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Acclimating

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Acclimating

Postby strongmelon » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:31 am

Motown Mike wrote:I
I bet really vigorous training offsets much of the altitude issue.


This seems to be common sense but turns out to be not correct.

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Re: Acclimating

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:35 am

Motown Mike wrote:I bet really vigorous training offsets much of the altitude issue.

From "Mountain Sickness" by Peter Hackett:
Physical conditioning has absolutely no influence on susceptibility. In fact, fit individuals tend to ascend faster and therefore may have a higher incidence.


His recommendations, briefly, are to not drive or fly to over 10000 feet (instead walk up from there), increase your sleeping altitude by no more than 1000 feet per day, climb higher than you sleep each day, and take an "acclimatization night" (i.e. sleep at the same altitude two nights in a row) every three days. Also drink enough fluid that your urine is clear, eat carbohydrates, and don't overexert (rest step, keep your pulse down to 135 or so).
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Re: Acclimating

Postby peter303 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:42 am

I'd vote for a couple nights sleeping Breckenridge (just up the road) or some other
9K area.
When I lived in CA coastal cities and climbed Whitney, it really help a lot to spend
a couple nights in Tuolumne or Mammoth before hand.

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Re: Acclimating

Postby strongmelon » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:44 am

Jim Davies wrote:From "Mountain Sickness" by Peter Hackett:


Fairly old reference but useful.

There have been several advances, notably in the drug realm: Ginko and Viagra come to mind.

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Re: Acclimating

Postby paul109876 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:04 pm

Also being a flatlander, my wife and I usually sleep around 8000-9000 ft. and during the day hike up higher. We do this for a couple of days and it works out fine.
Evans would be a good suggestion. Drive to the lot at the top, climb the last 100 feet or so.

Loveland Pass has several good trails to get you up and around 13K and is right off of I-70. Just don't over work your legs.

I agree with the Lot's=o=water but be sure to carb load as well. This will help you hold more water to stay hydrated plus give you plenty of fuel.
Be sure to hydrate well while hiking and keep nibbling on good food all the way up and down.

I'd also suggest while training at home about 8 weeks out start using a weighted pack on the treadmill, stairmaster, bleachers or what ever you do for cardio to build endurance in your leg muscles. 10 to 15 lbs in a pack should be enough for a day hike. Be sure to train for up and down climbing, on bleachers the up down is covered.
On treadmill I'll walk backwards to hit those muscles you use when coming down.

At least then you will not have to worrry about muscle soreness and your legs won't bonk on you
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Re: Acclimating

Postby Matt » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:50 pm

There have been several advances, notably in the drug realm: Ginko and Viagra come to mind.


Those are not all... Very few data exist to back up either of those in the context of this thread, but they may help some people. People may try whatever they wish to try, but hiking with a very expensive boner or relying on gingko for help seems like a waste to me, especially at Colorado's altitudes. There are other options out there...
Personally, gingko did squat for me, and there is a much better alternative (IMO) now available over the counter in the US, even at places like Whole Foods. Used as a prescription drug in Europe for decades, this actually does what people claim that ginkgo will do. Sure, wikipedia is a shoddy reference, but I've supplied it as a starting point for anyone interested in getting some benefit in acclimation via chemical means.
Another potentially helpful compound for acclimation is piracetam, also sold OTC in this country, after four decades of rx-only use in Europe.

One drug with solid evidence in preventing HAPE is salmeterol, which is used in Serevent and Advair diskus inhalers for asthma and COPD.
Here's the NEJM on the subject: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa013183
Prophylactic inhalation of a beta-adrenergic agonist reduces the risk of high-altitude pulmonary edema.

This article also has some brief discussion of the physiology of acclimation, referred to earlier in this thread. It's not all red blood cell count. After reading this several years ago, I was prescribed an albuterol inhaler (beta agonist) for a cough. I found it really useful in my own acclimation process, making irrelevant any worry of altitude problems on the initial 14ers of several summer "seasons." Whether any HAPE's being prevented, I can't say, but I sure do keep a better pace, if nothing else, d/t opening up my airway a bit more than usual. That's gotta be a good thing for most people. I keep one around nowadays for the first few high peaks each year, and am glad that I do.
Disclaimer: Discuss any such pharmacological help with your physician before ingesting anything s/he hasn't prescribed for you. :wink:
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Re: Acclimating

Postby winmag4582001 » Wed Feb 02, 2011 8:15 pm

My fourteen yearold son and I did Decalibron in the summer of 2010. After you make it to the top of Democrat, the remaining summits are easy. The worst by far is the descent from Bross back to the parking lot. Long and horrible, make sure you have perfect fitting hiking boots when coming down that. Coming down was actually harder than going up in my opinion. Also, I think the top of Bross is still posted as No Trespassing. Decalibron is not that sceinic either.
Again, IMO, a good prep hike would be Mt. Sherman or Mt. Audubon.
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Re: Acclimating

Postby nyker » Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:59 pm

Greenhorn,

As a fellow flatlander, I can offer some thoughts; If you or your siblings are not accustomed to climbing up high (i.e. exerting yourself at altitude)
I'd recommend sleeping in Denver the first night you arrive, then moving up to an intermediate altitude (8000ft or so), doing some light hiking there
for the day, keeping well hydrated and eating only familiar foods, particularly on your day of climbing.

Driving up and spending time on PIkes or Evans summit may help, but if you do it as soon as you get in, you're standing a fair chance of getting
some altitude related problems, which could impact your actual climb afterwards. Maybe spend some time in RMNP along Trail Ridge road for the day (you
can get to 12,000ft easy there) and see some great scenery.

If you have the time, go to Pikes the day after hiking at mid level altitudes and after a night or two at 8000ft. No, you're not going to be anywhere near
truly acclimatized in 3 days, but in my personal experience, this sort of schedule has helped me, rather than jumping onto a 14er after coming
in from sea level - I have done that before, but its unpleasant and I move too slowly to really enjoy the day.

When in doubt move slowly - nothing brings up altitude related problems more than speeding up a peak when your body is not acclimatized.

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Re: Acclimating

Postby greenhorn1 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:20 am

Matt wrote:
There have been several advances, notably in the drug realm: Ginko and Viagra come to mind.


Those are not all... Very few data exist to back up either of those in the context of this thread, but they may help some people. People may try whatever they wish to try, but hiking with a very expensive boner or relying on gingko for help seems like a waste to me, especially at Colorado's altitudes. There are other options out there...


Yes...Viagra...would a doctor even prescribe that for a woman? Just wondering how that would go down in the drs. office...
As for the inhaler, that's something interesting to know. One time I was given some "special" tea to help me climb in the Wind River Wilderness Range in WY. I was able to hike with no ill effects, whereas before I couldn't even sleep at that altitude.

winmag4582001 wrote:My fourteen yearold son and I did Decalibron in the summer of 2010. After you make it to the top of Democrat, the remaining summits are easy. The worst by far is the descent from Bross back to the parking lot. Long and horrible, make sure you have perfect fitting hiking boots when coming down that. Coming down was actually harder than going up in my opinion. Also, I think the top of Bross is still posted as No Trespassing. Decalibron is not that sceinic either.
Again, IMO, a good prep hike would be Mt. Sherman or Mt. Audubon.


Thanks for your input on this, I was also thinking it looked like a big rock pile myself. However, It's close to a big resort town that my family likes (i'm more of a Ouray/Buena Vista fan myself) and it gives me at least 3 peaks to have climbed. Also, if we don't kill our knees on the way down as mentioned then MAYBE I can talk them into Quandry peak in the next day or two.

To the other responses THANK YOU! This site really is excellent for advice and information and I'm using all of this to help prepare for this summer. Any additional comments will be appreciated. =D>
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Re: Acclimating

Postby peter303 » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:28 am

winmag4582001 wrote:The worst by far is the descent from Bross back to the parking lot. Long and horrible, make sure you have perfect fitting hiking boots when coming down that. Coming down was actually harder than going up in my opinion.

So I usually descend via Lincoln. It doesnt add all that much more time.

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Re: Acclimating

Postby jrbren_vt » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:40 am

I look at acclimatization as process that begins immediately upon being exposed to thinner air, and may take several weeks to complete depending on what altitude you are trying to acclimate to and what altitude you are presently acclimated to. From experience, I can acclimatize well enough to walk up and down hills for several hours with weight on my back at the 10K-14K' range (ie, effort to climb 14ers) and feel mostly normal after 3-4 days. Ascending faster then that I get some the "normal symptoms at altitude" listed in the below link, that as long as I taking care of myself, the symptoms diminish after a couple of days.

Most Trekking or climbing books/guides to the high altitude peaks or regions (like Mexico Volcanoes, Aconcagua, Nepal, India as examples) discuss acclimatization. A good example is the book Trekking in the Everest Region by Jamie McGuinness. He puts some info an this topic on line at:
http://www.project-himalaya.com/info-ams.html
Although the magnitude of the issues are quite a bit less for 14ers, much of what is written there is hopefully useful here. For me, any plan that involves taking drugs for anything other then an emergency is not one I would sign up for.
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Re: Acclimating

Postby Jim Davies » Fri Feb 04, 2011 9:45 am

peter303 wrote:So I usually descend via Lincoln. It doesnt add all that much more time.

If you mean "via the Cameron-Democrat saddle", then I do too. Easier on the knees, for sure.
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