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#17645 - 08/18/11 08:29 PM Trip Report 8-17-11
RenoFrank Online


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 394
Loc: Reno, NV
My hiking group made our initial decision to hike Mt Whitney during one of our weekly hikes last summer. Since then we did much research, preparation, and training. We are from Reno/Sparks NV and our group leader Dave submitted our permit application last February for our original group the "Whitney 11". We felt lucky that we were able to get our first choice of dates for our hike. Several alternate dates we submitted were earlier in July and I think the snow was a bigger factor at that time. A few of the original group dropped out for various reasons and we recruited some outstanding replacements.

Spring in Reno arrived later this year because of the huge snow pack and this delayed our opportunity to hit the trails. My training consisted of 9 trips to a very nearby Galena Park and 4 climbs up nearby Mt. Rose (elevation 10,776 ft). Those switchbacks in Galena Park are excellent training. One day after reaching the top of the switchbacks, we went down and climbed them again. I know out group had and advantage because Reno elevation is 4500 ft and my house is over 5000 ft. Also I started dieting in early June and lost 15 pounds - less weight to carry up Mt Whitney.

I started carb loading a few days before our hike and at the advice of my doctor I loaded up with Ibuprofen starting two days before my hike. I had ask him for some Diamox but he said the altitude would be no problem but my biggest problem would be my aching knees and hips ( My wife and I are both 60). So he refused to prescribe the Dioxin and he was right.

After spending the night anxiously trying to sleep in our motel in Lone Pine we met at the trailhead at 3 PM.While waiting for some of our group we were entertained by a bear at the trailhead not 30 ft from us. He was not aggressive and finally wandered off when someone shooed him away. We were finally underway at 3:20 AM. Three members of our group were still enroute from their motel in Bishop about an hour away. We didn't wait for them 1.because they're always late (Scott) and 2. because they are the fastest strongest of our group.

As we progressed up the trail my wife and I quickly fell behind the rest of the group.Twice we caught up as they rested and waited. I remarked "I thought our Whitney pace was going to be slower than our regular pace" but I was wrong. So my wife Bea and I often reminded each other to keep our own pace to conserve our energy. We had lots of snacks - MM's, mini Snickers bars, the small Cliff bars, and several packets of GU energy gel. As advised we hydrated and fueled our bodies regularly. We each also carried two sandwiches each. Bea carried 3 1/2 liters of Gatorade and I carried 3 3/4. We did refill on the way up at Trailside Meadows where we finally caught Dave as he was filtering water. Scott, Michelle, and Kyle passed us a little after sunrise and they made the summit in a little over 6 hours.

I found the stretch between Trailside Meadows and Trail Camp especially difficult. A relentless climb. I had been looking forward to the 97 switchbacks and was not disappointed. We crossed the running spring water around switchback 23 and were at the cables sooner than I expected. As we neared the top of the switch backs I could see people up at Trail Crest and was elated when we arrived there. As we passed the John Muir Trail junction we noticed that many hikers had left their back packs at this junction. Soon after that Bea decided to leave her pack and continue with her bottle of water and side pack of snacks. After that she increased her pace and I had to ask her to slow down she was wearing me out.

We summited at about 12:50 for a 9 1/2 hr ascent. We had hoped for 8 hrs up and 6 hrs down. All but one of our group was on the summit so we all celebrated and soon Dave also arrived - all 11 of us had made it. I had a sandwich and some snacks. The altitude did not seem to affect me at all. In fact I felt great at the summit. I know I often felt more exhausted after some local hikes. All our training had paid off. We soon left and Dave, Bea, and I were together for the entire descent. We refilled our water bottles at the springs on the switchbacks. We did not bother filtering and the water was ice cold and taste great. I felt good most of the way but about half way down I started feeling the fatigue and those last 2 miles from Lone Pine Lake seemed to never end. Around 8 we had to put our headlamps on again and we arrived back at the trail head around 8:30 - 7 1/2 hrs to come down.

Our group had name tags that I had made and many people asked "What's with the name tags" Some even called Dave by name. All the water crossings were easy no need to get wet and the snow was not much of a factor. No snow on the trail on any of the switch backs. Only a fairly short snow field close to the summit where there was a narrow path about 3 ft deep.

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#17650 - 08/19/11 06:40 AM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: RenoFrank]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Congratulations 11 times over! Sounds like a great trip!

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#17661 - 08/20/11 05:24 AM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Akichow]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 926
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Congratulations.

Not sure how your MD "knew" you would not have an altitude problem, but perhaps living at 5k "preacclimatized" you enough. This was discussed on the Diamox thread here recently. Or, you were one of the 50% or so who just have no problem on Whitney. Congratulations again.

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#17669 - 08/20/11 04:33 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Harvey Lankford]
RenoFrank Online


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 394
Loc: Reno, NV
I did everything I could to talk my doctor into prescribing me Diamox. I told him I would only use it if needed after developing symptoms of AMS. He said the negative effects outweighed the positive. My MD is the same age as me and is a hiker although he has not done Whitney. He was convinced the altitude would not be an issue.

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#17670 - 08/20/11 05:04 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: RenoFrank]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1245
Loc: Atlanta
That seems really strange to me - just not a lot of serious side effects to worry about with Diamox when the alternative is AMS in a dangerous setting. And 14K' is most definitely AMS territory, regardless of the crystal ball the doc was peering into to be unconcerned about altitude affecting you.

Any chance he might have misunderstood and thought you were asking for dexamethasone? Dex is a powerful steroid used at elevation when AMS symptoms present themselves. Diamox, typically used prophylactically before an ascent, just isn't a big deal for most people. I ask because, with my wife's prior history with debilitating AMS, she discussed dex with her doc last year - just to have a tab available up high if AMS nailed her again. Even with her history he adamantly refused to prescribe it, based exactly on what you relate your doc said - serious side effects outweighing the benefits. He does, however, prescribe Diamox like candy.

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#17672 - 08/20/11 05:16 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Bulldog34]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
I asked my doc how she felt about Diamox, etc., when I saw her a few days ago, so we looked it up in one of her guides(reminded me of a phone book!) It was interesting that the "general" perscription was for 500mg, so using that dosage as a benchmark for side effects(Ken made a funny remark about how miserable that dosage is somewhere else)One would back way off of liberally handing ou that med for a recreational activity. The same could be said for Dex. My doc mentioned to me that if one "pre" needs Dex to recreate, than one needs to find a new activity -- Dex is to be used only as an emergency intervention, not as a passport to play...(yikes!)
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#17675 - 08/20/11 05:50 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Bee]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 926
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: Bee
I asked my doc how she felt about Diamox, etc., when I saw her a few days ago, so we looked it up in one of her guides

Bee, I am afraid that is the extent of most MDs "training" in high altitude illness!

How do I know? I had no formal training on AMS or Diamox in med school and my cohorts today look at me like I am speaking Greek when I bring the subject up. I had to learn on my own, with many personal and group /expedition experiences up to 22,000ft, courses taken through various organizations like Wilderness Medicine Society, on the job class with Himalayan Rescue, some minor publications, and classes that I gave to MDs like the UVA and VCU/MCV cardiology and pulmonary departments. I am still learning. The average MD whose knowledge is limited to just looking it up in a "big book" would not be your choice if you had cancer, eh? Unfortunately, high altitude illness is highly variable with limited (but improving ) understanding.

I just cannot understand how an MD would refuse a patient request for a simple drug that may not be foolproof but is proven useful. Would he refuse a patient's request for a diarrhea drug if that patient was travelling to a third world country? I would want a GI specialist or a Travel Clinic provider to advise me on that. Too bad those type knowledgeable people are not widely available for AMS. Rant over, thanks.

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#17687 - 08/21/11 04:26 AM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 926
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
I apologize for the thread hijacking.

I was interested in the medical issue, but please let me thank you for posting your nice report.

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#18033 - 09/03/11 09:42 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: RenoFrank]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 6880
Loc: Fresno, CA
RenoFrank posted a video of his trip here: Video of Whitney 1 day hike 8-17-11

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#18048 - 09/04/11 08:37 PM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: Harvey Lankford]
lynn-a-roo Offline


Registered: 08/14/10
Posts: 625
Loc: OrangeCounty
Lately, I and my friends always have Diamox with us for our hikes but we don't always take it, in fact sometimes we never ingest it for a hike. Generally, only one person in our group needs it and she sometimes doesn't take it until the day of the hike or during the hike and it still works on easing symptoms of altitude sickness. Our doctors always write us prescriptions for Diamox if we ask for it. I've never heard a doctor say anything negative about taking Diamox as long as we follow the directions. It's not a drug that anyone would want to abuse.

Dr. Lankford, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Diamox a drug that either people with Glaucoma would use or is it for Diabetics?

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#18055 - 09/05/11 07:09 AM Re: Trip Report 8-17-11 [Re: lynn-a-roo]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 926
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Hi Lynn, it is for glaucoma, altho it is an older drug and I don't know how much it is still used as part of the ophthalmologists armamentarium. Tough spellings there.
Harvey

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