Newb to elevation

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
Forum rules
Please do not use this forum to advertise, sell photos or other products or promote a commercial website. For more details, please see the Terms of Use you agreed to when joining the forum.
Rick Canter
Posts: 89
Joined: 7/8/2012
14ers: 31
13ers: 6
Trip Reports (13)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Rick Canter » Mon Mar 15, 2021 8:14 am

I was surprised to find myself woozy on Guadalupe Peak, TX at only 8700' on a warm day, convinced it was at least as much acclimation as heat/dehydration.

+1 with Osprey. Act as if altitude is a drug, a downer, and you don't mix drugs, right? Esp. two downers together, so no alcohol, downers, uppers, dehydration. I even avoid tea. Acclimation is hard, why make it harder than it already is?

I live at 410', and have taken about 15 trips to Colorado to summit peaks. What works? Water, water, water and some Gatorade perhaps. Diamox helps if you are not allergic to sulfa drugs...consider talking to a doctor now. Consider Gingko Biloba the month before your trip. For me, the jury is out on canned oxygen, it never seemed to help me personally. I have heard of, and to some degree ascribe to, the following pattern: no higher than 8000' the first day, then on successive days 10000', 12000', 13000, and 14000'. You can break the rule, but you want it to be fun too, right?...
User avatar
Hiking_TheRockies
Posts: 66
Joined: 11/11/2020
14ers: 5
13ers: 3
Trip Reports (2)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Hiking_TheRockies » Mon Mar 15, 2021 11:20 am

I'd recommend staying away from places over 10,000', if you've had some altitude sickness at 5000'. There are great hikes in the front range, in places like Golden Gate Canyon State Park, around Boulder, and near Colorado Springs that don't have a lot of elevation gain and are very beautiful, nice hikes. I don't recommend going for small peaks, or even hikes that go high up, like over passes, because you will be at a high elevation for a long amount of time. Before you do hikes, make sure to do research on them so you can know what you will be hiking and if the hike may go to high of an elevation for you. Bring tons of water on any hikes you go on, as well as plenty of food. Always be ready to turn around if you feel some Elevation Sickness. Another thing to note is the classic motto "Climb high, sleep low", it is essential to getting used to high elevations. What it means is to sleep at a lower elevation than you climbed that day. And one final thing, make sure to not rush yourself. Not feeling great at high elevations is not something only you experience, thousands of people who move to Colorado or come to visit experience elevation sickness. Just slowly work your way up to higher elevations, and you will get acclimated.

Good luck on your adventures here in Colorado. Happy trails!
"The best views come after the hardest climbs"
ltlFish99
Posts: 371
Joined: 5/22/2019
14ers: 40 2 2
13ers: 51

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by ltlFish99 » Mon Mar 15, 2021 6:50 pm

+1 on the avoid alcohol recommendation. It will dehydrate people.
+1 on the water, water, and more water/ Gatorade reccomendation.
I prefer gatorade, lots of it.
People who used to come to denver to work st the company I was at mostly came from sea level.
They found aspirin to help in the beginning of thier denver experience.
I have read that aspirin can help as it is a blood thinner. I know a few people who utilize it in advance of going higher than they live.
Personally, I also avoid caffeine as it dehydrates me, and makes it much harder for me to sleep.
If independence pass is open, +1 on that recommendation. Lots of cool short trails in that area, also trail ridge road in rmnp is very nice.
One does gain altitude quicker driving up a pass, obviously this can be a negative.
But one can also just go back down whenever, if the need arises.
I like the high passes as it provides safe access to higher altitude, with a safe, quick escape route.
And if one is feeling good, they also provide some cool, fun things to do in visitor centers, short hikes with great views, etc.
I really enjoy Estes park, and Grand lake. Both have wonderful views, good food and nice little towns to just walk around. They are a little higher, so one would want to feel good prior to such an adventure.
User avatar
Wish I lived in CO
Posts: 1074
Joined: 2/8/2008
14ers: 57
Trip Reports (11)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Wish I lived in CO » Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:56 pm

Despite what many on this forum would say, acetazolamide / diamox is worth a try. Worked wonders for me. Just be to sure to take no more than a half dose or less (experiment with it) to keep the side effects at a minimum or none. Not to worry it's very safe.
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
User avatar
Shawnee Bob
Posts: 527
Joined: 6/23/2008
14ers: 22
13ers: 6
Trip Reports (6)
Contact:

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Shawnee Bob » Tue Mar 16, 2021 8:02 pm

I live at about 700 feet, so I understand your problem.

While you're in CO, I'd plan, at first, on doing a lot of hikes in the town where you're staying, or in the foothills at first. Give yourself time to acclimate. When you're good there, a lot of the suggestions you've heard about RMNP are solid. When you think you're up to trying something higher, I've found the Loveland Pass peaks to be great. Not long in terms of mileage, easy to get to, but plenty high. If you can snag some 13K summits there, I'd say you're good to go on bigger stuff.
Because life's too short to be an indoor cat.

http://proactiveoutside.wordpress.com/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
docinco
Posts: 50
Joined: 7/6/2020
14ers: List not added

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by docinco » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:52 am

might want to consult w peter hackett m.d. institute for altitude medicine telluride. diamox works as prophylaxis; i also carry dexamethasone (steroid) but it is serious med, not to be taken lightly.
User avatar
Gandalf69
Posts: 148
Joined: 5/14/2020
14ers: 31
Trip Reports (3)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Gandalf69 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 9:34 am

Like others have said, take it easy. Denver is the mile high city. Spend the first week or so taking it slow before you go any higher. I work at a ski resort, and of course they don't tell you about altitude, just about all the fun snow. I've seen people faint trying to just walk around the hotel. I would also not do pikes peak right away, its summit views are ok, the routes are longer, plus tourist people drive right to the top. Sherman or Bierstaut are good, especially during the week as far as crowds go.
"There's always the possibility that some a**hole will be offended." -Clint Eastwood, Escape from Alcatraz
"Life is cruel, why should the afterlife be any different".-Davey Jones
"The decision to triage us to death...I understand. I don't know that I would agree with it. Certainly not in retrospect because obviously I made it."-Beck Weathers, Dark side of Everest
Rick Canter
Posts: 89
Joined: 7/8/2012
14ers: 31
13ers: 6
Trip Reports (13)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by Rick Canter » Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:18 pm

Wish I lived in CO wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:56 pm
Despite what many on this forum would say, acetazolamide / diamox is worth a try.
If I did not dutifully endorse and emphasize Diamox in my post, I do now. It is the only FDA-approved drug proven to assist with acclimation and I have used it almost every trip to Colorado since 2004.
User avatar
ellenmseb
Posts: 81
Joined: 5/11/2020
14ers: 49 1
13ers: 19 2
Trip Reports (6)
Contact:

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by ellenmseb » Wed Mar 17, 2021 8:47 pm

Rick Canter wrote:
Wed Mar 17, 2021 1:18 pm
Wish I lived in CO wrote:
Mon Mar 15, 2021 10:56 pm
Despite what many on this forum would say, acetazolamide / diamox is worth a try.
If I did not dutifully endorse and emphasize Diamox in my post, I do now. It is the only FDA-approved drug proven to assist with acclimation and I have used it almost every trip to Colorado since 2004.
If you don't want to go through the side effects (dehydration) and hassle, ibuprofen also helps a lot. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20832701/
User avatar
DeTour
Posts: 579
Joined: 7/27/2007
14ers: 40
13ers: 1
Trip Reports (30)

Re: Newb to elevation

Post by DeTour » Thu Mar 18, 2021 8:13 pm

My fellow flatlander brother and I have also found Diamoxx to be consistently effective over 13 years of annual trips - the first three years fighting frequent altitude sickness without it, reduced to minimal problems taking it for 10 years. It’s a useful part of an acclimation strategy, certainly not the entire plan.

It seems to me to minimize nausea, headaches and lethargy quite well, but there is no substitute for time to regain strength to move at a halfway decent pace. A week or so at higher altitude (7,000’+) does wonders for that.
------------------------------------------------------------------
The only thing that matters is the quality of the light.
DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci), Fortitude
The land is forever.
- Steve Almburg, Illinois centennial farmer
Post Reply