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- Posts: 325
- Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:43 pm
- Location: Durango, co
I sometimes get short of breath and kinda of panic-y every now and then when I get up to high elevations. I'm in great shape and have climbed a bunch of mountains, mostly solo. It gets real bad if the wind picks up a lot, I get kind of claustrophobic, it's a strange feeling. I've never fainted or anything it just freaks me out for a little bit. Is this just lack of oxygen messing with me? Does anyone have any tricks or pills or suggestions? I live in Durango and typically I camp at least at 10k for a night to acclimate. Thanks for any helpful input.
- Posts: 15
- Joined: Thu May 31, 2007 3:43 am
- Location: Englewood, CO
I've read many good things about ginger for altitude sickness and anxiety. You can get drops for your water bottle. Sounds silly but some swear by it.
- Posts: 700
- Joined: Fri Feb 08, 2008 12:18 pm
- Location: Michigan
As a flatlander the altitude can be a factor when flying in from low elevation and expecting to climb the next day. I now take acetazolamide, so it is no longer a problem - controversial drug, but works wonders for me. Anyway, one year when I didn't use it, I climbed Shav / Tab earlly the next moring after a late afternoon flight into to Colorado. At the summit of Shavano, I was feeling the altitude. But being stubborn and being what seemed real close to Tab., I decided to push on, only 14K feet after all, right? By the time I got to the saddle I felt like I was on Everest. I stopped, and at rest heart was pounding just as fast as it could, I was sucking in air just as fast. At that moment at the saddle I realized I would have to ascend 600 feet of something and doing so in that state was not an option. I thought to myself, if I tried to run or jog right now I would pass out! I considered panicking, but I thought, just take a break for 5 minutes, so I did. I felt somewhat rejuvenated after that, enough to tackle Tab. which I did.
What happened was that after departing Shavano to embark for Tab., I thought if I go fast I will limit my exposure time at altitude and just bag it quick and then get down. Instead what I did was excascerbate the situation leading me to the pathetic condition I was at the saddle. On Kilimanjaro, the guides will constantly tell the clients "pol, pol", which means to slow down, and to their strategy allows more clients to summit. By slowing down you don't put as much demand on your altitude taxed pulmonary system.
So my advice to you? Just take a break or slow down if you feel altitude kicking in. -- Or try acetazolamide --
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2
- Posts: 24
- Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:04 pm
- Location: Longmont Colorado
I was on Mt Yale last weekend and got this feeling on the ridge to the summit with 50 MPH winds and a storm coming in. I have climbed several 14ers and get in the mountains every weekend, but it seems sometimes my mind plays tricks on me. I will usually find what I consider my "safe zone", which is an area without exposure or at least where I know I'm safe, and then I will eat something and drink some water. The food seems to RESET my mind and body by letting it know I'm ok. (I learned this trick from another 14ers.com member and it has helped tremendously) In the case of this last weekend I descended off the ridge and the steep snow and found a rock. I then sat on that rock drank some water and ate goldfish until my heart rate slowed. Climbing with partners always helps me too. I like to lead a hike until I feel like I'm in a weird situation where my mind is making me panic. I then just let someone else lead and concentrate on slow breaths until I'm back.
I usually get the panic feeling on exposure, but every now and then I get it just being up high. Try sitting down and "RESETTING YOUR MIND" with food or water. Also, try to sleep at a high elevation at least one night before the climb, more if you can.
Send me more details by PM if you get a chance as I am good at panicking...
- Posts: 759
- Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2012 4:25 pm
Little ball of fur.
Purr, purr, purr."
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring.
- Posts: 285
- Joined: Thu Aug 09, 2007 12:34 pm
- Location: Fort Collins, CO
- Posts: 786
- Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2011 3:34 pm
- Location: Thornton (CO Blvd & 136th Ave)
It could very well be the low oxygen messing with you, and the adrenaline already pumping from climbing a 14er. Panicky feelings and panic attacks are brought on by adrenaline. I know that feeling - though when I get it, it's usually in man-made environments and not in the outdoors/mountains - but I think the techniques for dealing with it are the same. Different people probably have different triggers.
I find the best thing to be taking very deep breaths and focusing only on breathing. Try not to think about anything else - not in a forceful way but if an unsettling thought comes into your head, just let it go. I have noticed that meditation at home helps a lot with this, and you can apply the basic concepts of it to different situations, like climbing.
Eliminate any negative thoughts in your head (sometimes a friend cracking a joke can help with this). Try to have a conversation with a friend about something funny or positive.
There is an herb called valerian root that is thought to reduce anxiety that you can buy in capsule form. That could help, if you took it before the hike. Also I agree with fevercity - ginger is great and can be used to treat a lot of problems: altitude sickness, motion sickness, upset stomach, indigestion, inflammation, etc.
As a chiropractor once told me, "Your head needs to control your body, not the other way around!"
Last edited by SilverLynx
on Fri Mar 15, 2013 9:32 am, edited 2 times in total.
"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
- Posts: 258
- Joined: Thu Apr 22, 2010 12:42 pm
- Location: Boulder, CO
I can completely relate!
I notice that we are similar in:
1. Number of peaks climbed;
2. Usually climb solo; and
3. Wind seems to invoke panic.
I am learning that gaining experience, AND getting out with others who are more advanced (and have PATIENCE), is helping me tremendously with the same issues. For me, it boils down to confidence and gaining of knowledge. I am sure the more I climb (and expose myself to exposure) I am building confidence and having fun! I now make myself stop and look down, or look over the edge and then go through it all – what really makes me panic vs. the fact that I am on solid footing and have a good hand hold, etc. Regarding the wind, I seem to get over that factor by stuffing ear plugs in my ears (Ipod) or pull my hat/hood over ears as best I can, so I can’t hear it – but this issue is subsiding the more I am in the wind.
I have also been climbing indoors for a number of reasons, but this helps with the height/exposure confidence as well.
Keep it up and I think you will begin to work through it in your own ways as you continue to build confidence re: mountaineering! Good luck.
- Posts: 398
- Joined: Tue Feb 26, 2008 4:22 pm
- Location: highlands ranch, co
Smoke a ton of weed at the trailhead, by the time you get up high, you'll no longer be stoned but you'll have been fully paranoid for about 3 hours already, so the transition should be seamless.
- Posts: 239
- Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2005 12:16 pm
Just make sure you have Sativa.
- Posts: 766
- Joined: Mon Dec 31, 2007 5:24 pm
SchralpTheGnar wrote:Smoke a ton of weed at the trailhead, by the time you get up high, you'll no longer be stoned but you'll have been fully paranoid for about 3 hours already, so the transition should be seamless.
Dave B wrote:And/or line thy helmet with tin foil and realize this is a freaking mountaineering website.
Steve Climber wrote:So that's your backpack, huh?
- Posts: 325
- Joined: Wed Feb 17, 2010 4:43 pm
- Location: Durango, co
Thanks for the insight. Usually I save the "puffing" until after I get down safely, at camp or on the couch, but thanks. The Ginger is a good call, Plus I should have plenty of that since I love Jack and Ginger around the fire at camp the night before a hike/climb... I will look into that pill that might help ease my mind as well. I would say that 2 of of 10 mountains I climb I get a little anxious, panic-y and this happens so I'm not too overly concerned, but I thought I would throw this out there. I usually do all these things mentioned, slow down, tell my brain that i'm ok, put tunes on, look around and enjoy. What usually get's me back in the right state of mind is saying in my head "THIS IS WHAT YOU MOVED HERE FOR, ENJOY IT.." I was a mortgage broker in downtown Atlanta for a while, urgh. Since I'm the only one of my friends that own a dirtbike, I have climbed more mountains than ALL my friends (14ers, 13ers, 12ers, 11ers, CO trail etc), so I AM the one with the experience, and I like it that way... Anyways, thanks for the valuable insight and i'll be happy to listen to some more suggestions. If you were referring to Widespreaad Panic, WSMFP! I graduated from UGA in Athens, so they are my favorite band and I always have some surprise valley crankin on my hikes, "kiss the mountain air we breathe.." thanks again y'all. happy friday!
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