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Advice on Altitude Prep

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Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby Biscut » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:24 pm

Living in the "right" coast all my life I've spend most of my time in ADK's, Whites, VT, and ME. I'm looking to venutre out and begin hitting some 14er's in CO. I'm a big fan of snow/ice but not going to try winter until I have a much better feel for the CO's Mt.'s.

One issue I'm concerned about is adjustment to the altitude. I've purchaed Bezruchka's Altitide Ilness: Prevention & Treatment.

From what I can gather it sure can be specific to an individual irregardless of fitness level. That said, I would really appreciate anyone willing to tell me there experience coming from flatlander areas to 10k - 14k elevation.

I'm entering a totally new realm for me and want to understand as much as I possibly can before experiencing it for myself. I tend to like to "assault" a peak. I'll get up 330AM drive 6hrs to Mt. Washington (NH) hit Hunnington, summit, and come down Lion head or Tuckerman's.....hit the brewery in Franconia for food and a drink....and back home. Usually a 22hr day depending upon driving conditions home.

My shcedule is pretty crazy so for me, as much as I'd like it, a week in CO isn't going to happen. Short duration will most likely be my window of opportunity. Shorter duration will also allow me 2 and possibly 3 trips in a year! :shock:

Sooo wanting to hear others experiences. Haven't had any issues being at 6288ft....but that sure isn't much height.

Any advice is sure welcome!

Thanks in advance, Sean
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby ywardhorner » Fri Dec 28, 2012 4:52 pm

I used to live back East and fly out West to climb. I always found that going straight to 10k made me feel pretty sick (dizzy, nauseated), but I don't think it happens to everyone. Now I live at 5k and still feel a bit "off" when I go to 10k -- get winded a little more easily. Seems like the biggest hit comes around 13k. The thing that helps the most, for me, is to be (and stay) very well hydrated. That's a lot more difficult than it sounds because I don't have much natural thirst and it goes away completely when I'm cold and/or at high elevation. But if I force myself to drink (and eat) adequately, I do a lot better.

If you can afford to spend an extra night somewhere high, like Leadville, you'll probably have more fun on the climb. And one-day climbs will be easier on you than overnighters where you stay up high.

Yvette
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby Biscut » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:08 pm

I'm one of those that needs to be very hydrated. Not so much food intake but water! Winter day hike in NH I blow through 100oz (water) in Camelback bladder. I'll usually take an extra pint just in case.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby asmrz » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:39 pm

For over 30 years, I lived at the sea level on Southern California coast. Almost every other weekend my partner and I would drive to eastern Sierra Friday night, sleep at the TH (5-7,000'), hike to 11,000 or 12,000 feet Saturday, climb a high Sierra peak and drive home to be at work Monday morning. How did that work?

Well we got to know our bodies well. You might be Olympic quality athlete in elevation, but you might not know it, it is genetic and (generally) not much you can do about it. You need to find out how well you do at elevation.

So go to elevation and observe your reaction. At the begining, a slight headache and tiredness at (lets say 11,000') will be normal. Drink plenty of fluids (2-3 quarts a day or more), don't rush the first few trips, but most importantly, observe your body reaction to altitude. If you do well, start pushing it. Faster up hill rate, push your body a bit more, observe. If you are more or less ok after strenuous uphill effort to get to cc 12,000' the first day, you are OK in general.

Once you are comfortable knowing that your response to altitude is pretty even, a whole world of the high hills will be open to you.

BTW most of us do not feel much until we get to (let's say) 9-10,000', so you'll need to hike in mountains that are at least that elevation. Be slow about it at the begining, but don't be afraid of it, unless you suspect something about yourself that we don't know about.

It does not hurt to be in very good physical condition. Being in top shape does not quarantee you good results in elevation, but well conditioned body performs better in general.

To train for higher mountains (above 22,000'), there are ways and devices to restrict your oxygen intake while jogging, hiking and training. But that is most likely a different subject.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby splattski » Fri Dec 28, 2012 5:49 pm

This article has some good info and links to more. When you get to the page, use the navigation on the right to get quickly to the section you want:
http://www.summitpost.org/expedition-me ... #chapter_8
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby Norris » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:11 am

Although this is purely subjective, my experience is that the more you expose your body to high altitude the easier it becomes to deal with high altitude. It would not surprise me if it is eventually discovered that in individuals who are not predisposed in some way to altitude sickness, the body develops an improved ability to acclimatize with each exposure. Years ago, I used to get mild headache or a queasy feeling if I climbed a 14'er in one day, but this hasn't happened to me in years. Recent scientific studies suggest that acclimatization persists longer than previously thought and that even exposures that occurred months prior can stiff confer some benefit. See for example
http://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/20586592/Altitude_preexposure_recommendations_for_inducing_acclimatization_ (click on the link for full PDF text) and also this article: http://rd.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00421-012-2308-x#page-1
So it may be that after a few trips to Colorado you will acquire the ability to climb 14ers the way you currently do Mt Washington. But if you have never been above 6K, the first few times you go you should take several days to do it and carefully assess how your body deals with it.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby WyomingSummits » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:26 am

Definitely ease into it. Sleep a night at 10k and then make your summit push if you're feeling decent in the morning. Hydration is key, and avoid protein.....simple carbs are best. As others have said, not everyone's body adjusts to altitude in the same way....some people NEVER adjust. AMS can start as low as 8,000ft but generally most feel it starting at 10k. Many people have an initial reaction as their body is adjusting but then lose the headaches and queasiness after 12-24hrs at 10K+. If you're having some issues around 10k, do not push it.....it's only going to get worse at 14k. I live in Wyoming, and a friend of mine in Virginia came out and wanted to do a moderate hike in the Bighorn mountains. We were only at 10k but he started throwing up after a 14 mile round trip hike......and he had just run his 4th 10k at sea level! Altitude is no respecter of physical conditioning but being in good shape allows your body to adjust much more quickly. Remember that cerebral and pulmonary adema, although rarer at those altitudes, can occur if AMS persists....even at 14k. Don't let it get to that point. Even advanced big mountain climbers who've never had AMS or other symptoms can have it suddenly occur at any moment. I hope you enjoy your trips out and make sure you check out the Tetons, Wind Rivers, and Bighorn ranges in Wyoming as well!
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby Catamount » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:16 pm

Hey Biscut -

My background is similar to yours in terms of a lot of Northeast hiking leading to wishes to climb higher. My first time above 12K in 2006 resulted in a bit of altitude sickness and a turn-around. Since then, it has been a process of learning my own body chemistry and finding out what works best for me. Obviously hydration is key and pace is also important during your first several days out West. I have had conversations with my doctor and have a Diamox prescription that I renew every year. I'll basically use it when I feel it will help me during my initial time at altitude and try to ween myself off of it as the trip goes on. On Rainier this year, I think I took 3 or 4 total tablets, then a couple on Gannett and then nothing on Granite. The big caveat with Diamox is that it is a diuretic so keeping yourself hydrated becomes doubly important. If your dosage is too high, you will almost certainly do yourself more harm than good.

But basically, everyone is different. You may find yourself with no issues at midling altitudes like we have in the lower 48. Good luck.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby kevin trieu » Sun Dec 30, 2012 7:31 am

asmrz wrote:For over 30 years, I lived at the sea level on Southern California coast. Almost every other weekend my partner and I would drive to eastern Sierra Friday night, sleep at the TH (5-7,000'), hike to 11,000 or 12,000 feet Saturday, climb a high Sierra peak and drive home to be at work Monday morning. How did that work?

Well we got to know our bodies well. You might be Olympic quality athlete in elevation, but you might not know it, it is genetic and (generally) not much you can do about it. You need to find out how well you do at elevation.

So go to elevation and observe your reaction. At the begining, a slight headache and tiredness at (lets say 11,000') will be normal. Drink plenty of fluids (2-3 quarts a day or more), don't rush the first few trips, but most importantly, observe your body reaction to altitude. If you do well, start pushing it. Faster up hill rate, push your body a bit more, observe. If you are more or less ok after strenuous uphill effort to get to cc 12,000' the first day, you are OK in general.

Once you are comfortable knowing that your response to altitude is pretty even, a whole world of the high hills will be open to you.

BTW most of us do not feel much until we get to (let's say) 9-10,000', so you'll need to hike in mountains that are at least that elevation. Be slow about it at the begining, but don't be afraid of it, unless you suspect something about yourself that we don't know about.

It does not hurt to be in very good physical condition. Being in top shape does not quarantee you good results in elevation, but well conditioned body performs better in general.

To train for higher mountains (above 22,000'), there are ways and devices to restrict your oxygen intake while jogging, hiking and training. But that is most likely a different subject.

can't get better advice than that.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby Biscut » Mon Dec 31, 2012 3:09 pm

Thank you all for the advice. I can't wait to get out there and see how it goes.
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Re: Advice on Altitude Prep

Postby IvanBraunDK » Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:11 am

3 simple advises:
water, water and then some more water.
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