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Ways to lessen effects of altitude if unable to acclimatize

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Ways to lessen effects of altitude if unable to acclimatize

Postby mambwe » Tue May 25, 2010 4:27 pm

I'm going to Colorado for a business trip and plan on a couple hikes in the Rockies. I'm from New York and the highest elevation I have been is 6,288 ft at Mt Washington. I'm going with a friend who has also never been above 10,000 ft. We will be in Colorado 3 days before we plan on hiking, but given this is a business trip I don't have any time to acclimatize for the 3 days before the hike. Is there anything we can do before/during the hike to avoid altitude sickness? I've read that drinking a lot of water helps. I know we can't avoid it completely and won't know how it will affect us, but is there anyway to lessen the effect is will have on us? We both understand if we get any symptoms we will start heading back down the mountain. Safety 1st!

Thanks.
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Postby peladoboton » Tue May 25, 2010 5:17 pm

Diamox works for me, but there was one time it and all of the hydrating I did were NOT enough, and pushing through was not the option, as I painfully found out.
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Postby Kai » Tue May 25, 2010 6:58 pm

Lots of water

No caffiene or alcohol

aspirin

garlic (best if taken for a while before the trip)
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Postby fatdad » Tue May 25, 2010 7:44 pm

Since you're just day hiking, you'll be fine. Just hydrate, like everyone's said. When hiking, just pace yourself accordingly. From what I've read, most incidences of sickness in the lower 48 arise while sleeping, when your breathing becomes shallower and your body isn't breathing harder to compensate for lack of oxygen, like you do when hiking.

I wouldn't worry about being from NY either. I'm from LA and have hiked up Whitney, San Gorgonio (11,499') and other Sierra peaks in a day without problems. I'd also enjoy a beer after your hikes. Gotta to enjoy that time off. You're going to the mountains, not a monastery.
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Postby rhyang » Tue May 25, 2010 8:00 pm

People vary in their reaction to altitude for reasons that are not well understood, ie. genetics. Some people get sick at 8000' and others don't even seem to feel it until 14000'.

Some things that usually help -

- hydrate frequently
- go slow, take more breaks than you might otherwise
- urinate frequently (this helps blood chemistry adapt)
- sleep at 7000' or above the night before

Definitely turn around if you don't feel well.

I usually start to slow down a lot at ~9500'. Usually if I'm going to be above 11 or 12 thousand feet I prefer to sleep high the night before, especially with a full pack. The worst AMS I ever got was hiking a full pack up to 12000' in the Palisades after sleeping near Bishop at 4000' the night before -- dizzyness, nausea, etc. My hiking partner on the other hand had no issues. These are things you have to sort out for yourself.
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Postby Hyadventure » Tue May 25, 2010 8:23 pm

I did that last weekend. Home is at about 300’. I flew to Denver Thursday morning and spent two nights there. Climbed above 14k Saturday. Slept near 10k Saturday night and climbed above 14k on Sunday with no real problems. I felt stronger on Sunday; just try sleep/stay as high as you can. Try ginkgo for a week prior, it might help too.
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Postby BigMitch » Tue May 25, 2010 10:11 pm

This topic comes up frequently on this forum.

I always suggest doing some hard interval work outs (bike, run, row, swim, etc.) before you go to develop a high VO2Max. The higher the VO2max, the less the effect of altitude, at least for me.
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Postby drpw » Wed May 26, 2010 4:29 am

fatdad wrote:I wouldn't worry about being from NY either. I'm from LA and have hiked up Whitney, San Gorgonio (11,499') and other Sierra peaks in a day without problems.


Yeah, I live at 100' above sea level and am fine at altitude so I wouldn't worry too much about. In fact, the more conscious you are of it the more it will afect you I bet.
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Postby Ze » Wed May 26, 2010 5:08 am

BigMitch wrote:This topic comes up frequently on this forum.

I always suggest doing some hard interval work outs (bike, run, row, swim, etc.) before you go to develop a high VO2Max. The higher the VO2max, the less the effect of altitude, at least for me.


it's not about cardiovascular fitness per se. VO2max is not a great indicator of cardiovascular fitness, there are much better tests for that.

what is important about the commonly used VO2max (ml/kg/min) measurement is that it is scaled by bodyweight. a loss in bodyweight will do two things.

1) it will reduce the workload & energy required while hiking --> reduce oxygen consumption needed --> reduce AMS

2) it will increase VO2max by decreasing the denominator.

lose excess weight

increase strength of respiratory muscles
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Postby mambwe » Wed May 26, 2010 1:34 pm

Wow, Thanks for all of the responses. We will be doing day hikes, so that does make me feel better. We are both in good shape, although I do have some weight I could lose. I'm a triathlete and currently training for a Half-Ironman. But, I know this doesn't exactly translate into no AMS. I'm definitely going to keep an eye on water & food consumption to minimize the effects of AMS.
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Postby KathyW » Wed May 26, 2010 1:37 pm

I've flown from 900' elevation in California to Denver and then went to 14,000' the following morning several times. I always struggle by the time I get to 11,000', but it's just a matter of moving slowly and drinking as much as possible. As everyone else said, if you're going up and down in one day you have a good shot at doing it as long as you don't push too hard.
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Postby welle » Wed May 26, 2010 3:36 pm

c'mon, people - diamox? people fly from NY to ski in Colorado all the time, without a luxury of spending 3 days above 5000 ft (I'm assuming you'll be in Denver?), and nobody has died yet. Isn't A-basin's base elevation is about 10,000 ft? You'll be a bit out of breadth and slower than locals, but as many have said above just pace yourself (even if you are feeling good don't sprint up) - it's not a race, drink a lot of water, snack often and get enough sleep.
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Postby CClaude » Wed May 26, 2010 8:34 pm

welle wrote:c'mon, people - diamox? people fly from NY to ski in Colorado all the time, without a luxury of spending 3 days above 5000 ft (I'm assuming you'll be in Denver?), and nobody has died yet. Isn't A-basin's base elevation is about 10,000 ft? You'll be a bit out of breadth and slower than locals, but as many have said above just pace yourself (even if you are feeling good don't sprint up) - it's not a race, drink a lot of water, snack often and get enough sleep.


And its actually pretty frequent that people get altitude sickness some fairly severe at those altitudes to various degrees.

Use the advise given but if you do feel sick, do drop lower in altitude.

As a point of reference, when I was at a university in Tokyo, my students and I hiked Mt Fuji (3776m or 12,380ft). I went up and tagged the summit twice (once for sunset by myself and the other by sunrisewith a bunch of my students). By the time I got back to the 8th station at 3100m/10,200ft, one of my students who had decided to stay behind (at the time my Japanese sucked much more then it does now, so I didn't understand what he was talking about) had full blown altitude sickness. By the time I got him to turn around and go down, he was coughing up blood.
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Postby sneakyracer » Thu May 27, 2010 1:06 am

If you are going to be around the Denver area for 2-3 days before hiking you will be fine. Denver is at about 5-6K FT. I ussually stay in Denver for 2-3 days before heading to the resorts (8-10k sleeping altitude). At the resorts I start to feel the altitude at about 12-13k feet. I felt fine and could hike with skis at that altitude no problem but I definately felt a bit more winded than average. Take it easy in Denver, avoid alcohol and drink plenty of water.
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