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How's my acclimation plan sound?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby carl9son » Tue May 22, 2012 10:40 am

What I'm starting with: I live in MN around 1,000 ft above sea level, probably fall into the "very active" category in terms of conditioning (regular running, backpacking, kayaking), and will be in Denver for work mid-June. I have a few days during the weekend to hike with a friend who lives there, and I'd like to climb a moderate 14er but am concerned about avoiding altitude sickness. I don't feel I'd be particularly prone to it, but I honestly won't know until I'm there.

To that end, tell me if this sounds reasonable: Will spend Thursday night in Lakewood, which I believe is between 5-6,000 ft. The next day (Friday) I thought I'd do Mt. Ida or something around that height to further acclimate. I'll have the whole day to myself and nothing to do, so I don't mind making the drive out there if the road is open. On day 3 (Saturday) I'm hoping to climb a 14er along with said friend.

Am I trying for too much here? That is, will a lengthy out-and-back on Mt. Ida (or somewhere, I'm open to suggestion) be helpful for the following day's 14er, or could it have the opposite effect?

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby MtHurd » Tue May 22, 2012 10:50 am

It's all about genetics. I've been driving from 600 ft. for 30 years and never had any problems climbing a 14er the next day sometimes with no sleep. I think your plan is good. My 14er recommendation for the biggest bang for the buck on a moderate 14er would be Yale. Some nice easy scrambling near the summit and a spectacular view. If you want a funner climb but increase from moderate to more difficult, do Kelso Ridge on Torreys. Lots of nice fun scrambling and easy access from Denver.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby DaveSwink » Tue May 22, 2012 10:54 am

Twin Sisters in RMNP would be a bit lower and easier for an acclimatization climb.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby mtree » Tue May 22, 2012 10:59 am

Your plan sounds fine, but it probably won't matter much over the course of just a couple days. Depending on your 14er of choice, hiking the previous day could wear you out a bit for the next day's climb. Stay really well hydrated (as in, water) and pack some Ibuprofen or whatever. Colorado's low humidity is commonly overlooked. The higher your altitude, the more this becomes an issue. Keep drinking water. Hopefully your friend could recognize any signs of altitude sickness. That's the big unknown. Choose your peak wisely. In other words, I wouldn't recommend attempting the Maroon Bells on this trip. Otherwise, if you're in decent physical shape, don't worry and have fun. Just take your time. I met a hiker in January while attempting Quandary Peak and he did fine. It was only his second day in Colorado and he was from Tennessee.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby Redleg Bruce » Tue May 22, 2012 11:09 am

I don't believe that an acclimatization hike is at all necessary as I used to live at 780' and would drive to CO straight to 10,000' and spend 48 to 72 hours above 10,000' with no issues. That said, everyone responds to altitude differently and you may need a day to acclimatize. Just going for a 5K run in Denver may be the best way to acclimatize as opposed to heading up to 13,000 feet, namely because the air at 13,000' isn't much different than it is at 14,000'.

If you want to do an acclimatization hike and aren't dead set on going all the way to Estes Park and RMNP then I highly recommend the Indian Peaks Wilderness. It is far closer than RMNP and is an incredibly beautiful area. There is a low 13er, Mt. Audubon, that is a super easy 8 mile round trip hike. I reccommend that over Ida as if you are going to 12,880 you might as well make it 13,221 and bag a 13er AND a 14er while in CO.

As for which 14er you should climb, I haven't done any near Denver so I won't offer any advice on that.

Any way you look at it it's just my $0.02. Whatever you end up doing, have a blast and make the most of your time!
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby colokeith » Tue May 22, 2012 11:10 am

I think being "very active" gives you a big leg up, on acclimatization. I think it is very dooable climb a 14er after being here for a few days. You may encounter altitude sickness, and you may be fine.

I would avoid alcohol and caffeine, make sure you are well rested. I think good rest will probably help you much more than a strenuous hike up Ida the day before. I would suggest driving to a high altitude (pikes peak, evans, trail ridge road) Then do an hour or so of hiking around to get used to the altitude. Or just go to one of the mountain towns, and explore (leadville is ~10K ft in altitude).
Last edited by colokeith on Tue May 22, 2012 1:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby djkest » Tue May 22, 2012 11:45 am

colokeith wrote:I would avoid alcohol and caffeine


I disagree on the caffeine standpoint. If you regularly take in caffeine you will have some withdrawl from not having some. Also, regular caffeine drinkers are less effected (dehydration) than occasional users. Also note that a lot of energy gels and shot blocks contain caffeine now.

Besides that your plan sounds pretty solid, but some of the other advice here is worth noting- as in not wearing yourself out too much.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby Jim Davies » Tue May 22, 2012 1:14 pm

colokeith wrote:I think being "very active" gives you a big leg up, on acclimatization.

Nope. It's exactly the opposite, in fact, since fit people tend to push themselves too hard. The extra day may help, but thousands of people per year go from Front Range cities to the 14ers in a day and get away with it, and you probably will also no matter what you do. Stay hydrated and well-fed, dress in layers, and listen to your body if it's telling you to descend.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby colokeith » Tue May 22, 2012 1:20 pm

djkest wrote:
colokeith wrote:I would avoid alcohol and caffeine


I disagree on the caffeine standpoint. If you regularly take in caffeine you will have some withdrawl from not having some. Also, regular caffeine drinkers are less effected (dehydration) than occasional users. Also note that a lot of energy gels and shot blocks contain caffeine now.

Besides that your plan sounds pretty solid, but some of the other advice here is worth noting- as in not wearing yourself out too much.


Looks like you are correct!! I had always heard to avoid it
http://www.altitudemedicine.org/publications/Caffeine%20at%20High%20Altitude.pdf
To climb is to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible. If your stamina, skill, and luck are sound you will get to stand on top. ... I realized that with climbing, I'd found something that nourished my soul and could forge me into a better version myself - Jim Davidson

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby djkest » Tue May 22, 2012 1:39 pm

colokeith wrote:
djkest wrote:
colokeith wrote:I would avoid alcohol and caffeine


I disagree on the caffeine standpoint. If you regularly take in caffeine you will have some withdrawl from not having some. Also, regular caffeine drinkers are less effected (dehydration) than occasional users. Also note that a lot of energy gels and shot blocks contain caffeine now.

Besides that your plan sounds pretty solid, but some of the other advice here is worth noting- as in not wearing yourself out too much.


Looks like you are correct!! I had always heard to avoid it
http://www.altitudemedicine.org/publications/Caffeine%20at%20High%20Altitude.pdf


That's pretty cool! I'd never actually read that study, but someone on 14ers.com I think passed the info along. Thanks for digging it up.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby carl9son » Tue May 22, 2012 2:59 pm

You guys are awesome. Can't believe all the helpful responses.

I think I'm living in the wrong state... =D>

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby kushrocks » Tue May 22, 2012 3:16 pm

carl9son wrote:You guys are awesome. Can't believe all the helpful responses.

I think I'm living in the wrong state... =D>


Yes you are. I moved out here from Minnesota as well. I lived in Minnesota and North Dakota for 8 years before I moved here. It was great there . . . .in the summer. I enjoy going back to visit but I freaking love living in Colorado.
Last edited by kushrocks on Tue May 22, 2012 3:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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