altitude sickness

noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Acute reaction to a change from low altitudes to altitudes above 8,000 ft (2,400 m). Most people gradually adapt, but some have a severe reaction that can be fatal unless they return to low altitude. Normal adaptations to the reduced oxygen at high altitude (e.g., breathlessness, racing heartbeat) are exaggerated; other manifestations include headache, gastrointestinal upsets, and weakness. Pulmonary edema is quickly reversed with oxygen and evacuation to a lower area.

4659 meters above sea level

Our roadtrip took us through Sichuan province, which is situated in the south west of China. This province is comprised of many mountains, and in the west, the ranges form part of the Tibetan plateau.  Mostly very rugged, dangerous and situated in earthquake territory, there are roads which snake their way through the mountains, making it accessible only for trucks transporting goods, or by 4×4 off road vehicles.

The valleys are deep and wide, and the roads leading up, over and through these enormous mountains are steep, narrow, and treacherous. Despite the road conditions, there is also a drastic change in altitude. The base of the mountain could be as low as 1000 meters (above sea level), but as you reach the summit, it levels out at between 4000-5000 meters! This happens not only once, but continuously, as the road cuts its way through the mountains. Once you’ve committed yourself to the road, there is no turning back. No offramp to take or U-turn.

4718 meters above sea level up ahead
4718 meters above sea level up ahead

The theme for this last challenge is ‘Triumph’.  I chose to share my personal triumph – successfully travelling through the highest altitudes in the region, and although suffering altitude sickness, I was able to carry on and not turn back!

This is our triumph. It was so worth it – look at that beauty!

Sichuan province - mountain views
Sichuan province – mountain views

10 thoughts on “Triumph!

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