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How long to acclimatize?
#57817 07/30/20 03:48 PM
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We are driving six hours from a sea level city to Lone Pine on September 3 and hiking Mt. Whitney on the 5th. Should we try to hike in elevation on the 4th? Sleep at Whitney Portal night of the 4th (in our car as not camping)? I already booked lodging in Lone Pine for 3-6. My concern is that a few hours hiking and/or sleeping at altitude will not be that beneficial and we should instead focus on getting sleep in Lone Pine on the 4th and starting the hike around 1:00 am on the 5th. Thanks in advance for any advice!

Re: How long to acclimatize?
denisiel #57818 07/30/20 04:43 PM
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denisiel,

The answer to your questions: yes and yes. I am assuming this is your first ascent of Whitney and it would be in your best interest to get as much time at elevation as you can the days leading up to the Whitney hike. Horseshoe Meadows (elevation 9,900 ft.) is very close by to the portal and is an excellent place to acclimate. If you have time, you can day hike up to some high elevation passes from either the cottonwood pass trail head or the New Army pass trail head (cottonwood pass or new army pass (11,500 ft to 12,300 ft +/-).

Sleeping in a car or a truck is a personal choice. I like to sleep in my vehicle. It's big enough for me to stretch out and get a great night rest. But if you don't have a vehicle that can accommodate you or multiple people then staying in a hotel might be best.

Hope this helps!

Re: How long to acclimatize?
denisiel #57834 08/01/20 01:18 PM
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Different people react to altitude very differently, so it’s very difficult to say how much acclimatization you need. Your best plan is moderate hiking at the highest altitude you can access and tolerate and then sleep relatively high (Whitney Portal or Horseshoe Meadow). Sleeping in a nice, comfortable bed in Lone Pine will un-do the acclimatization you achieved at Horseshoe Meadow.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
bobpickering #57885 08/12/20 12:59 AM
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Thank you fit2climb and bobpickering! Seems like we will not be able to acclimate if we sleep in Lone Pine even if we spend a few hours in Horseshoe Meadow the day before. As my group doesn't want to camp, I think it may be best to focus on getting rest in Lone Pine.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
denisiel #57888 08/12/20 08:38 AM
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Horseshoe Meadows is a 45 minute drive from Lone Pine, but it's worth it to get up there and spend as much time as possible. My best acclimitization plan is always to spend the first night in the car or on the ground at Horseshoe Meadows, then second night at Whitney Portal.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Steve C #57890 08/12/20 11:30 AM
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If I drive from coastal North Carolina To Lone Pine and stop for a week in the Rockies and hike at elevation and then take 2 days to drive to Lone Pine will any acclimation I gained in the Rockies help with climbing Whitney? Thanks

Re: How long to acclimatize?
tarheel1 #57891 08/12/20 12:06 PM
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Tarheel: Denver is around 5k elevation, and if you go to higher elevations, as well, for the week before that two-day drive, the acclimatization will likely help. You shouldn't lose all of it.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Steve C #57893 08/12/20 05:01 PM
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I hung out at Horseshoe Meadows the day before my recent Whitney hike. My advice: don't hike up to Trail Pass and Mulkey Pass if you're hoping for scenery; they were boring. smile

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Adam Schneider #57902 08/14/20 06:28 AM
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Coming from sea level, Horseshoe Meadows was too high for me to get any sleep, at least in a tent. So what I did was check into a Lone Pine motel, drive up to Horseshoe around 2-3 pm with plans to stay there until around midnight (or until I got tired of lying down awake in the tent). Then drive down to get a good night's sleep in the hotel, pick up the permit and head up to the Portal campground around noon. At 8000 ft. can at least get some sleep (although usually just a couple of hours worth before I get up at 1:30 to do the hike).

Re: How long to acclimatize?
bruce #57903 08/14/20 08:14 AM
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That reminds me: I always take a sleep aid the first night I am sleeping on the ground or in the car. The different surroundings always make sleeping difficult, no matter what the altitude. It's Benadryl and Melatonin for me.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Steve C #57904 08/14/20 12:51 PM
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Never tried that, but good tip. Forgot to mention that the last 7 years or so been staying in Mammoth area accommodations. Am able to sleep fairly good at 8500 feet in a nice bed.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
bruce #57905 08/14/20 06:13 PM
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I refuse to go that plush!! grin grin grin

When I get that soft, I'll have to give up hiking. grin

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Steve C #57906 08/15/20 09:39 AM
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I admit that I'm a wimp in that regard. grin Can't sleep worth a damn if it's not a nice bed in a regular-sized room. I do sleep (haha) in a tent the night before at the family campground as always. That counts, right? cool

Last edited by bruce; 08/15/20 09:40 AM.
Re: How long to acclimatize?
bruce #58053 09/09/20 02:02 AM
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Thought I'd give a follow up. We hiked on September 5. I drove up a couple of days in advance but did not get a chance to acclimatize or hike and slept in Lone Pine for the two nights preceeding the Whitney hike. My three friends stayed three nights before the hike and acclimatized at Cottonwood and also hiked to Lone Pine Lake but slept in Lone Pine. We all took 600 mg of ibuprofen four hours before starting the hike and every four hours thereafter, including four hours after finishing. One of them had a little difficulty breathing but the other had to turn back on the switchbacks due to fatigue and weakness, which I believe was caused by AMS.

All three used Boost Oxygen, which they said helped a lot after Trail Camp. I did not have any symptoms of AMS nor did I use oxygen but was well hydrated starting two days before the hike. My pack weighed 26 lbs. A guide at a backpacking store in Lone Pine told me that your pack should weigh max 12 lbs. including 2 liters of water. Good thing I didn't listen to him because I used nearly everything in my pack. Only two of us summitted, taking us nine hours to reach the top. We all had equal training and are in our 50s.

So all I can deduce from our experience is that suffering from AMS really depends on each individual person and, in my case, not acclimatizing or taking Diamox did not negatively impact me even though we live at sea level.

Last edited by denisiel; 09/09/20 10:01 AM.
Re: How long to acclimatize?
denisiel #58054 09/09/20 08:38 AM
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I am kind of a canary in a coalmine with altitude sickeness. I am 57. I suck. I found this post by KaraKyrgyz to be awesome for me:

http://www.whitneyzone.com/wz/ubbth...matization-takes-too-damn-long#Post54378

Like in this post, the higher the exertion level, the more likely I will get AMS. I don't get headaches, I vomit.

I "failed" in my last two high elevation mountaineering adventures. Shasta 14k+ and Mt Abbot 13.7k. I was using Diamox in both attempts.

For Shasta, I stupidly tried to summit without enough acclimatization (I drove directly there from sea level after my previous disasterous "where is my hiking clothes bag? %*%&*%$!" attempt). I felt the nausea coming on quite low in elevation and quickly aborted. I think the only way I could do Shasta is Sierra acclimatization, Bunny Flat at 6900 feet does not cut it. Even the on mountain "Helen Lake" basecamp is still only 10.5k (roughly equivalent to MW Outpost Camp).

Mt Abbot was a guided trip and I knew they would push me out of my altitude sickness safe zone. I planned to do 2 days of altitude acclimatization at White Mountain (WM) Trailhead at 11,700 and working there in my "Tesla Office". This is my problem with mountaineering, it just takes too much time to acclimatize. Could I earn while I acclimatize? Well that failed because I had problems with my Tesla while parked at the WM Trailhead (Tesla Support Call: "Wait time is over 15 minutes" on a Sat Phone). So I became concerned as WM is like a $1000 dirt road tow. So I went down to the Mt Abbot trailhead 10,200K.

So my acclimatization nights (all on Diamox) were:
10,000k White Mountain Visitor Center (walked up to ~12k).
10,200k Mosquito Flat Trailhead.
10,200k Mosquito Flat Trailhead.
11.400k Mt Abbot Basecamp
11.400k Mt Abbot Basecamp (Hiked to 11,900)

Results:

Unfortunately, on summiting day we awoke to smoke and ash from the Sierra Creek Fire over the crest which probably definitely lowered my lung capacity and exasperated my AMS. Well this time on the summit my body "rope a doped" me. I didn't feel that naseous so I tried to gobble down an old peanut butter sandwich and gulp some water, my body rebelled and I puked up everything in my stomach. Getting down was not fun.

One thing I hate about guided trips is the "never stop" credo. Stop to put on more appropriate shoes for climbing rocks, nope! Don't even bring them. Stop to change your batteries in your headlamp that is dying. Not worth it. Stop to drink water that is in your pack. No time for that. "Never stop" probably contributed to my stupid decision to eat and drink on the summit.

Also, unless there is a storm coming or lightning, I don't understand the need to rush off the mountain. I always hike with my dog, she likes to go go go to get to the summit but coming down she likes to stop and rest. The worst outing for her was when I rushed her down San Gorgonio (after camping on the summit) in the heat to beat LA traffic. Never again.

Take Whitney on a overnight permit, if you are dead tired when you get to your base camp after summiting with night coming, Should you stumble down like zombie in the dark to get to your car which you really should not drive home? Or maybe you should rest up at basecamp and go down rested at the crack of dawn with an enjoyable slow daylight down hike and then drive home? I have done the former (on Whitney) and got myself in trouble.

After the trip, I searched for why my Diamox does seem to be effecting me as it used to. When I first used Diamox it made me want to pee almost uncontrollably and my face numb, etc. My search came up with with this new info:

"In situations where rapid ascent is required, 1000 mg per day can be used."

https://www.verywellhealth.com/diamox-acetazolamide-4707929:

I was only using the normal 125mg 2 times a day preventative dose.

Given the conservative:
" If you go above 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), only increase your altitude by 1,000 feet (305 meters) per day and for every 3,000 feet (915 meters) of elevation gained, take a rest day."

and a post I believe on this board about a hiker who used multiple WM trips to "dial in" his Diamox Dose,
and that I no longer feel any side effects from Diamox I would definitely have doubled by dose for the
11,400->13,700 push day (which on my Diamox instructions is for the non-preventative dose).

I will definitely be combing through every Diamox post on this board.

Jay

Last edited by jaym; 09/09/20 10:46 AM.
Re: How long to acclimatize?
jaym #58061 09/10/20 01:38 PM
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Quote
Like in this post, the higher the exertion level, the more likely I will get AMS

Exactly right. Just as important as acclimating, or even more so, is being in excellent aerobic condition and hiking slow. The lower your cardiac output (stroke volume x stroke rate), the less oxygen you need. So either be in top aerobic shape or hike slow (one mile per hour, if that's what it takes to hike within your means at that altitude), or preferably, both. If so, then you can probably just drive to the trailhead from sea level and bag the hut in one go without taking any meds. As for HR, I would cap at it under 75% of your max HR (never let it get one beat above that) and average no more than 65% on the ascent (preferably 60%). And take breaks for crying out loud. It's not a race.

Last edited by bruce; 09/10/20 01:42 PM.
Re: How long to acclimatize?
jaym #58066 09/11/20 07:54 AM
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Jay,

This is not the right place to get your personal medical advice. Talk to the physical who issued you the Diamox; perhaps he or she can give you correct information. You did get the Diamox through a real doctor, right?

Don't tinker with your meds, it is not in your best interest. Diamox can affect each individual differently, depending on many factors.

Your doctor can tell you about possible bad interactions with other meds you might be taking. Also, they can check your blood oxygen saturation level, blood pressure, and heart and lung condition, etc.

On my doctor's orders I carried a little blood oxygen oximeter device and recorded my levels in various situations: at sea level, at different altitudes, exercise level, etc. The result was that I am getting old and require more O2, especially at high altitude.

So, I not longer hike at high altitudes in my beloved Eastern Sierra. That really sucks, right?! So I embraced the suck and changed my recreation life-style. Besides, beach life is turning out to be a lot of fun! No regrets.

Bob

Last edited by Bob West; 09/11/20 08:00 AM.
Re: How long to acclimatize?
Bob West #58067 09/11/20 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Bob West
Jay,

This is not the right place to get your personal medical advice. Talk to the physical who issued you the Diamox; perhaps he or she can give you correct information. You did get the Diamox through a real doctor, right?

Don't tinker with your meds, it is not in your best interest. Diamox can affect each individual differently, depending on many factors.

Your doctor can tell you about possible bad interactions with other meds you might be taking. Also, they can check your blood oxygen saturation level, blood pressure, and heart and lung condition, etc.

On my doctor's orders I carried a little blood oxygen oximeter device and recorded my levels in various situations: at sea level, at different altitudes, exercise level, etc. The result was that I am getting old and require more O2, especially at high altitude.

So, I not longer hike at high altitudes in my beloved Eastern Sierra. That really sucks, right?! So I embraced the suck and changed my recreation life-style. Besides, beach life is turning out to be a lot of fun! No regrets.

Bob

My prescription was the standard 125mg twice a day for prevention and twice that for AMS treatment and I do not take any other meds. This is pretty standard and the HMO provided boilerplate type information on taking Diamox and AMS. My post trip realization is that sucking on smoke and ash while climbing not at my own pace to over 13,700 feet (+2300 feet) (which undoubtably my doctor would not have approved of!) would probably guarantee that I get AMS symptoms (Being a geezer (57) in only mediocre shape) and thus should have jumped to the full AMS dose. Even with all those stressors I may not have puked if just not tried to eat and drink at the summit.

Thank you Bob for the information especially about the blood O2 meter tests. I'll talk to my doctor about that. Maybe, I too, require more O2 as I have trouble at even modest altitudes
especially with no acclimatization.

Jay

Re: How long to acclimatize?
jaym #58070 09/12/20 01:03 PM
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Jay, I would really be wary of that 1000 mg per day recommendation. If you're that sick, you need to turn around. It's way better to spend several days (and nights) at a moderate elevation. That 1000 mg was the original dosage for glaucoma. I'll bet there has been NO study where hikers were given that amount.

By the way, even at sea level, when physically pushed beyond your limits, you can become nauseated and vomit. I've heard of guides in other situations pushing clients beyond their abilities, and it has always resulted in failure to reach their goal. You will need to go at your own pace, or hire a one-on-one guide who can extend the length of your climb to fit your abilities.

You can get the Pulse Oximeter on your own (they're $10 at Walmart online). But understand that many hikers' oxygen level readings drop really low when hiking at altitude. If you get one: When you are hiking, take readings of other hikers, so you can compare to your own.

Re: How long to acclimatize?
Steve C #58071 09/12/20 03:10 PM
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Elaborating on what Steve said…

The correct dose of any medication is the lowest dose that is effective. On the other hand, increasing the dose beyond recommendations can be dangerous. Larger doses may be appropriate for glaucoma, but 125mg twice a day is the usual recommendation for AMS. Taking more than that increases side effects with little or no benefit.

Be sure that you are taking good care of your body in other ways: acclimatization, food, sleep, and plenty of conditioning before starting up. Food, water, and a reasonable pace while hiking. And don’t breathe air that’s full of ash or that you can’t see through.

“Happy Trails” brought a pulse oximeter on a couple of our dayhikes. My reading was 92 on top of Middle Palisade and 89 on Whitney. Curious what it would have been on Denali; I felt pretty good.

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