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#48584 - 10/18/16 07:01 PM Acclimation may last longer than expected
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 430
Loc: Reno, NV
"... Even short exposures to high elevation can unleash a complex cascade of changes within red blood cells that make it easier for them to cope with low-oxygen conditions. What’s more, these changes persist for weeks and possibly months, even after descending to lower elevations..."

http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/two-weeks-mountains-can-change-your-blood-months

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#48597 - 10/20/16 07:18 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: RenoFrank]
Bob West Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 828
Loc: Bishop, CA, USA
The Science mag article may be very misleading for aspirating Whitney hikers, and others, who might think that one night on Mt. Baldy, for example, is going to acclimate them to the altitude of the summit of Mt. Whiney...or even the trailhead. The operative word in the article is "can", not "will".

The article also says, "But mountaineers, backpackers, and other high-country weekend warriors have long known that this story might not be quite right. It takes weeks to produce new red blood cells, and even ordinary people can adapt within days." Again a misuse of language, in that in the last sentence the word "and" should have been replaced with "but", and "can" replaced with "may".

The article is based solely on one small study of climbers who lived above 5,000 meters for two weeks before continuing their climb. Yep, after two weeks at altitude they were ready to continue, not after one night! This is where the article is very misleading. A short study of one small group cannot possibly be considered scientific, especially when accepted scientific studies by experts (Peter Hackett, et. al.) contradict your assumptions.

http://www.altitude.org/altitude_sickness.php






Edited by Bob West (10/20/16 07:25 AM)

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#48604 - 10/20/16 03:46 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Bob West]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1565
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
5000 meters? Two weeks? That's 16,000 feet. ANd the final two miles, a 528 foot climb “ was the hardest thing I have ever done,”?

?


Edited by saltydog (10/20/16 04:35 PM)
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#48608 - 10/20/16 08:28 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: RenoFrank]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 403
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Acclimatization involves many changes. Some, like changes to breathing patterns, occur quickly. Others, like increased red blood cell count, take longer. While this short article glossed over some details, I found nothing that was misleading. It certainly didn’t suggest that one night on Baldy prepares you for the summit of Whitney.

Originally Posted By: Bob West
A short study of one small group cannot possibly be considered scientific, especially when accepted scientific studies by experts (Peter Hackett, et. al.) contradict your assumptions.

Science involves following the SCIENTIFIC METHOD. The size of a study and whether its conclusions agree with previous scientific studies have no bearing on whether the new study is scientific. The article makes no mention of ASSUMPTIONS. It describes new findings that appear to add to existing knowledge. More studies that duplicate or refute the new findings will tell us whether they are onto something.

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#48609 - 10/21/16 04:42 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: bobpickering]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
To add to the mix.....
High altitude natives such as true genetically adapted pure Tibetans (not just acclimatized) have much lower hemoglobin levels than lowlanders who come to altitude and acclimatize. So it is not just the red cells. They have metabolic changes in their cellular oxygen transport to and at the mitochondria level. This is not available, at least nowhere to the same degree, to those who stay a week or a month. I am surprised the article did not mention this as it is receiving lots of research attention these days.

Furthermore. Andean populations have runaway polycythemia (way TOO MUCH red blood production) and as a result get Chronic mountain sickness( monge's disease) and die young often age 25-35 from right ventricular heart failure. They are genetically different from Tibetans and something like four times as likely to get this. Totally different disorder than AMS, HACE, HAPE.

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#48627 - 10/24/16 03:29 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Harvey Lankford]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I appreciate the posts. As one who suffers from altitude sickness, I'm always interested in learning what else these guys are finding. Is there a good source that you are aware of that summarizes recent findings? My latest human guinea pig experiment was a bit of a failure. I read that the high nitrate content found in beet juice will convert to nitrites and help to avoid altitude sickness, but the catch was it had to be in copious amounts. I want to see 750 ml to 1 liter. I went to Whole Foods and had them juice me some beets which I consumed the next morning--within 20 minutes of consuming half of that, I was bolting for the facilities. I think Diamox has helped, but it has its limits. When on 125MG twice a day for multiple days before ascending, my limit is still sea level to about 11,000. Sea level to trail camp and I get very ill.

Brent N

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#48629 - 10/24/16 07:19 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Brent N]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Brent N, was that RED beet juice? I like them, but the red makes it all the way through my system. laugh

Doug from the Portal Store wrote that someone at Trail Camp yesterday needed a rescue, that they were having vision/blindness trouble due to the altitude. He later reported that they were able to walk out today, fortunately.

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#48638 - 10/25/16 02:27 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Steve C]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
Trigger warning: Don't read my reply to Steve while eating your lunch.

Howdy, Steve. Yup. That same biological phenomenon occurred. I hiked later that day after all the initial gastro events subsided. As I was hiking down during the sunset that evening, I stood by a cliff and answered nature's call. As the beet's remains arced into the sunset, I noticed that the rich colors of the sunset and the unusual color my pee were one. It was a very Zen moment to be at one with nature quite like that ;-)

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#48640 - 10/25/16 04:10 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Brent N]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Omg that is funny. Laughing till it hurts. laugh

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#48648 - 10/27/16 07:34 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Steve C]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
I remember a couple times where I did Whitney again a week or two after doing it the first time and the second time I didn't really feel the altitude. But generally what works for me and makes a HUGE difference is spending an extra day at altitude before the hike. I used to just drive from sea level to the campground the afternoon before the hike, but now I leave a day earlier and stop at Mammoth Mountain Inn along the way. Then stay at the campground the day before the hike (Horseshoe Meadows is another great option but I can't sleep as well there as I can in a hotel bed).

Also the better conditioned you are, the less your heart has to work and thus the less you'll feel the altitude.

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#48653 - 10/28/16 06:02 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: bruce]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: bruce
I remember a couple times where I did Whitney again a week or two after doing it the first time and the second time I didn't really feel the altitude. But generally what works for me and makes a HUGE difference is spending an extra day at altitude before the hike. I used to just drive from sea level to the campground the afternoon before the hike, but now I leave a day earlier and stop at Mammoth Mountain Inn along the way. Then stay at the campground the day before the hike (Horseshoe Meadows is another great option but I can't sleep as well there as I can in a hotel bed).

Also the better conditioned you are, the less your heart has to work and thus the less you'll feel the altitude.


Bingo. Time, time, time.

This is far more important than wimpy benefit of medical Diamox or unproven magic potions like gingko or beet juice

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#48654 - 10/28/16 06:58 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Brent N]
KaraKyrgyz Offline


Registered: 07/10/15
Posts: 11
Loc: California, USA
Brent, in case you're not already aware there's a Facebook group called "Altitude Acclimatization" where people discuss AMS research and their own high altitude experiences. They keep a fairly current tally of scientific findings: http://unofficialacclimatizationguideline.blogspot.com/ Hope it helps!

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#48655 - 10/28/16 08:02 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: KaraKyrgyz]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 430
Loc: Reno, NV
Originally Posted By: KaraKyrgyz
Brent, in case you're not already aware there's a Facebook group called "Altitude Acclimatization" where people discuss AMS research and their own high altitude experiences. They keep a fairly current tally of scientific findings: http://unofficialacclimatizationguideline.blogspot.com/ Hope it helps!


It recommends "Climb high sleep low". I seem to remember some discussion here about this.

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#48656 - 10/28/16 08:15 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Harvey Lankford]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1565
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
Harvey: Yep nothing like time at elevation, but I wonder whether you agree that general physical conditioning means "the less you'll feel the altitude".

I also wonder whether you would distinguish between AMS and general endurance and shortness of breath in what it means to "feel the altitude". I am pretty sure general condition has nothing to do with AMS and thought the same about endurance and wind, but less sure of the latter.
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

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#48657 - 10/28/16 09:03 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: RenoFrank]
saltydog Offline


Registered: 02/03/11
Posts: 1565
Loc: Valley Ford CA!!!!
RF: I admire the unofficial guide, with two exceptions.

First, it almost totally ignores the need to acclimatize for wind and endurance (mild hypoxia without AMS) concentrating almost entirely on AMS. I have never had AMS, but always need to acclimatize for shortness of breath and endurance, even when I am in top shape. For me and I believe most people, this is at least as important to the success and enjoyment of a hike as preventing AMS.

The second exception is its discussion of "climb high,sleep low" even with its qualification that this only kicks in at 10,000 feet, it is problematical. First, it is often quoted without reference to the 10,000 foot application. Second, even starting at 10,000 feet, it would make starting at Whitney Portal much more difficult, precluding staying at Trail Camp on night one, which is obviously a very common practice.

I ran into one case in point of a hiker who thought he could start from sea level, hit the Whitney Trail , summit and camp at Guitar on the first day of his JMT hike because he was following the 10,000 foot climb high sleep low rule. He was focussed entirely on avoiding AMS and had no idea that shortness of breath and general exhaustion were even an issue. With no acclimation at all, he had no AMS signs, but he was dangerously exhausted just above Trail Camp, very confused as to why. I talked it over with him and he decided to retreat to Trail Camp and call it a day. This was a pretty extreme example, but I think to a lesser extent for many people learning about acclimation there is far too little said about shortness of breath without AMS.

Fnally, I don't think CHSL applies at all for say a JMT through hike, after the first few days of real acclimatization, although many seem to believe it does. as it would preclude many of the best experiences in many itineraries, , such as camping in Evo Basin, trail Junction bivvies, Whitney Summit etc, anywhere above 11 or 11.5 all of which are just fine after a few or several days acclimation.

A much better principle for acclimation would be climb high, and sleep at the highest elevation at which you are comfortable
_________________________
Wherever you go, there you are.
SPOTMe!

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#48658 - 10/28/16 10:15 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: saltydog]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
My best experience on Whitney came when I slept on Baldy on a Friday night for the three weekends before, camped at Outpost day 1, hiked to Trailcrest and then back down to camp at Trailcamp on day 2, and then ascended the third day, all while on Diamox. Diamox will not get me to Trail Camp on Day 1--I start puking at 11,500 no matter how fit I am at sea level. Still, I continue to search to see if there are any other elixirs out there that would help me to shave all the advance time--something I don't have control over nearly enough.

Thanks for the FB link. I'll check it out.

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#48659 - 10/28/16 10:39 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: saltydog]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Harvey: Yep nothing like time at elevation, but I wonder whether you agree that general physical conditioning means "the less you'll feel the altitude".

I also wonder whether you would distinguish between AMS and general endurance and shortness of breath in what it means to "feel the altitude". I am pretty sure general condition has nothing to do with AMS and thought the same about endurance and wind, but less sure of the latter.


Salty is correct. Shortness of breath (SOB) without AMS is simply Mountaineer's Foot, ie, pooped and cannot put one in front of the other. Happens at sea level, too, but moreso where atmospheric pressure is lower. Same as your car- gotta push on the gas or downshift to maintain speed uphill. Cars can keep it up, or at least until they overheat. Human engines are not as sturdy.

While being conditioned may help one avoid this for a while, or get ahead of the pack, it is felt in the scientific community that youth and athleticism actually increases the risk of AMS by going too high too fast. . Obviously, there is huge individual variation and exceptions to many general rules. Messner, for example, did not have a champion cyclist or marathoner VO2max. He just had "it" whatever "it" is.

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#48660 - 10/28/16 12:25 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Harvey Lankford]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 403
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Commenting on several of the previous posts…

“Climb high, sleep low” is the default approach for an expedition on a big mountain. Climbers typically carry some of their gear and supplies partway up the mountain and then return to a lower camp to sleep. The next day, they may move camp to where they cached their stuff the day before. On really big mountains, it may take several carries to move camp. They repeat this sequence until they are high enough to get to the summit and back in one day.

Classic “Climb high, sleep low” doesn’t really apply in the lower 48. All the 14ers are routinely climbed as dayhikes, though many people will camp somewhere between the trailhead and the summit. To avoid AMS, JMT hikers probably shouldn’t camp on top of high passes or summits, but the best campsites and water sources are usually lower anyway.

“Climb high, sleep low” does not mean that you sleep as low as possible (e.g. Lone Pine). As saltydog said, “sleep at the highest elevation at which you are comfortable.” And as others have said, the more nights you spend high, the better.

Some people just tolerate altitude better than others, and I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve been symptom-free in the lower 48 since day one, though acclimatization helps my performance. Dayhike the MR in January after sleeping at Alabama Hills? A ton of work, but I hardly noticed the altitude. The “Unofficial Guide” shed some light on why. It said oxygen saturation can drop by 15-25% from 11,483 to 18,045 (3,500 to 5,500 meters). I once measured 92% above 14,000, while I typically measure 94-96% in Reno.

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#48661 - 10/28/16 01:28 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: bobpickering]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 430
Loc: Reno, NV
My experience and knowledge of this subject doesn't compare to many on this thread and I defer to and respect (now and in the past) those sharing their thoughts. That said I'd like to share my experience.

I learned quickly that when I sleep around 8,000' or higher I suffer from very uncomfortable abnormal breathing. My symptoms are exactly those described for Cheyne-Stokes Respirations - "Above 3,000 metres (10,000 feet) most people experience a periodic breathing during sleep known as Cheyne-Stokes Respirations. The pattern begins with a few shallow breaths and increases to deep sighing respirations then falls off rapidly even ceasing entirely for a few seconds and then the shallow breaths begin again.

During the period when breathing stops the person often becomes restless and may wake with a sudden feeling of suffocation. This can disturb sleeping patterns, exhausting the climber.

This type of breathing is not considered abnormal at high altitudes. Acetazolamide is helpful in relieving this periodic breathing." http://www.traveldoctor.co.uk/altitude.htm

I also learned from personal experience that for me Diamox alleviates that periodic breathing pattern. Through this forum I learned about Diamox, discussed it with my doctor, and typically take 125mg twice a day starting a couple of days before sleeping at altitude. I then can sleep without those breathing difficulties. (I still am usually restless in anticipation of the next day's hike.)

Six weeks ago I hiked up the MWMR as a day hike. I arrived at Whitney Portal the day before, slept in my car, and was on the trail at 3:30 AM. This hike was a major goal of mine for the past couple of years. I had been part way up the MR three previous times familiarizing myself with the "route". I was in probably my best hiking shape, conditioning myself with this goal in mind. I am 65 and have been to the MW summit twice previously - once on the Main Trail as a day hike and once coming from Onion Valley camping several nights along the way.

I did succeed but was very disappointed in my progress ascending. I figured it would take me 7 1/2 hours to reach the summit. It took me 10 hours. My time to Iceberg Lake was OK - about 5 hours, but from there to the summit took me another 4 hours. While going up the chute I had to stop and gasp for breath about every 5 minutes or sooner. I found the chute to be steep with very loose rocky footing. I was advised to avoid the bigger chute in the center and take the smaller one to the left which I did. However maybe I should have been up out of the chute on more solid rock. I was mostly inside the chute searching for handholds so I could make my way up the loose rock.

While in the chute I made the decision to descend via the Main Trail. I did not want to ever be in that chute again. I was happy with my pace going down - it took me 6 hours.

Perhaps if I had spent an extra night or two at altitude (maybe Horseshoe Meadows) I would not have experienced the many debilitating bouts of sucking wind. Now that some time has passed I often consider a return trip to try again with better acclimation. I should mention I live in Reno and sleep every night at 5500'. In the past I figured this gave me an edge.



Edited by RenoFrank (10/28/16 01:48 PM)

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#48662 - 10/28/16 02:35 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: RenoFrank]
Brent N Offline


Registered: 01/20/11
Posts: 278
Loc: Orange County, CA
I suspect sleeping at 5500 in Reno really helps. I'm at 270. My daughter has been working at a camp all summer at 7,000 feet. We hiked Mt. Timpanogos during that summer. She has always been much slower than me, but not this time. She really wasn't in any better shape than she has ever been, but her facility at altitude was stellar.

Brent N

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#48665 - 10/28/16 06:19 PM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Harvey Lankford]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: saltydog
Harvey: Yep nothing like time at elevation, but I wonder whether you agree that general physical conditioning means "the less you'll feel the altitude".

I also wonder whether you would distinguish between AMS and general endurance and shortness of breath in what it means to "feel the altitude". I am pretty sure general condition has nothing to do with AMS and thought the same about endurance and wind, but less sure of the latter.


Salty is correct. Shortness of breath (SOB) without AMS is simply Mountaineer's Foot, ie, pooped and cannot put one in front of the other. Happens at sea level, too, but moreso where atmospheric pressure is lower. Same as your car- gotta push on the gas or downshift to maintain speed uphill. Cars can keep it up, or at least until they overheat. Human engines are not as sturdy.

While being conditioned may help one avoid this for a while, or get ahead of the pack, it is felt in the scientific community that youth and athleticism actually increases the risk of AMS by going too high too fast. . Obviously, there is huge individual variation and exceptions to many general rules. Messner, for example, did not have a champion cyclist or marathoner VO2max. He just had "it" whatever "it" is.



First of all, "feel the altitude" probably wasn't the best way to put it. I really meant having the altitude become a major factor in the hike (like being a real pain).

While there are some who might negate the benefits of good conditioning by going too fast, there are probably many more who go too fast because they hiking with people who are in better shape than they are and feel pressured to keep up. It works both ways. My remarks on the benefits of conditioning assume that variable is constant and that one will hike at a proper pace with adequate breaks. Personally I use a heart rate monitor to pace myself (along with feel of course, but higher up it's harder to trust how you feel and you get an idea of how much work you're doing by monitoring your heart rate, making it easier to put a limit on your pace).

Anyway it wasn't to be taken out of context but rather included the condition that one has made an effort to get acclimated beforehand. Acclimation alone won't get you to the the top of Whitney without "feeling the altitude" but both that and proper conditioning can.

I dayhiked Whitney twice this year. The first time was with my brother Doug ("Dug" here) last month. I spent the extra day in altitude as I have always done the last 5 years and we did the hike in a pretty fast time and I did not feel the altitude at all. I was astounded by that, as I hadn't felt that way in many years on the trail. The last few years I did the same altitude prep but being in lessor conditioning (although still in good shape, running and doing practice hikes like Clouds Rest or Granite Pass), the altitude still kicked my butt as usual. I don't know what happened this time, but I do know that I was in the best condition of my life, so I know that helped me not "feel the altitude".

Then I returned to Whitney 3 weeks later to hike it with my wife. This time we just drove to the campground and spent the afternoon and evening, like in the old days of our (relative) youth. Still in great shape, but without that extra day at altitude, I really felt the lack of oxygen. And we took over 3 hours longer to do the hike!

So it's not always about going too fast. But less conditioned people, due to hiking slower, will spend a lot more time above 12000 feet and that makes a big difference in how much you "feel the altitude". And as a general they will have higher average heart rates which will require more oxygen, even without taking into account spending more time in the danger zone.



Edited by bruce (10/28/16 06:28 PM)

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#48666 - 10/30/16 05:36 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: bruce]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
Originally Posted By: bruce
Anyway it wasn't to be taken out of context but rather included the condition that one has made an effort to get acclimated beforehand. Acclimation alone won't get you to the the top of Whitney without "feeling the altitude" but both that and proper conditioning can.


Even conditioning is debatable unless you are looking at the clock. Anyone with a certain minimum of ambulation and enough time can do Whitney. Just ask BobRockwell who continued slow but steady Whitney ascents into his 80s.

Aside from AMS that can stop you in your tracks, the biggest issue is often not physical but mental. Inexperienced people just do not always have the stick-with-it-ness to finish the job. It is hard to push unwilling flesh up the mountain. As an example, a friend of mine begged me to take him and his 3 athletic gymnast teens on a mountain hike. All he could do was brag about their bodies. Well, after an hour they were all whining and wanting to quit. And this was not anywhere near Whitney altitude. Same thing happens on flat sidewalks. Many people have zero mental confidence or stamina. Emotions can rule.Just another part of the puzzle. If you read the books of high altitude successful people you will find admissions of learning to live with high altitude suffering, both physical and mental. Those who are patient with thus are richly rewarded.

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#48667 - 10/30/16 06:38 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: Harvey Lankford]
bruce Offline


Registered: 09/27/13
Posts: 106
Loc: Novato, CA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
Originally Posted By: bruce
Anyway it wasn't to be taken out of context but rather included the condition that one has made an effort to get acclimated beforehand. Acclimation alone won't get you to the the top of Whitney without "feeling the altitude" but both that and proper conditioning can.


Even conditioning is debatable unless you are looking at the clock. Anyone with a certain minimum of ambulation and enough time can do Whitney. Just ask BobRockwell who continued slow but steady Whitney ascents into his 80s.

Aside from AMS that can stop you in your tracks, the biggest issue is often not physical but mental. Inexperienced people just do not always have the stick-with-it-ness to finish the job. It is hard to push unwilling flesh up the mountain. As an example, a friend of mine begged me to take him and his 3 athletic gymnast teens on a mountain hike. All he could do was brag about their bodies. Well, after an hour they were all whining and wanting to quit. And this was not anywhere near Whitney altitude. Same thing happens on flat sidewalks. Many people have zero mental confidence or stamina. Emotions can rule.Just another part of the puzzle. If you read the books of high altitude successful people you will find admissions of learning to live with high altitude suffering, both physical and mental. Those who are patient with thus are richly rewarded.


Nice points about stick-with-it-ness (my wife has that in spades, that and experience helped her tremendously to get to the top this year).

Nevertheless proper conditioning is still very, very important. It goes without saying that the less ready you are conditioning-wise, the more likely you will have to dig deeper into your stick-with-it-ness to get up the mountain (given proper pacing). I don't see how the point is even debatable and don't want readers to get the impression that they'll have equal odds of bagging Whitney no matter what shape they're in.

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#48668 - 10/30/16 08:39 AM Re: Acclimation may last longer than expected [Re: bruce]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1023
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
We are on same page. The experience physically mentally emotipnally spiritually is enhanced by acclimatization and fitness. Can it be done without? Yes, or at least sometimes. Is is better with it, yes. Just do it. If at first you do not succeed, try again

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