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Hiking at High Elevations
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Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: What I don't recommend on 05/22/2011 15:00:24 MDT Print View

I thought I add another post so you could add another story...

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Hiking at High Elevations on 05/22/2011 15:13:01 MDT Print View

"Hemoglobin changes take about 2 weeks. Getting your brain to learn and honor how you body responds takes about 2 days."

Yes, short term adaptation begins happening almost immediately, and you can get a lot of good out of a couple of days at a moderate elevation. In the short term, little gas pressure receptors in your circulatory system sense that oxygen is beginning to dip a little, so you begin breathing deeper or sometimes quicker (deeper is more efficient). Your rest heart rate increases slightly. All this occurs subconsciously.

After a couple of days of that, your system will _begin_ creating more red blood cells, but that will take a week to make much difference, and it may take two to three weeks to make a lot of difference. This may have the effect of increasing the solid part of your blood, the hematocrit, so it is a good idea to increase your hydration to make sure that your blood doesn't get too viscous (which leads to other problems). This is the long term adaptation process.

However, that long term stuff takes so long that it is impractical to consider except for a Himalayan expedition or something. So, just focus on letting the short term adaptation happen. For me, it takes two nights, minimum. Three nights is excellent. After that, I get little extra help out of four or more nights. However, the muscles get some good out of moderate exercise during that period. Some people do this much faster, and some do not adapt well at all.


Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: What I don't recommend on 05/22/2011 15:14:13 MDT Print View

Greg, your turn.


Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Re: Re: What I don't recommend on 05/22/2011 15:29:52 MDT Print View

Got another story?

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Re: What I don't recommend on 05/22/2011 15:30:10 MDT Print View

I am laughing out loud at this moment....this exchange is tooo funny!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Re: What I don't recommend on 05/22/2011 16:38:42 MDT Print View

"Got another story?"

I think you've got him scraping the bottom of the barrel, Greg. The one about the Special Forces guy has been told at least once before. ;)

Edited by ouzel on 05/22/2011 16:48:20 MDT.

scri bbles
(scribbles) - F

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: What I don't recommend on 05/23/2011 06:27:07 MDT Print View

This is all fantastic information, thanks! We're doing one or two days on the 14'ers, maybe camping at 10-12k ft. As far as conditioning goes, I've hiked a good bit of the N. GA mountains and plan to seek out some steeper/higher terrain to train on as I have 4 months until the trip. I have easy access to GSMNP.

Important distinction here is that the highest mountain in GA is 4784ft. ;)

It seems the key here is "you won't know until you get there" and "pay attention to your body". Maybe a caffeine/aspirin stack in the first aid kit...

Edited by scribbles on 05/23/2011 06:30:36 MDT.

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Hiking High on 05/23/2011 09:56:41 MDT Print View

I am in the same boat as you Stephen. I am going from Kentucky to Colorado in July with my 16 year old son to backpack and touch a few 14ers. I have done this before with other family members. I have had to turn back twice because the other became ill. We went again a couple days later and things went much better. But I never felt ill. I done backpack the high country of the Appalachia a bit more than my prior hiking partners. I don't know those short trips around 6,000 ft can make that much of a difference though. I might try a Smokies trip with my son a couple weeks before heading west.

Tim Cheek
(hikerfan4sure) - MLife
Two hiking paces at high altitude on 05/23/2011 19:32:25 MDT Print View

Slow and Slower.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Two hiking paces at high altitude on 05/23/2011 19:37:49 MDT Print View

+1 on what Tim wrote

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Two hiking paces at high altitude on 05/23/2011 20:24:42 MDT Print View

Learn the Swahili phrase: po le - po le

That means Slowly Slowly.


Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"Self Medication" The answer to life's problems on 05/24/2011 01:00:39 MDT Print View

I take 4 tablets of NO2 in the AM, 45 mins. before eating and in (as I roll out of the dack). Like Viagara - but much milder - NO2 creates nitric oxide in your blood which dialates blood vessles,such as in the capillaries of your lungs' alveoli.

If I feel the need I'll take 4 more tabs 45 mins. after lunch. Tablet doasge is based on your weight. NO2 is ONLY the amino acid L-Arginine in a time-release tablet.

It helps me get a "second wind" faster and continue on at altiude with much less panting.

Four of five days prior to going to altitude, and 3 days afterward, I take ginko biloba tablets or capsules. The Olympic Training Committeee tested it and found it allievated,but did not eliminate, headaches and neausea due to altitude.

Brian Lindahl
(lindahlb) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Hiking at High Elevations on 06/13/2011 15:38:31 MDT Print View

Good advice on here so far, especially about staying hydrated. However, I do have one tidbit to add that has worked for me. I've hiked/climbed quite a few 13ers/14ers, traversed long ridgelines for several hours between peaks, and have done some ski descents as well.

I use a breathing strategy that has worked for me to alleviate symptoms. When I start to feel that familiar headache, I focus on deep breathing. When I reach the point of a full inhalation, I take a few quick extra breaths in (which puffs out my chest) to get a little more air into my lungs. I suppose it could be psychological, but it seems to work well for me.

A somewhat painful headache or light nasea is fine, but as others have mentioned, if you start noticing more severe headaches or nasuea, or disorientation, it's time to head back down. DO NOT STOP AND REST.

At these altitudes, you'll be fine, as long as you sleep relatively high (~7k-9k) for a couple nights, and take a few day hikes that gain elevation (~2-3k), before giving a 14er a shot. When you get up around 16-18k or higher, thats when you really have to be careful, and AMS becomes a real concern. Conversely, most can do 10k-12k with only feeling extra fatigue and being more out of breath than usual (i.e. no 'real' symptoms), and perhaps a minor headache.

Edited by lindahlb on 06/13/2011 16:06:08 MDT.