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#26531 - 08/05/12 06:34 PM Acclimatization: how long does it last?
thx123 Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Anaheim, CA
This is a question for those of us "normal" ;)folks that are affected by AMS.

I'm planning on spending night at the Bancroft trail head (11600 ft) and summit the White Mountain 14k+ ft next day. Then rest 2 days and summit Whitney. My question is how long does the acclimatization effect last?

When I summited Whitney on 7/9 for the first time this year, I had hard time from the trail crest on.

One more thing... do people usually deal with the altitude better from second time on?

Thanks for your help. :)


Edited by thx123 (08/05/12 06:36 PM)
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#26538 - 08/05/12 09:15 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: thx123]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
The question is, at what altitude are you going to spend the two days and nights before tackling Whitney? Because remaining at high altitude for those two days, even if you take it easy, would give you a big boost.

Other folks surely will chime in on your second question as well, but no, my understanding is that the body does not have some sort of physiological learning curve on altitude. Also, someone who generally is good at altitude can have a bad day, and vice versa. So many variables ... genetics, time spent acclimatizing, dehydration or lack thereof, fatigue/lack of sleep or lack thereof..... What you can do is be smart about sleep, food, water, electrolytes, acclimatization, health, etc., and thereby maximize your chances of feeling good at altitude.... And maybe consider Diamox.

P.S. That said, while I don't have a particular tendency to AMS/headaches etc. (though I do get periodic breathing at night about 11,000'), I have myself found acclimatization to be easier as I have gotten more experienced at altitude. I think that is due to subtle behavioral adaptations ... drinking the right amount, electrolytes, taking Diamox sparingly but appropriately, easy carbs/sugars that are well-timed, etc. One key thing I've learned is to hit a sweet spot on exertion -- respiration is increased, while heart is working but not beating too hard. If the heart starts going too fast, I slow down, period.


Edited by Akichow (08/05/12 09:26 PM)

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#26541 - 08/05/12 10:07 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: thx123]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
thx123, it doesn't last very long. I can't find it right now, but there was an article I read that it's within a day or two. It will affect even the Sherpa.
http://www.foxnews.com/world/2012/04/19/experienced-sherpa-guide-dies-at-everest-base-camp/

You cannot "train" for it, or deal with it better the second or third or fourth time from my personal experience. The worst case of AMS I had was my first time up Whitney. I went straight from Lone Pine to the summit. I've since always acclimated at the Horseshoe Meadows at least one or two nights prior to the hike. Since then, there have been numerous times where I'm practically skipping up and smiling on the summit with no issues. My last time, even with two nights, it was so bad I was stumbling down like a drunk. I had lost my appetite at Iceberg Lake, and failed appreciate the gravity of the sign.

You should rest at the Horseshoe Meadows or the Portal. Don't do it in Lone Pine or that time at White Mountain will probably be for naught. Since you have two days, go to the Cottonwood Lakes. It's six miles, but mostly flat. You'll enjoy really beautiful scenery and a look at Langley. Trust me, it'll make you want to go to Langley ASAP.

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#26542 - 08/05/12 10:15 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: Akichow]
2600fromatari Offline


Registered: 10/18/10
Posts: 452
Loc: San Diego
Originally Posted By: Akichow
One key thing I've learned is to hit a sweet spot on exertion -- respiration is increased, while heart is working but not beating too hard. If the heart starts going too fast, I slow down, period.


thx123, I've found this to be true for myself as well. Don't let competitiveness or excitement rush you. I've noticed on several trips that the moment I exceed my usual comfortable pace, the headaches start, and they will not go away until at least an hour after leaving the mountain. This is a problem I usually have when going by myself. I think I'm still at sea level and try to go at that pace. When I'm with another person, we naturally slow down because we have a conversation almost the entire way.

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#26548 - 08/05/12 11:36 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: 2600fromatari]
Ken Offline


Registered: 10/29/09
Posts: 742
Loc: Los Angeles
In our published altitude paper, interviewing 1800 attemptees, we found an advantage if someone had been to 10,000 feet within the previous month.

there is no doubt that there is a loss of acclimatization with time, but it is not clearly worked out.

It may be quite different at extreme altitudes (>18,000 ft), than it is at 12-14K. I don't think it's well known.

It IS well established that altitude at which you sleep has more effect than simply day activities.

Sound like you have a good plan, G'luck!

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#26555 - 08/06/12 08:12 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: thx123]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
thx123,

I a big believer in "I've done this before; therefore, I know what to expect" more than acclimatization. I can go the High Sierra after being away for a long time and not have any problems, not because I'm acclimatized because I'm not but because I've done this a bunch.

I know enough to slow down and not to push, especially on day one and when I go above 12,000'. For me, experience plays a bigger part in a successful Sierra experience than acclimatization...YMMV.

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#26561 - 08/06/12 10:04 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: Akichow]
thx123 Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Anaheim, CA
Akichow, thank you for so much for your advice.
I'll be spending 2 nights at the onion valley campground. Hopefully this will help.
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#26563 - 08/06/12 10:05 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: 2600fromatari]
thx123 Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Anaheim, CA
2600fromatari. Thank you very much for the article and wonderful advice. I'll keep it it mind.

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#26564 - 08/06/12 10:05 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: Ken]
thx123 Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Anaheim, CA
Ken,

thank you for sharing the study with me. It's very helpful.
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#26566 - 08/06/12 10:10 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: thx123]
Akichow Offline


Registered: 04/07/10
Posts: 659
Loc: SF Bay Area
Originally Posted By: thx123
I'll be spending 2 nights at the onion valley campground. Hopefully this will help.


That is PERFECT! And high enough that your two nights at OV "count" toward your acclimatization.

That is exactly what I did before my first Whitney summit, in 2010 (two nights at OV, plus a day hike up to Kearsarge Pass). Trip report here.

You might consider, on your "off" day, a nice, slow, acclimatizing hike up to Gilbert Lake, maybe a side trip to Flower Lake. Gilbert Lake is big, and there be trout if you fish. Kearsarge Pass is great, though you risk tiring yourself out if you climb that far, particularly with your prior trip to White.

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#26567 - 08/06/12 10:12 AM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: wbtravis]
thx123 Offline


Registered: 06/26/12
Posts: 31
Loc: Anaheim, CA
wbtravis,

Thank you for your advice. I can understand what you said about knowing what to expect. Definitely it will be better this time.

I learned so much about the trail and myself on the first time. I swore never to come back, but less than a month later I'm already planning on the next one...

Thx123
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#26597 - 08/06/12 06:28 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: thx123]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1251
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Wow, you really took a long time. My swore off forever period lasted about 36 hours.

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#26603 - 08/06/12 11:18 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: wbtravis]
BryanB Offline


Registered: 09/15/11
Posts: 49
Loc: Los Angeles, CA
That's funny - when we day hiked Whitney last year, my friends all said it was great, but swore they'd never do it again. For some reason, whenever I finish something, I feel like I could turn right around and do it again. I was utterly exhausted, but the next day I contacted another group of friends that was planning a day hike a month later and joined their group to do it again.

Let's just say, it was just as difficult and exhausting the second time around - despite my brain telling myself it will be easy because I've done it before!

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#26604 - 08/06/12 11:35 PM Re: Acclimatization: how long does it last? [Re: BryanB]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
There seems to be two schools of thought on Repeat Climbs:

1. Been there before, know I can do it: Confidence is high!

2. Oh, yeah, the switchbacks: The place of stale urine stench at every corner. Almost puked last time -- maybe I can hold my breath longer this time. *Sigh*.
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