to about 12-24 hours.

Common side effects include numbness, tingling, or vibrating sensations in hands, feet, and lips. Also, taste alterations, and ringing in the ears. These go away when the medicine is stopped. Since acetazolamide works by forcing a bicarbonate diuresis, you will urinate more on this medication. Uncommon side effects include nausea and headache. A few climbers have had extreme visual blurring after taking only one or two doses of acetazolamide.

It is highly advisable to consult with your doctor and test the medication if possible.

For treatment of AMS:The recommend a dosage is 250 mg every 12 hours. The medicine can be discontinued once symptoms resolve

For Periodic Breathing: 125 mg about an hour before bedtime. The medicine should be continued until you are below the altitude where symptoms became bothersome


If acetazolamide is stopped, symptoms will worsen: There is no rebound effect. If acetazolamide is stopped, acclimatization slows down to your own intrinsic rate. If AMS is still present, it will take somewhat longer to resolve; if not – well, you don’t need to accelerate acclimatization if you ARE acclimatized. You won’t become ill simply by stopping acetazolamide

Acetazolamide hides symptoms: Acetazolamide accelerates acclimatization. As acclimatization occurs, symptoms resolve, directly reflecting improving health. Acetazolamide does not cover up anything – if you are still sick, you will still have symptoms. If you feel well, you are well.

Acetazolamide will prevent AMS from worsening during ascent: Acetazolamide DOES NOT PROTECT AGAINST WORSENING AMS WITH CONTINUED ASCENT. Plenty of people have developed HAPE and HACE who believed this myth.

Acetazolamide will prevent AMS during rapid ascent: This is actually not a myth, but rather a misused partial truth. Acetazolamide does lessen the risk of AMS, that’s why we recommend it for people on forced ascents. This protection is not absolute, however, and it is foolish to believe that a rapid ascent on acetazolamide is without serious risk. Even on acetazolamide, it is still possible to ascend so rapidly that when illness strikes, it may be sudden, severe, and possibly fatal.

Treating Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS)

The mainstay of treatment of AMS is rest, fluids, and mild analgesics: paracetamol, aspirin, or ibuprofen. These medications will not cover up worsening symptoms. The natural progression for AMS is to get better, and often simply resting at the altitude at which you became ill is adequate treatment. Improvement usually occurs in one or two days, but may take as long as three or four days. Descent is also an option, and recovery will be quite rapid.

A frequent question is how to tell if a headache is due to altitude. Altitude headaches are usually nasty, persistent, and frequently there are other symptoms of AMS; they tend to be frontal (but may be anywhere), and may worsen with bending over. However, there are other causes of headaches, and you can try a simple diagnostic/therapeutic test. Dehydration is a common cause of headache at altitude. Drink one liter of fluid, and take some paracetamol or one of the other analgesics listed above. If the headache resolves quickly and totally (and you have no other symptoms of AMS) it is very unlikely to have been due to AMS.


We had to use it the last night in basecamp…




The challenge of exercising and staying hydrated under extreme weather conditions

When you live in the desert you realize how important hydration is to perform well on you outdoor adventures. Also performing your outdoor adventures becomes quite challenging if you are not willing to “hibernate” in your AC cooled “cave” in Dubai during the warmest months. As opposed to that, performing your favorite sports under very cold conditions is another joy many would refuse to take unless they know for sure they can return to their comfort zone right away. That is the secret recipe of successful businesses likeSki Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and largest indoor snow park in the World, where people can enjoy freezing temperatures and going back home on the same day through the sandy roads of UAE. Staying hydrated under extremely cold conditions is also crucial and surprisingly difficult if you don’t have the right experience and gear.

For some people like me, learning how to stay out of the comfort zone and performing well for long periods time is crucial in order to achieve our goals, such us climbing the highest mountains in the World. For the last two years I’ve been training regularly outdoors and practicing my adventure sports even when the temperature goes over 40°C and 80% humidity. I’ve been also jumping for these hellish temperatures to subzero conditions in just few hours or days. During all that time I have heard many stories and learned many lessons on the way…

Feel likes temperatures

Many times when you watch the weather forecast or you read it in you mobile phone app, you hear about the Feels Like Index, which normally differs from the actual temperature one can expect to see in the display of your adventure watch. This is a factored mixture of the Wind Chill Factor and the Heat Index.

Wind Chill Factoris the apparent temperature felt on exposed skin, which is a function of the air temperature and wind speed. It is always lower than the air temperature, except at higher temperatures where wind chill is considered less important. In cases where the apparent temperature is higher than the air temperature, the heat index is used instead.

The Heat Indexcombines air temperature and dew point in an attempt to determine the human-perceived equivalent temperature. The human body normally cools itself by perspiration, or sweating, which evaporates and carries heat away from the body. However, when the relative humidity is high the evaporation rate is reduced, so heat is removed from the body at a lower rate causing it to retain more heat than it would in dry air. Measurements have been taken based on subjective descriptions of how hot subjects feel for a given temperature and humidity, allowing an index to be made which corresponds a temperature and humidity combination to a higher temperature in dry air.

At high temperatures, the level of relative humidity needed to make the heat index higher than the actual temperature is lower than at cooler temperatures. For example, at 27°C the heat index will agree with the actual temperature if the relative humidity is 45%, but at 43°C, any relative-humidity reading above 17% will make the Heat Index higher than 43°C. Humidity is deemed not to raise the apparent temperature at all if the actual temperature is below approximately 20°C.

Heat index is based on temperature measurements taken in the shade and not the sun, so extra care must be taken while in the sun.

Summer trad climbing in the Emirate of Ras al Khaimah. With temperatures around 40°C, the humidity is so high that visibility is reduced on long distance

Training in Dubai, day or night?

Solar radiation can be extreme if there is little humidity to block the sun’s rays. Desert surfaces receive more than twice the solar radiation received by humid regions and lose almost twice as much heat at night. During the summer the temperature in the desert goes to extreme values and the warm air is captured in humid coastal areas like the city of Dubai, where relative humidity levels normally reach the maximum around 12am. At the same time inland desert areas cool down dramatically since the dry air does not capture the heat.

According to this, the heat index in Dubai is problematic during both night and day times. And solar radiation hardens the conditions during the day. Both heat index and solar radiation are not an issue at night in desert areas away from the coast. Therefore the ideal training scenario is located somewhere in the desert sometime during the night.

If you have to train in the city like I do most of the time, you should consider doing it in the evening after the sunset, and before or after the maximum humidity levels are reached. I normally use wunderground.comto observe these values through the year.

Summer mornings in the desert offer beautiful skies compare with the foggy city

The benefits of training in extreme heat

Failing to prepare properly for training in the warmer months in Dubai can lead to the following:

  • Training during the day can lead to Sun stroke (AKA Insolation, Thermic Fever or Siriasis), term applied to the effects produced upon the central nervous system, and through it upon other organs of the body, by exposure to the sun.
  • Training during the night can lead to Heat stroke, which is a form of hyperthermia, an abnormally elevated body temperature with accompanying physical and neurological symptoms.

However, when approached correctly, training under warm conditions has its benefits and is known as heat acclimatization training.

According to a study published by Aoyagi, McLellan, and Shephard, the potential benefits of heat acclimatization training are:

(i) improved aerobic fitness and thus a greater cardiovascular reserve (probably seen mainly after training)

(ii) a lower resting body temperature that allows greater heat storage (probably seen mainly after acclimation)

(iii) a decreased energy cost of a given intensity of exercise (seen after acclimation and also as the learning component of training)

(iv) an enhanced sweating response at a given percentage of maximal effort (probably developed by both treatments)

(v) a slower increase in body temperature owing to (iii) and/or (iv) [seen after both treatments]

(vi) a reduced cardiovascular stress because of changes in the autonomic nervous system (probably realized mainly by training), expansion of blood volume (seen after both treatments) and/or a decreased peripheral pooling of blood (probably found after both treatments)

(vii) improved subjective tolerance reflecting a decrease in the relative intensity of a given activity (probably seen mainly after training), a reduction in the physiological strain (found after both treatments) and/or habituation to heat-exercise stress (probably developed by both treatments)

Factors affecting improvements in physiological and psychological responses to a given set of conditions include:

(i) the individual’s initial fitness and acclimatization to heat

(ii) age, gender, hydration, sleep deprivation, circadian rhythms and in women the menstrual cycle

(iii) use of ergogenic aids such as fluid ingestion, carbohydrate and/or electrolyte replacement and blood doping;

(iv) event or test conditions such as the mode of exercise, the severity of environmental heat stress and the type of clothing worn

(v) treatment conditions such as the intensity, duration and frequency of exercise and/or heat exposure, the length of any rest intervals and cumulative depletion of body water and minerals

When training in high temperatures these are some factors to take into account

  • There are certain times in a day when both the solar radiation and heat index are minimum. In Dubai I find perfect training around 9pm when solar radiation has been partially dissipated and heat index remains “low”
  • Running long distance is not a good idea, since is very difficult to re-hydrate on the go. If you chose to train long distance, rather than intervals or speed, use a good hydration system to be carried in a backpack or belt
  • Opt for the lightest clothing you can find and make sure it can handle the excess of sweat. Some fabrics like cotton tend to absorb and retain liquid preventing evaporation of sweat, thus leading to the risk of heat stroke. On some good training clothes made of synthetic fabrics you can easily see the sweat dripping from specifically designed areas, and when you finish the training session they dry out quickly and do not retain odor.

Wonderwall in the Emirate of Al Ain is shaded most of the day and since it’s well inside the peninsula the humidity tend to be low in summer

The importance of staying hydrated

Water makes up about 70 percent of the muscles, organs, and solid tissue in the body and is crucial to many of the body’s processes. Dehydration negatively affects such functions as eliminating toxins, delivering nutrients, carrying oxygen to the cells of the body, producing energy, and lubricating joints. Dehydration can impact proper balance of vital electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium, which are also essential to healthy functioning of the body.

The body normally generates heat as a result of metabolism, and is usually able to dissipate the heat by either radiation of heat through the skin or by evaporation of sweat. However, in extreme heat + high humidity + vigorous physical exertion, the body may not be able to dissipate the heat and the body temperature rises, sometimes up to 41°C or higher. The main cause of heat stroke is dehydration. A dehydrated person may not be able to sweat fast enough to dissipate heat, which causes the body temperature to rise.

There are different methods to diagnose dehydration, such as a complete blood count or urine specific gravity tests. But when we are up in the mountains the only and best method is using common sense, and thirst is the first indicator of dehydration. A properly hydrated climber drinks small amounts of water constantly so that thirst do not manifest as symptom of dehydration state. Other indicators are dry mouth, decreased urine output and increased urine osmolality (concentration of particles in urine), dry skin, headache (especially in the morning) or constipation. I personally pay extra attention to the color or my urine. Lightly colored urine is produced under normal hydration (euhydration). Completely clear urine indicates hyperhydration, which might become an issue in high altitude especially for people prone to develop AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness). Too little and highly colored urine reveals hypohydration (dehydration).

At high altitude it is normal to be urinating more than usual. That is due to some changes taking place in the body’s chemistry and fluid balance during acclimatization. The osmotic center, which detects the “concentration” of the blood, gets reset so that the blood is more concentrated. This results in an altitude diuresis as the kidneys excrete more fluid.

If you are not taking a leak frequently during your ascent, it’s a clear indicator you may be dehydrated, or you may not be acclimatizing well. The most effective solution for the latter is the treatment with acetazolamide (Diamox®). This is a medication that forces the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, triggering some effects that will help on acclimation and fighting AMS. Since acetazolamide works by forcing a bicarbonate diuresis, you will urinate more on this medication.

At extreme altitudes the digestive system becomes inefficient, and it’s crucial to get rid of the toxins, therefore we should pay extra attention to visit the loo to make water and all the rest regularly. A proper hydration will facilitate the formation and displacement of sediments in the intestines.

There’s always a climbing partner playing games with my camera, LOL

Dehydration at high altitude and subzero conditions

Many people confuse the symptoms of dehydration with altitude sickness, but at moderately high altitudes dehydration is responsible for more illness than oxygen insufficiency.

There are different reasons why people dehydrate faster at high altitude. With lower pressure, moisture from skin surface and lungs evaporates faster, sun and wind exposure is also higher, accelerating evaporation. Relative humidity is generally low at high altitude, which facilitates perspiration during periods of intense physical activity. With lower oxygen levels, breathing patterns change and bigger amounts of moist are exhaled.

And there are many factors that make rehydration difficult at high altitude. Water sources are generally limited and they have to be transformed from solid states and treated to prevent illness. As a rule of thumb during my expeditions I never drink water from springs or rivers. On short trips the presence of virus or parasites in the water is not a big point of concern, but when I’m embarked in a long and demanding expedition I always take the precaution of filtering and purifying drinking water. Once the water is prepared, it has be stored and carried up the hill. In certain situation this becomes sort of a challenge. During alpine ascents the amount of gear carried up the hill has to be reduced to the bare minimum and sometimes we have to restrict the amount of bottled water we take with us. Also we have to be precise with the amount of fuel to transport since this will determine the amount of water we can prepare throughout the ascent. Under very cold weather conditions, preventing the water from freezing is also very challenging. Many times we find ourselves with plenty of solid water stored in our heavy backpack, that has become totally useless, and we can’t even get rid of it! To sum one more difficulty to the process of being hydrated, it worth mentioning that many people do not feel as thirsty in higher altitudes as they should. Besides that, we are normally busy with the technical aspects of the ascent, therefore we cannot get easy access to our water bottles, we tend to forget about drinking, and we dehydrate unconsciously.

In future posts I will go through some tips & tricks I use in my expeditions to process, disinfect and transport water. I will also explain which products can be used to improve the water characteristics, helping keep body chemistry in balance and accelerating recovery.

No time to melt ice, and your tongue gets stuck!

If Ueli can do it…

For those that keep saying my training plan for my upcoming expedition in nuts, this is Ueli Steck’s (the fastest climber in the world) climbing training plan:

MONDAY > 1 hour running–Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour stabilization (core) training / slideshow
TUESDAY > 2 hours running–Intensity 2 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
WEDNESDAY > 4 hours climbing in the gym / 2 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1/2 hour stretching / slideshow
THURSDAY > 4 hours climbing in the gym / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
FRIDAY > 1.5 hours running–Intensity 1 / 1 hour stretching / 1 hour mental training / slideshow
SATURDAY > 3.5 hours running–Intensity 4 / 1 hour stretching / slideshow
SUNDAY (REST DAY) > Climbing with my wife 4 hours / 1 hour stretching

If Ueli can do it, why do you think I can’t???? I just need to quit my job and find a wife 🙂