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#128336 - 02/07/10 03:16 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Steve C]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Steve C, George
If I may summarise.
1) You cannot acclimatise to altitude without spending time at altitude.
2) How well an individual will do at altitude is genetic and age related. Some people will NEVER be able to go very high, and each individual should know when to turn back based on their own bodies reactions. I used to start getting AMS as low as 5,000 to 6,000 feet (when I lived at sea level). I could never have summit-ed Mt Whitney - I got up to 11,000' and came back down. Now the altitude probably wouldn't bother me.
3) There is no correlation between low altitude fitness and not getting Acute Mountain Syndrome AMS
4) It takes about 2 continuous weeks at altitude for your body to do much "getting used to it"
5) spending the weekend at altitude before a high altitude trip will have very little impact.
6) staying hydrated, having the proper diet, not drinking alcohol or smoking pot, these are the things that CAN be controlled.
7) From my own experience, when I lived at sealevel, I have found that if I went (to 7,000 to 8,000') up every weekend, that I don't get kicked as bad and I could miss a weekend and not feel as bad as when I only get up once a month.
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#128369 - 02/07/10 10:55 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Jimshaw]
wandering_daisy Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2742
Loc: California
I think you are on to something, Jim. I too feel that repeated going to altitude on a regular basis helps even if you go back down to sea level inbetween. It is almost like you are developing body memory. Getting better at altitude as you get older may be just that you have a lifetime of going to hights on a regular basis. Or it could simply be that we old farts are not fast enough anymore to over-do at altitude!

I have been told by a medical person that there is a break-over point. If you over-do it and get seriously out of breath, that sets up a reaction that contributes to altitude sickness. If I go up to 12,000 feet from sea level and get out of breath, I do not seem to be able to recover and it is all down hill (or upchuck) from that point on. Slow and easy rythmic breathing really helps me until my body truely aclimitizes.

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#128378 - 02/08/10 12:30 AM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Jimshaw]
Steve C Offline
member

Registered: 02/02/10
Posts: 15
Loc: Ca
Jimshaw, #7 contradicts #4 and #5.
_________________________
<-- webcam from WhitneyZone.com -- Mt. Whitney Hikers Association

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#128398 - 02/08/10 11:33 AM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Steve C]
George Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/28/09
Posts: 8
Loc: Ventura County
Before I asked this question, I had a feeling that there is no short cut. I did learn a lot about acclimating at high altitdue so thank you for all the information whether they answered my question directly or bonus info.
As Steve C suggested, I have already added additional day to my trip so I can take two days to reach Hitchcock Lake. Again, thanks for good info.

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#128401 - 02/08/10 11:43 AM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Steve C]
George Offline
newbie

Registered: 11/28/09
Posts: 8
Loc: Ventura County
By the way, I don't know why I had problems logging on but now I have no problem. I don't understand since I was doing the same thing as I am now.

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#128418 - 02/08/10 04:48 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Steve C]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Steve C
I said when I spent every weekend, it seemed to help, that means going to the Sierras every weekend for months at a time.
#5 refers to spending one weekend only at altitude on the weekend prior.
#4 refers to a considerable amount of time 2 out of 7 days for a long time, not just one weekend. Though not continuous, I was spending maybe 20% of my time at the same altitude range. This is enough time for the body to start actual red blood cell production.
You are welcome to get a copy of Mountaineering medicine and read it for your self, or to actually do some online research of your own.
Also #4 refers to adapting to altitude, #7 refers to not getting kicked as badly.
Jim


Edited by Jimshaw (02/08/10 04:50 PM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#128441 - 02/08/10 07:14 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Jimshaw]
skippy Offline
member

Registered: 12/27/09
Posts: 129
Loc: CO
I think Jim has described my experiences very well. I definitely believe that how you react is mostly related to genetics and that living at altitude is the 2nd biggest factor.

A few years ago I went to climb a 14'er with my wife and she got sick and we had to head down at around 12,500 ft. The next weekend I went back to the same peak with her brother and he got sick and had to turn around (I finished as I was tired of coming back and his symptoms were relatively minor). We all lived in the same town but obviously her and her brother had the same genetic background.

I then took my sister who was living in Maine near sea level up a different 14'er and she had no problem. I realize that this is a small test of this theory but it seems to hold true with other experiences I have had with other people.

-Skippy

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#128460 - 02/09/10 02:13 AM Re: Acclimatization [Re: skippy]
Steve C Offline
member

Registered: 02/02/10
Posts: 15
Loc: Ca
Just for reference, here is a paragraph (slightly modified, technical numbers removed) from the abstract of a study made at Mt. Whitney, 2005 and 2006, published in 2008:

Results:  Forty-three percent of the sample met the criteria for AMS, and 81% reached the summit.  The odds of experiencing AMS were reduced with increases in age, number of hours spent above 3000 m in the 2 wk preceding the ascent, and for females.  Climbers who had a history of AMS and those taking analgesics were more likely to experience AMS.  As climber age increased, the odds of reaching the summit decreased.  However, increases in the number of hours per week spent training, rate of ascent, and previous high-altitude record were all associated with increased odds for summit success.

More details here:   Altitude Research Study at Whitney Portal
____________________________________________
WhitneyZone.com -- Mt. Whitney Hikers Association
_________________________
<-- webcam from WhitneyZone.com -- Mt. Whitney Hikers Association

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#128491 - 02/09/10 05:07 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Steve C]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Steve thanks for that.
I noticed that the study said "The odds of experiencing AMS were reduced with increases in age" and also said "As climber age increased, the odds of reaching the summit decreased"

Probably the odds decrease not because of AMS but because of general fitness.
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#128508 - 02/09/10 08:32 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Jimshaw]
gorge_medic Offline
member

Registered: 08/06/08
Posts: 131
Loc: Kentucky
A couple of thoughts (entirely academic, as I have lived below 1000 feet all my life);

Low altitiude fitness does seem to have a correlation to susceptibility to altitude illness, specifically your VO2 max. Cardiovascular training can increase your VO2 max and increase your body's threshold for hypoxic injury. As jimshaw pointed out, though, your personal highest possible VO2 max is set by genetics; training can help you get closer to that level, but there's still a ceiling.

The question posed about medical equipment earlier is interesting...pulse oximetry works by shining two wavelengths of light through a capillary bed and measuring how much of the two wavelengths are absorbed by oxygenated hemoglobin. This is factored into an algorithm that yields a percentage. Having anyone read 99-100% at significant altitude probably stems from the increased hemoglobin; there are more hemoglobin molecules per milliliter of blood, and so the actual percentage of oxygenated hemoglobin is offset by the greater numbers of molecules packed into the sample space. The amount of light absorbed balances out and the algorithm still pops out 99-100% readings. This number should start to fall the higher you go as the body reaches its capacity for hemoglobin in the blood, but if you were at a "moderately high" altitude and had long-term acclimatization I think you could see acclimation "trick" the machine.

Daggum, that was a good question! My brain hurts...

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#128513 - 02/09/10 09:00 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: gorge_medic]
Pika Online   content
member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 1726
Loc: Rural Southeast Arizona
When I lived in Flagstaff, AZ at 7000" elev. I would occasionally go to Phoenix (1000') for medical exams. My blood work would always come back with too many red blood cells (RBC) per ml of blood. When I explained that I lived in Flagstaff I would get a pass on what would otherwise be considered an abnormal count. My RBC is still above average for a person in their mid 70"s even though I live at only 3400' elev. now. It may be genetics or it may be a residual of having lived at high altitude for six years; I suspect that it is genetics even though my mother suffered from altitude at anything over 4000'. I have worked at being above average fitness for my age most of my life.
_________________________
May I walk in beauty.

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#129605 - 02/26/10 07:58 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: Pika]
Jeff Offline
member

Registered: 03/06/09
Posts: 41
Loc: Nevada
If you have to do Whitney out of the portal consider camping at nearby
Horseshoe Meadows campground at 10,000 the night before. Even
better camp two nights at Horseshoe and relax at 10,000 for a day.
I did Whitney out of the portal as a day hike 1999 and it kicked my
and my wife's but. I made it but it was not a lot of fun above trail crest.

We did Whitney out of Horseshoe Meadows in 2008 and 2009 and it
was very easy. Being at 10,000+ feet for a couple of days before going
to the top made all the difference. We live in Reno and still had problems
out of the portal. My brother and nephew from Indiana and Michigan had
no problems getting to the top of Whitney after hiking out of Horseshoe
Meadows. Permits are much easier going over Cottonwood Pass than over Trail Crest.
_________________________
Jeff MyBackpackTrips

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#132537 - 04/22/10 06:17 PM Re: Acclimatization [Re: George]
CamperHiker Offline
member

Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 37
Loc: UT
I wish I had acclimated a few years back when my wife and I went from sea level to 10,000 feet while living in CA in less than 42 hours. Not a good experience, we had to pack out the next morning, our bodies were revolting
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www.branchwhipped.com Outdoor Gear Giveaways, Reviews & Adventures

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