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Mt Dana advice?

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Mt Dana advice?

Postby dshankar » Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:11 am

Hey folks!
I've only hiked a few tiny ~4k ft mountains (like Mt Diablo) in norcal. I'm looking forward to hiking in the Yosemite region in the next few days. My eyes are on Dana based on a friend's recommendation. I've never climbed to 13k ft before, so I plan on giving myself adequate time to acclimate. I'll be driving from the Bay Area around 2am with the goal of summiting before noon. The guides on this site say a t-shirt and sneakers are fine this time of year. Would love some newbie advice!

Thanks
D
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby fedak » Fri Aug 10, 2012 3:24 pm

Everyone's physiology is different, but I would need more acclimation than that going from 0 to 13.5k.
(A full overnight sleep at a minimum)

T-shirt and sneakers are passable- you'd ideally want something with a little more grip for the scree (i.e. trail runners)

There's a chance of thunderstorms this week- watch the weather and bail out if there is storm/lightening present
(And try to be up and off by noon)

If you are primarily a trail hiker, are going solo, have never ventured above 10k before, and are driving up from the bay area- I'd suggest Clouds Rest as an alternative starter hike.
This is a signed and maintained trail and lower elevation (can be done w/o acclimation) and the views are just as stunning. Then go do Dana :)
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:05 pm

Try Cathedral Peak. It is better.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby thegib » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:21 pm

Even if it's perfectly comfy weather at Tioga Pass, where you'll start, bring a hooded windblock layer, and earmuffs. There can be cold winds at the tops of mountains.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby fedak » Fri Aug 10, 2012 5:38 pm

> Try Cathedral Peak. It is better.

It also has a class 4 summit block and the guy is looking to hike in tennis shoes
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby fatdad » Fri Aug 10, 2012 6:22 pm

Not sure if this is a troll since the question is so naive. Having said that, you plan on leaving the Bay Area at 2 a.m. and summiting 10 hours later, by noon. When were you planning on acclimating? The drive up? The hike up? Unless you're an acclimating machine, it'll be rough. At best you'll just be breathing hard and suffering unnecessarily. At worst, you'll get sick.

Tuolumne is beautiful this time of year so I'd suggest still going but trying something more modest. Mt. Hoffman is a lot lower but has incredible views from the summit. Hike to May Lake (if that feels hard don't bother with the peak) and then follow the use trail with all the superfluous cairns to the top. You could hike around the north side of Conness and check out the glacier. Fun boat ride across Saddlebag Lake too. Don't do Cathedral for the reasons already pointed out. Bad suggestion that one.

Take appropriate clothing. Hopefully you won't need but why put yourself or, worse, someone else needing to rescue you at risk because you went unprepared.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby mtneering » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:30 pm

I've done several 14ers in CO and CA, that being said. Just last week went from Bay Area to 12,000 in a handful of hours, then camped at 11,400 and again climbed to over 12k the following day. We had no major issue minor headache (could have been the wine). Hydration, fitness and experience go a long way. Altitude can grab you and make you suffer anytime. I think our June trip to CO our several 10k+ trips in July helped. We wore only light hikers prefer more on our feet than tennis shoes, we had hats and gloves a good cool breeze ripped all day on Kuna a neighboring peak.

Good luck on the trip!
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby inconsolable » Fri Aug 10, 2012 8:52 pm

A decade ago, middle-aged, only moderately trail fit, & living at sea level, 2 of us drove from the Bay area to Tuolumne, parked, & had no trouble getting up & down Dana (& to top it off, returning home that night; we had very limited time off). On the other hand, a year or 2 later, in better trail shape & having camped at 8000' for a night or 2, we both fell prey to debilitating altitude sickness going over Bishop Pass. It's a crap shoot. I second those who recommend Cloud's Rest, perhaps the greatest view in the park, & somewhat easier apart from the man-made steps early on, which are awkward for short people. And do bring along rain protection. The first time we ever started up Dana, we encountered a sudden lightning frenzy, rain, & then sleet at the saddle not far from the summit; it had been warm & sunny when we started out. Trail runners were quite appropriate: I don't think I've ever descended faster.

Hope you're out there having a great time!
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby SeanReedy » Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:45 pm

Several good alternatives to Dana or warm ups for Dana have been mentioned. The highest peaks sound more exciting and rewarding to many newbies, but as demonstrated by examples here, higher is not always better. As mentioned, reactions to altitude vary, even on different trips by the same person.

One general strategy is to drive straight to the trailhead, head up, and then return to lower elevations to recover. Another is to slowly acclimate for several days to weeks progressively going higher, but sleeping low to recover. Regardless, go in hydrated, stay hydrated, keep breathing rate high, resist the urge to run or speed up sections that feel easy early on, and study up on AMS, HACE, & HAPE. Head down as soon as nausea, headaches, or abnormal breathing begin. Go in knowing something may go wrong and judgement may be impaired. Be wary of afternoon thunderstorms at all places mentioned. If all that sounds like more risk and trouble than it is worth, stay away from Dana.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby dshankar » Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:17 pm

fatdad wrote:Not sure if this is a troll since the question is so naive. Having said that, you plan on leaving the Bay Area at 2 a.m. and summiting 10 hours later, by noon. When were you planning on acclimating? The drive up? The hike up? Unless you're an acclimating machine, it'll be rough. At best you'll just be breathing hard and suffering unnecessarily. At worst, you'll get sick.

Tuolumne is beautiful this time of year so I'd suggest still going but trying something more modest. Mt. Hoffman is a lot lower but has incredible views from the summit. Hike to May Lake (if that feels hard don't bother with the peak) and then follow the use trail with all the superfluous cairns to the top. You could hike around the north side of Conness and check out the glacier. Fun boat ride across Saddlebag Lake too. Don't do Cathedral for the reasons already pointed out. Bad suggestion that one.

Take appropriate clothing. Hopefully you won't need but why put yourself or, worse, someone else needing to rescue you at risk because you went unprepared.


I would arrive by 6am. I figured I would acclimatize over breakfast and a nap for a few hours at the base, before starting the hike at 9am. Should take me 3 hours to summit if the weather is good. Isn't that good enough? To be safe, I could leave early and arrive at the base by 2am and sleep until 8am to acclimatize.

I'm just looking for a good mental/physical challenge away from society with good views. I'll take a look at the other nearby hikes. Thanks for the recommendations!
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby fatdad » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:34 am

dshankar wrote:I'm just looking for a good mental/physical challenge away from society with good views. I'll take a look at the other nearby hikes. Thanks for the recommendations!

I can't think of a better place to do that than Tuolumne. Regardless of where you go or what you do up there, you'll be treated to some real beauty. My main point was that if you're planning on going from sea level to 13,000' in ten hours you may have some problems, especially if you don't know how you react at altitude.

I've done LA to the top of Whitney and in about 16 hrs. or so, but that involved crashing at the trailhead and getting a good 6 or 7 hrs. of sleep. That makes a huge difference in terms of how well I adapt. Definitely could have used more but I acclimate pretty well so it worked. YMMV. I recommend that you don't focus so much on bagging the tallest peak there. Even hiking into Dana Canyon would be great. Go for some nice walking and beautiful scenery. You'll have a blast whatever you choose to do.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby JHH60 » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:57 am

What Fatdad said. Sleeping one night at moderate altitude (8K'-10K') for a night makes a big difference for me hiking at altitude, especially when going from sea level to above 12K'. If I were you I'd drive up the night before, and try to get a camping spot in Tuolumne Meadows, or even better at Sawmill Campground or Saddlebag lake. These are all close to Dana and will give you some acclimitization. You can get up early, bag Dana (or Cloud's Rest or whatever) before noon, and be back home by dinner if you want to without being totally exhausted, as you'll almost certainly be if you try to do get up at 2AM, climb, and drive home in one day. Waking up in a place as beautiful as Yosemite is a fine thing just by itself. If you're coming midweek, especially later in the month when all the kids are back in school and the campsites empty out, you shouldn't have a problem getting a site. There are places just outside the park where you can sleep in your car on the side of the road without being hassled, but that's generally not allowed within Yosemite.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby dshankar » Sat Aug 11, 2012 10:08 am

Is Clouds Rest really easier? While Dana is a 3k ft gain and a 5-6 mile round trip, Clouds Rest looks like a beast with a 14 mile roundtrip and an equally impressive 10k ft summit. I feel like arriving the night before & acclimating at the trailhead with a full night's sleep in the car before climbing Dana in the morning would be easier than a 14 mile day hike. I imagine Clouds Rest also takes longer than the ~6-7 hour Dana roundtrip?

Edit: I'm also not overly concerned with summiting. If the weather goes bad or I'm having a tough time, I'll certainly call it a day and head down!
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby SeanReedy » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:03 am

dshankar wrote:Is Clouds Rest really easier? While Dana is a 3k ft gain and a 5-6 mile round trip, Clouds Rest looks like a beast with a 14 mile roundtrip and an equally impressive 10k ft summit. I feel like arriving the night before & acclimating at the trailhead with a full night's sleep in the car before climbing Dana in the morning would be easier than a 14 mile day hike. I imagine Clouds Rest also takes longer than the ~6-7 hour Dana roundtrip?

Edit: I'm also not overly concerned with summiting. If the weather goes bad or I'm having a tough time, I'll certainly call it a day and head down!


You are correct that the Dana round trip is less than half the distance, but it is steep, and all at high elevation. The higher you go, the harder it gets. The steeper you go, the harder it gets. If you are able to get a good night of sleep in your car and then respond well to the altitude, it should be quick and easy if you are in decent shape. You may even want to take in the views atop Lembert Dome before heading home, assuming all goes well, including weather. When I was faster, my round trip hike of Dana took less than 3 hours, including 15 minutes on the summit. That was after more than 24 hours at Tuolomne Meadows. That is also the best I've felt going above 13k. When coming from sea level, I tend to notice altitude at around 10k and feel progressively worse the higher I go past 12k. I have only felt miserable from developing AMS once, from 13-14k. I felt fine again when dropping back below 12-13k.

The unknown is how you will feel at high altitude. The lower suggestions are lower risk as far as fatigue from altitude and steepness, as well as lower risk of AMS. They are also arguably more scenic. If the altitude hits you hard on Dana, but not a little lower, the longer mileage, but lower altitude suggestions could end up feeling much easier. The suggestions of caution and moderation from many of us are because altitude can cause miserable and even deadly reactions at lower elevations than many might expect. It is easy to become dehydrated up high as well. If you feel good below 10k, the rolling 14 miles to Clouds Rest and back should not take more than 7 hours, but I'm not sure of your pace and endurance.

Have a good time. If it goes well, I'm sure you can get many additional ideas or suggestions on SP. I have some places with more solitude in mind, but the beauty of the area you will be visiting is top notch.
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Re: Mt Dana advice?

Postby jerryn » Sun Aug 12, 2012 2:09 am

Mt. Dana is straightforward. There is a trail leading up to the top and there are no real issues of route finding. But the winds can pick up and it can be cold. I would bring adequate wind and thermal protection. Also at 13K the UV's are more intense so you want to be sure to have adequate sun block. There is some talus climbing which can be done in tennis shoes, but I would wear light boots. I would leave the speedos, tank top and flip flops at home.

As far as acclimatization goes, getting up at 2AM and driving to the trail head really doesn't count. You might not have any issues, but you might find your climb spoiled by altitude sickness. It is better to go up at least a day in advance, camp up there, do a few smaller hikes to higher elevations and then do Dana the next morning.

my O2 for what its worth. (maybe nothing)

Jerry
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