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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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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby peter303 » Tue May 22, 2012 3:16 pm

Can you sleep a couple nights in Breckenridge or Leadville? that would really help. When I lived in S.F./L.A. I found a couple nights sleeping Tuolumne or similar really helped with their 14ers.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby carl9son » Tue May 22, 2012 3:41 pm

Oh, and one more question (although this is likely the wrong forum for it). I did some checking and it appears there was less snowfall than normal this winter. What's everybody's prediction about snow remaining on 13ers and 14ers around mid-June?

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby djkest » Tue May 22, 2012 3:43 pm

carl9son wrote:Oh, and one more question (although this is likely the wrong forum for it). I did some checking and it appears there was less snowfall than normal this winter. What's everybody's prediction about snow remaining on 13ers and 14ers around mid-June?


Looks like current snow conditions are about 1 month ahead of schedule for melting. So, with some exceptions, mid-June conditions should be similar to a normal early-to-mid July. Depends which 14ers you can look at, but you can always look for updated conditions reports to make last minute decisions.
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby MuchosPixels » Tue May 22, 2012 9:50 pm

I have been above 14k only three times. But the BEST time I felt at that altitude was after 6 days skiing in Breck. I went up Pikes after that and I was like it was close to sea level really. I felt great. I passed people up Barr Trail that were gasping for air. It made the trail MUCH more enjoyable. (I also avoided any alcohol while on Breck, yeah I know, tough to do, but it helped)

Regarding snow, there is very little snow on all west facing and south slopes. There is most likely only snow on east to north facing couloirs above 10k ft and in the usual shaded spots that collect snow. Like it has been said, its like 4-6 weeks ahead of the usual schedule.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby audiotom » Tue May 22, 2012 10:58 pm

I come from New Orleans at sea level and never seem to have acclimatzation issues. - I am 51

2008 rafted the Arkansas then climbed Handies and Sneffles

2010. Arrived from airport, slept in my car at summit of Evans, skied A Basin next day then stayed in leadville and did elbert

In the fall did a day in denver, dillion climb Quandry

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby HighCountry_Tiger » Wed May 23, 2012 1:03 am

This is always such a hard thing to predict, truly acclimating takes months. Personally (based on a good bit of research and experience) I think there won't be much difference in going up a 14er on day one as compared to day three. Basically in this time your body will be pumping out reticulocytes (immature RBCs) and this maxes out around 7 days. This will help get a little more O2 circulating around. Also your plasma volume will decrease in this time which is why it is important to hydrate a lot. There is also Diamox (unless you have an allergy to Sulfa) which can help to regulate your blood to a more "normal" state.

When you say you are prone to altitude sickness, what do you mean? Being a little light headed and short of breath is to be expected and normal. Being confused and having blurry vision and having a really bad headache isn't normal. How about driving up Mt Evans road or up to Pikes Peak and chilling for a few hours to see how you feel.

Also this is a pretty good article on acclimatization: http://pmj.bmj.com/content/84/998/622.full.pdf+html

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby peter303 » Wed May 23, 2012 7:55 am

HighCountry_Tiger wrote: I think there won't be much difference in going up a 14er on day one as compared to day three.

Incorrect. The numerous anecdotes in this and other threads show peoople are different. Some supermen have no problems. Others are lethargic their first few days in ski country. And many have testified a couple days sleeping high have greatly helped.

One will know where they fit in after a trip or two.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby carl9son » Wed May 30, 2012 4:15 pm

Looks like my plans have changed. My hiking partner won't be available until the afternoon of the day we had planned to do a 14er. Everything I read indicates this would be a poor decision due to lightning hazard during regular afternoon thunderstorms.

So two questions:

1. Thunderstorms above treeline - is this literally an everyday occurrence and, if not, is attempting an afternoon summit of a 14er worth the risk?
2. Can you recommend a good afternoon hike with less exposure but interesting terrain? I was looking at Lost Creek Wilderness but even those peaks are above treeline. Still planning to do Mt. Audubon on Friday, but need a Saturday afternoon destination.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby Jim Davies » Wed May 30, 2012 5:34 pm

No, it doesn't thunderstorm everyday - many afternoons there is some cloud buildup that never materializes into a storm, other days it's bluebird all day long, some days it storms and then clears off by mid-afternoon and then is perfect the rest of the day. The bluebird days are often predictable by looking at the point forecast from weather.gov the day before.

"The weather is unpredictable" is something that's said by people who aren't getting the right forecast. If NOAA says there's a near-zero chance of precip tomorrow on your mountain, then you can rely on that (although you should still watch the sky and bail if you see something coming). You might consider driving to your trailhead, but having an alternative hike in mind in case it's stormy. I'd have no qualms about hiking up a canyon to a waterfall when it's threatening, provided you're carrying rain gear and extra layers for warmth in case you get wet. For example, you could plan on hiking Quandary, but go instead for Mohawk Lakes if the weather doesn't look good enough.

For what it's worth, Saturday afternoon looks so-so in the near-Denver easy 14er zone, but Sunday is looking near-perfect. I'd make some excuse to stay around an extra day, if I were you. :mrgreen:
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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu May 31, 2012 7:46 am

If you are forced to climb on specific days (like weekends), then yes, you will be at the mercy of the weather. If you can pick your days, then the NOAA point forecasts can help you choose days when it's unlikely to thunderstorm. I haven't been caught by a thunderstorm above timberline in years, FWIW, and I like late starts. :)

Sunday's still looking better than Saturday.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

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Re: How's my acclimation plan sound?

Postby linuxsurfer » Thu Jun 14, 2012 7:38 pm

Drive up to Idaho Springs and drive up Mt Evans to help with getting used to the altitude. That's a 14er that you can drive up and see how you feel.

Don't chance the weather when hiking in CO...thunderstorms can come up VERY quickly and you don't want to be stuck above treeline if lightning starts. Every time that I have been on a 14er and I'm on the way down, and clouds are rapidly forming, I just shake my head at the people who are just starting up.

Then again, I'm probably close to the MCD Cheeseburger being "not worth the risk". Have a great one :)

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