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Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby JeffR » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:11 pm

NCTRAD wrote:If no storms in the area would 1 or 2pm start time be too risky?

"No storms in the area" shouldn't be used as a predictor of weather, as the mountains create their own weather and stormclouds can appear in minutes. And especially during the monsoon, when afternoon storms occur more often than not. Of course there are many days without a cloud in the sky, but generally any start time that will keep you above treeline much past 12 or 1 is not a good idea.
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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby climbingaggie03 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:56 pm

get a scrip for diamox! (Acetazolamide) it won't help you go any faster, but it'll almost guarantee that you won't have any AMS issues, especially if you're fit.

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby MountainMedic » Wed Jul 03, 2013 10:37 pm

The two of you will have a great time. I really wouldn't worry too much, although I'd make an effort to spend some time above 12K on Tuesday to make Longs a little easier. Unfortunately, fitness doesn't really have anything to do with how well you handle altitude (BMI does). That said, fitness will obviously help on any strenuous hike. I wouldn't waste time with the Diamox - it's a pain to get and use, and at this altitude, the side effects (hand numbness and tingling in ~30%) will likely outweigh the benefits. Hydrating a ton has a similar effect (facilitates removal of bicarbonate and stimulates hypoxic ventilatory response). I'd say it's a good idea to do G and T before Longs just to get used to the altitude. You can get down quickly (compared to a long and miserable slog out if you get altitude sickness on Longs). You're smart to do them all during the week, though - avoid those awful crowds.

If day hiking all 15 miles of Longs and you're moderately fast, 2-3 AM would be a reasonable start time.

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby pvnisher » Thu Jul 04, 2013 1:56 am

Diamox? For a low altitude CO peak? Are you nuts? Might as well hire some Sherpa... :roll:

I second others and say resting the day before (at altitude if you can) is better than doing a high hike and being tired/sore for your main objective.

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby bigredmachine » Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:56 am

Will be staying in Breckenridge Thurs night. Would an afternoon shot at Quandry be possible. If no storms in the area would 1 or 2pm start time be too risky?[/quote]

I'd recommend democrat or lincoln over quandary (10 minutes further south), you could get off the mountain quicker if needed

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby Urban Snowshoer » Thu Jul 04, 2013 3:44 pm

NCTRAD wrote:Thank you all for taking the time to provide some great responses. I have to say that when I post on Mountain Project and other technical climbing forums the members are not so helpful. This 14er group seems to be pretty cool. Well here is what I am going to try. Twin Sisters on Monday afternoon weather permitting. Bear Lake to Fern Lake on Tuesday morning. Longs on Wednesday. Chasm Lake sounds awesome, but no way I could be that close to Longs summit and not go ahead and push for it. I will let you know how it works out. I did build in Thurs as a backup day for Longs in the event it bad weather, but I dont want to use it as it screws up the rest of my schedule. Will be staying in Breckenridge Thurs night. Would an afternoon shot at Quandry be possible. If no storms in the area would 1 or 2pm start time be too risky?

As many other posts have said, Colorado mountain weather is pretty unpredictable (especially this time of year). The absence of storms in the present is hardly an indicator that you won't get storms later in the day, or even in an hour or two.

Quandary is one of the least difficult fourteeners to climb; however, you are still probably looking at least a couple of hours to get to the summit from the trailhead. I have certainly seen weather sock-in in the early to mid-morning, but the afternoon is, by far, the most common time for thunderstorms. It follows that starting at 1 or 2 in the afternoon puts you in the prime danger zone, for being caught above treeline.

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby stefan_SCHWEIZER » Fri Jul 05, 2013 2:34 pm

I agree with the previous posts in that I would do Longs only after 4 days at 8000 ft. I live on sea level and I camped in the park for 4 days before going up Longs. You can hike up Flattop or Hallets Peak for training. You can also drive up to the Continental Divide and hike at 12000 for a day and then go back and sleep at 8000. When you climb Longs the keyhole is probably a good place to see how you feel and then make a decision whether to continue. Have fun....

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby HannahBearCO » Mon Jul 08, 2013 7:23 pm

Stop at any wal-mart, kroger, King Sooper, Rite-Aid or Wal-green's and pick up a few bottles of Ginkgo Biloba ($6 a bottle or so). Take 100 mg a day (usually 2, 50mg tablets, or 60mg tablets will work, one in the morning one in the evening) starting 3 days before your hike/climb. Take ibuprofen 600mg tablets 3 times daily with the ginkgo, 3 days before your hike and including the day of your hike. hydrate daily, 2.2 liters or more, and if you drink caffeine in the form of soda, tea, coffee...don't stop doing it, just reduce the quantity, but on the day of your hike make sure you get a cup, or can or bottle in of caffeinated beverage before your hike and then hydrate frequently with water! It will keep the Altitude Sickness away.

I did this for Mt. Bierstadt last weekend and it worked flawlessly!

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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby DeTour » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:55 pm

+1 to the Diamox, even for a "low altitude CO peak." Pvnisher is showing his elitism. Traveling from NC to climb any 14er is ample justification for Diamox. It just speeds the body's acclimation to altitude, lots of discussion of it if you search the forum.

Longs is a grind, with the long approach and a substantial stretch of class 2-3 scrambling past the keyhole. It wears you down. I'd be careful about not overdoing your acclimation hikes. Even in excellent overall shape, is your body acclimated to the unique wear & tear of long downclimbs?

A thought on Quandary, if it's you and your son: take the West Ridge route. Much more sporting than the standard east ridge.

Longs was my first 14er, as it was for many, due to its popularity. Have a great time, stay safe, and be sure to post a TR!
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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby TravDoc » Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:02 am

If you're dead set on longs, which I understand you probably have your reasons, I think you'll be fine. But please do these couple of things.

- Do the standard route, class 3. It's great to have 5.10 experience, but it really is different at 12,000+ feet. This route is a haul at around 15 miles, but it is also rewarding.

- Start EARLY, if you end up summitting early, you get to watch the sunrise over the Rockies. Be off the summit and below tree line by 12.

- Drink 1 gallon of water a day for three days before the climb day, your body will get acclimated WAY faster if it's properly hydrated

I recently moved back to Colorado from Jacksonville, NC and tried a climb 2 days later. Believe me, I wish I would have followed that third bullet point! Enjoy the climb!


Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby Steve Climber » Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:56 am

TravDoc wrote:- Start EARLY, if you end up summitting early, you get to watch the sunrise over the Rockies. Be off the summit and below tree line by 12

Not to be a geo-nazi, but depending on where you're at on Longs you either get sunrise through trees, or over the plains :wink: though there are some nice foothills.

I agree with being off summit and toward tree line as early as possible though.
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Re: Longs Peak - Altitude Prep

Postby Dark Helmet » Fri Jul 12, 2013 12:45 pm

aboynamedmargrette wrote:If you are determined to make Longs your 1st and opposed to topping out any other 14ers until then, I would suggest hiking Twin Sisters (spectacular views of Longs), Chasm Lake, etc...stuff at elevation, and better yet, on or around Longs. Chasm Lake is SERIOUSLY WELL worth the hike and not part of the Keyhole Route (I'm assuming that would be your route) so not a view you would see otherwise...It will also give you a good preview of the lower sections of Keyhole route too. You can start a little later in the morning and check out the trail in daylight so if you go back up in early a.m. darkness, you will be more familiar.

Chasm is my go-to hike that I take most out of state friends and family to when they want to hike and see something amazing... I haven't ever had anyone have altitude issues yet.


Chasm is the best hike I've ever done... I can't see myself getting tired of those views before i die.


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