Sleeping at altitude without O's

  • Creator
  • #6386

    Hi Steve,
    I recently climbed Manaslu and made a late decision to attempt without oxygen. Whilst the climb to the high camp at 7500m went well and I felt very good physically about the summit day I had an awful experience trying to sleep or even gain any sort of rest that night. After 8 hours of frustration and considerable discomfit during the night I reached for the Oxygen. Having not done my research on what to expect with a no O’s climb ahead of the trip I worried the discomfit may have been early signs of AMS.

    What advice do you have for sleeping or getting some rest at such altitude ahead of a summit day? Due to weather we ended up spending a 2nd night at 7500m and had I managed to get through 1 sleepless night without O’s then without some decent rest I feel like I would have become weakened to the point where reaching the summit may have become tough.


Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Keymaster
    Steve House on #6402

    Hi Jon,

    Regarding resting at 7,500m without supplement ox: To be honest, I have no advice for you, it just is the way it is. There is no sleeping that high. That’s just a fact of extreme altitude. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to sleep for more than 30 min at a time above 7,200m or so. Around 7k there is a real threshold for me. I guess everyone is a bit different. I do think it’s possible for people who use a really slow acclimatization schedule to get to the point where they can rest more comfortably at 7K, you’ll see this with the altitude workers because they are such frequent / long-duration altitude dwellers they get acclimated enough to at least sleep lightly.

    One thing that will really affect your feeling/experience and ultimately recovery at bivy’s is how wasted you are from that day’s effort. The more exhausted you are, the more miserable the night will be, which becomes a self-fullfilling cycle. This strengthens the importance of your base fitness at the outset.

    Spend the time as constructively as possible, usually melting water/drinking it. And know that extreme altitude is a massive sufferfest. Go back and read “Prepare yourself to Suffer” by Jean Troillet on page 384 of Training for the New Alpinism.
    Hapy suffering 🙂

    aset.danialov on #6820

    Hi John,

    Just to share my experience sleeping on high camp on Manaslu.

    During acclimatization I had sleepless first night at camp 3 (6800-6900?). During summit push, I had good sleep though on Camp 3. I did not acclimatize at Camp 4, and for evening before summit push, I think I was just in a half-sleep stage.

    Before that I used to sleep on 6800m on Tian Shan mountains, it was totally fine. I think I had 3 nights in a row with good sleep.

    Overall I agree, that higher than 7000 it almost no such thing as a comfortable sleep. Especially on new altitude this is case 100%.

    I can’t correlate sleep quality if you had tiring day before. It is all connected to acclimatization rate. If you had easy day and not acclimatized – you will not sleep. If you had tough day climbing, but body is acclimitizing, you will have a sleep.

    For me the sleep won’t really help before summit bid and usually people don’t really sleep per se right before summit push. However, during acclimatization is crucial to sleep, that is good indication that your body is Acclimatazing

    For you it might depend also on how long you do high altitude mountaineering. In the beginning I was not able to sleep on 4000m, then after some time i didn’t have such issue.


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