#0474 Oxygen

In 2002 my wife and I spent eight weeks travelling South America. A planned highlight of the trip was a four day trek walking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, an ancient ruin set high in the mountains.

I trained for the walk, at least I thought I did but I was not prepared for the altitude. At its highness point on day 3 of the trek is Dead Woman’s Pass sitting at 4215 metres (13,828 ft) above sea level. For context Australia’s highest peak Mt Kosciusko is just 2,228 m (7,310 ft).

Not prepared for the affect a lack of oxygen has to the brain I struggled.

What made me feel worse was watching the team of local Sherpa pack up our nightly campsites after we had left, pop them on their backs, run passed us before lunch, setup and cook lunch, wait for us to leave, pack up again, run by us again and setup full camp for the night and prep our dinner.

And I am talking everything from metal chairs, gas bottles, bbq’s and tents. Heavy, old fashion kit. They would jog on ahead like it was a casual afternoon stroll in the countryside. Amazing.

Even though we were at all different fitness levels, no-one was left behind. There was a guide at the front leading the way and one at the back carrying an oxygen bottle for anyone who needed it. We were a team and everyone was going to make it to the destination.

Take a look around you (including yourself) Is your team struggling up the hill, coasting up the front, or lagging behind bent over vomiting?

Each member might be at different fitness levels but as a team you must work together and adapt.

Know when to lead, when to rest and when to provide oxygen.


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