Nov 24, 2017

Is it wise to trek in high altitudes during periods?

Goecha La Trek Tshoka Campsite Sikkim India
Campsite at Tshoka

Well, just got back from the beautiful state of Sikkim. The ever popular Goecha La trek was in my to-do list for a long time. Finally, done with it. With few regrets, complaints and inconveniences. And loads of beautiful memories. The Himalayas rock! Trekking rocks! Travel is life!

I want to share one experience with you. No, I am not talking about 'how Himalayan trekking changed my life' or something similar. We have a lot of blog articles on that subject everywhere on the net. I want to talk something about the difficulty I faced as a woman. You guessed it right ... Untimely period problems! Here it goes ...

Sunrise at Tshoka campsite

Goecha La is a moderate+ trek with the ascend above 4,500m. I went on the trek as usual without offloading. But, after the steep ascending on the first day I had heavy bleeding. Just 5 days after the normal menstrual cycle! I was shocked but was stupid enough not to offload the rucksack next day. After second day's climbing and loosing a lot of blood I was feeling very weak. But, I pretended my sickness, moodiness was because of the cold and the heavy rain. I still didn't offload. I carried it myself to Dzongri on the third day. When I reached the campsite I was almost drained and was trying to lie down wherever possible because I couldn't sit or stand straight. I pretended it to be AMS and people around me thought so too. I very well knew it wasn't. Next morning, I struggled to go up to the Dzongri Top for that popular sunrise. I skipped acclimatization trek to Dzongri La. Every now and then my hands and feet went numb. But, still I went on with the trek ahead without offloading. On sixth day, it was hard to walk up to the next campsite at Lamuney. The trail from Dzongri to Lamuney seemed endless. I was slow, walked almost alone and reached well after sunset. I couldn't take any pictures or look around at the beautiful scenery. Final climb to the viewpoint-1 next morning was very painful. The last 100 steps were hardest. At every step I felt like I was going to fall. The temperature around was running -ve, the hydration pack was frozen. The body inside was so weak that I couldn't understand why I was so cold. With exhaustion and no water to drink (water was frozen) I thought I was going to die. But, I finished with my trek, and carried the sack down to Kockchurang from Lamuney! Almost everyday I changed the sanitary pads drenched in fresh blood three times a day. I was moody as hell. There was a point I couldn't take anymore, on eighth day I offloaded my pack. To my delight that day the flow of blood was reduced by at least 30%. Next day it was reduced to 50%. It completely stopped by the time I reached home three days later.

Kockchurang Goecha La Trek Sikkim India
The river Prekchu at Kockchurang campsite

With the above narrative I have two thoughts that keep coming to my mind. First, I admire my grit. The do-or-die attitude. Second, I wonder was it wise to continue with the trek when so much was going on? What if I had fallen on the way to summit? I didn't have 'Adventure insurance'. And even if I had one, am not sure how would it help? I do believe that I am the best judge of the situation. So, what was happening to me was known only to me. My safety was in my own hands and I took a chance. Everything went on well but "Was it wise?".

At high altitudes the body behaves differently because of the thin air. Any female of any age might get untimely periods. It is a known factor. After 30 or 35 years of age the body behaves differently too. Leave alone at high altitudes even in the plains women have issues. It was my first experience. I never had issues with carrying the rucksack. Just 5 months ago I had finished Roopkund trek like a piece of cake. With this experience I would like to tell you girls ... On a trek, if you feel uneasy due to periods you don't have to quit but at least offload. Happy trekking ...

Do you have any thoughts or similar experience? Please share ...
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


  1. WoW ! Mindblowing pictures from high altitude !

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