Oxygen Plus's Ultimate Hiking & Mountain Climbing Guide

Oxygen Plus's Ultimate Hiking & Mountain Climbing Guide

Top Five Short Hikes in North America

Take a respite from the stress of day-to-day life with some of these amazing day hikes.

Half Dome; Yosemite National Park, California, USA

Distance: 16 Miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

Half Dome is symbolic for many hikers, as the final nearly-vertical 400 feet of the ascent provide breathtaking 360-degree vistas of Yosemite. Although the 16-mile stretch is well worth an all-day backpacking adventure, you don't have to traverse the entire trail to see splendid views. If you get the chance to hike Yosemite, even just once, this is the trail to hit.

Breakneck Ridge Trail; Hudson Valley, New York, USA

Distance: 9.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

You're sure to take in the best views of the Hudson River on Breakneck Ridge. As part of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, this nearly 10-mile hike offers something for everyone: elevation, exceptional panoramas of the Catskill Mountains and plenty of unique wildflowers and foliage in the spring and summer.

The Pinnacle Trail Loop of the Appalachian Trail; Hamburg, Pennsylvania, USA

Distance: 13 Miles
Difficulty: Moderate

Not everyone can spend several months hiking the entirety of The Appalachian Trail, but if you do get the chance to hit a segment, The Pinnacle is a great option. Long-distance hikers often remark that this is one of the most scenic segments of the trail in Pennsylvania, offering expansive outlooks of the Lehigh Valley and Hawk Mountain.

Deep Creek; Hesperia, California, USA

Distance: 12 miles
Difficulty: Easy

Isolated in a canyon deep in the high desert of San Bernardino, Hesperia's Deep Creek is the perfect place for hikers looking for privacy. The trail is beloved for its various thermal hot springs, which are favorites among explorers looking for a respite from the hustle and bustle of Southern California.

Glacier Gorge; Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, USA

Distance: 9.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous

Get up-close and personal with the Rockies on Glacier Gorge. This hike boasts some of the most exquisite views of the Rocky Mountains. Along the 10-mile stretch, you'll enjoy hidden waterfalls, alpine lakes and a backdrop of snow-capped peaks, with plenty of on- and off-trail opportunity for birdwatching, fishing and nature photography.

The Top Four Peaks to Climb in North America

Breathe in mountain-fresh air and get unmatched vistas with atop the top North American mountain climbing peaks.

Best in the East:

Cathedral Ledge; North Conway, New Hampshire, USA

Difficulty: 5.6 to 5.12

There's no denying the climbing potential available in New Hampshire, but Cathedral Ledge is a hotbed for trad (or traditional) climbers. The scenic location, near Echo Lake, is quintessential NH thanks to the picture-perfect craggy granite, which offers exceptional ice climbing as well. A series of small crags in the general region make Cathedral Ledge popular for all levels.

Best in the West:

Collosus; City of Rocks, Idaho, USA

Difficulty: 5.10c

Collosus is a favorite among trad climbers thanks to the two steep, interesting cruxes. Among the 100 or so rock islands in City of Rocks, Collosus is distinct - it offers huge scoops with scattered edges so that you can carve out your route as you go. This is the most popular line on the back side of Bath Rock.

Best in the North:

Just Do It; Smith Rock, Oregon, USA

Difficulty: 5.14c

Spanning 140 feet of the famous Monkey Face, Just Do It has been dubbed "the proudest line up the proudest wall." It was first climbed in 1992 by Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Tribout, and at the time, it was the most difficult rock pitch in North America. The 18-bolt route still offers a challenge today, and it made headlines when Paige Claasen became the first female to ascend it in 2014.

Best in the Canada:

Mount Temple East Ridge: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Difficulty: 5.7

Climbers from all over the world to ascend Mount Temple, especially in the winter. This jewel of the Canadian Rockies is consistently called out as one of the best peaks to climb, not just in North America, but throughout the world. The best part about climbing East Ridge is looking down to see the glimmering lights of the town of Lake Louise below.

Altitude Sickness when Mountain Climbing

WARNING: Oxygen Plus (O+) products are intended for recreational, intermittent use only and are not to be used as medical nor life-saving products. Any person with any type of health or medical condition should consult their physician prior to use of O+ products.

As more and more travelers seek out high-altitude adventures, scientists are fast-learning that altitude sickness is more common than we once thought (Landro). Altitude sickness - the mild form of which is known as acute mountain sickness or AMS - happens when the body is thrust into lower oxygen levels at high elevation. Those suffering from altitude sickness will experience plenty of debilitating symptoms, including flu-like symptoms such as headache, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, nosebleeds, shortness of breath and more (Altitude Sickness).

Is altitude sickness really that dangerous? Yes, and it can be even more dangerous for climbers. According to Altitude.org, a nonprofit organization funded by an altitude sickness awareness charity called Apex, acute mountain sickness can lead to more serious and life-threatening conditions, including high altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) and high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE). Typically, altitude sickness and the resulting conditions most often occur when travelers ascend to 8,000-plus feet.

Why Altitude Sickness Is Dangerous for Climbers

Unlike most skiers and snowboarders, climbers don't always have immediate access to medical assistance. Additionally, climbers experience more physical exertion, and climbing while tired or fatigued can lead to serious injury. When your body doesn't get enough oxygen and is left untreated, acute mountain sickness can quickly progress to a fatal swelling of the brain and lungs, which can lead to death (Landro).

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness While Climbing

To avoid altitude sickness on your next climbing adventure, make sure to take it slow and pay close attention to your body with every step. The most important preventative is to adjust your body to higher elevations gradually, even if it takes an extra several days. Additionally, climbers should drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol for the first 48 hours of any high-altitude trip. Doctors often remark that, because altitude symptoms are very similar to the flu and hangover, they're often overlooked. Stay closely in-tuned with your physical state anytime you ascend, as it could save your life.

Hiking and Mountain Climbing Essentials List

Whether you're going on a mountaineering day trip or are preparing for a week-long ascent, proper packing is paramount to ensuring a safe, enjoyable adventure. We recommend packing Oxygen Plus's O+; Elevate Pack, a compact canister of pure recreational oxygen, to help elevate energy, increase alertness and stave off the negative effects of high altitude. Read more about how O+ can help at high elevation here.

What to Pack: Apparel

  • Moisture-wicking base layers
  • Fleece layers
  • A waterproof jacket with hood
  • An insulated jacket, preferably down
  • A warm hat
  • A visor or baseball hat
  • A balaclava or face mask
  • Warm gloves
  • Gaiters

What to Pack: Gear *

  • GPS system
  • Compass
  • Rope
  • Harness
  • Boots
  • Ice axe
  • Ice screws
  • Hexes
  • Belay
  • Pulley
  • Carabiners (locking and non-locking)
  • Climbing gloves
  • Goggles or eye protection
  • High-capacity but lightweight climbing pack

* Choosing the appropriate gear will vary depending on the route, climate and length of your mountaineering trip. For longer trips, you'll want to pack backup gear and consider adding a headlamp, extra locking carabiners and a sewn sling for anchoring and rigging.

What to Pack: Sustenance

  • High-protein snacks (nuts, granola, protein bars)
  • High-protein lunch (dried fruit, meat, sandwiches)
  • O+ Elevate Pack and O+ Refills – or several O+ Skinni or O+ Mini oxygen canisters
  • Water
  • An extra day or two's supply of food, depending on the length of your trip

What to Pack: Emergency

  • A tent, tarp or blanket for emergency shelter
  • First-aid kit
  • Two-way radio
  • Crevasse rescue gear
  • Matches
  • Fire starter

What to Pack: Other Essentials

  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • SPF lip balm
  • Smartphone
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Towel
  • Permits
  • Toilet paper

Citations

Altitude.org | Altitude Sickness. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Landro, Laura. “Climb Every Mountain, Without Altitude Sickness.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 2015. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.

Elevation, Hiking, Mountain Climbing, Travel