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Where to rest before the hike
#58950 06/30/21 10:19 PM
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Hello,

This topic has probably been discussed ad nauseum, but I have to ask it because I got permits to hike Mt. Whitney on July 11th. Going to start the hike at 12 am on July 11th.

Where do you rest before the hike? I was looking at Whitney Portal, but it has no spaces available on July 10th. My understanding is that people often sleep in their cars at Whitney Portal before the hike. Also, I heard that dispersed camping (without a reservation) is also allowed at Whitney Portal. Is that true?

Thanks for any advice.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
sachiker10 #58952 07/01/21 06:44 AM
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The old mountaineering adage concerning efficient acclimatization is "climb high, sleep low." Meaning, to trigger your body's blood-oxygen carrying capacity you must climb high, high enough to trigger the change, and then sleep lower than your high point that day, while still at altitude, for your body to rest and keep that oxygen-increasing process rolling as you sleep. I'm not currently aware of any research that shows anything different (please let me know if you know of more recent research).

I usually recommend doing a warm-up hike the day prior (above 8,000) making sure that you are hiking uphill, for at least 30 minutes, until your heart rate hits your anaerobic threshold* for a couple of minutes. This is the "climb high" portion. I never go very hard, then I will spend the night before Whitney sleeping above 7000'. Any high campground in the Eastern Sierra will do: Horseshoe Meadows especially, even Onion Valley is within striking distance of the Portal.

I will make a caveat concerning sleeping high, but lower than your hiking high point. Good sleep is important. Some folks have a hard enough time sleeping at sea level. If you believe that sleeping in Lone Pine gives you a better chance of getting good rest than toughing out a stoic night at 7k-10k elevation, then do that. If you hike high the day before, you've still done your body a big favor.




* = FYI, if you are not familiar your anaerobic threshold is 80-95% of your max heart rate and can be calculated this way: (220 - Your age) x 0.80 = Minimum Anaerobic HR.

Last edited by Snacking Bear; 07/02/21 09:12 AM. Reason: Dr. Lankford noted I reversed the equation.

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Re: Where to rest before the hike
Snacking Bear #58953 07/01/21 07:55 AM
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Do what Snacking Bear says. Spend the night before in a Lone Pine motel room. I could never really sleep, but I would lay down about 4PM and drift until 10PM. Then, eat something and head for the hill. Leaving at midnight is smart. You will be off the summit before the afternoon thunderstorms start. Plus, we were always able to get a parking spot in front of the trailhead. Good luck and please post pictures.

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Re: Where to rest before the hike
RichardK #58954 07/01/21 08:34 AM
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If you are trying to acclimatize, the best sleeping altitude is the highest altitude at which you don’t get sick. I always sleep at the portal in the comfortable bed I built in my car. You couldn’t pay me to sleep in Lone Pine. I started at 1:00 AM in 2010, when I climbed Whitney twice in one day. Otherwise, I don’t think I ever started before 5:00 AM. I need my sleep.

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Re: Where to rest before the hike
Snacking Bear #58955 07/01/21 09:20 AM
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Ok. All of this is helpful information. Thank you everyone.

Just wanted to confirm though, do you know if dispersed camping is allowed at Whitney Portal without a reservation? I could have sworn there was an area where you could just set up a tent and sleep at.

Thanks.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
sachiker10 #58956 07/01/21 10:32 AM
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sachiker: This thread, "Sleeping in your car at Whitney Portal", has a good discussion of the walk-in camp sites. Just beware that the "Backpacker campground" is closed due to a rockslide and damage from last summer. So you need to use the "Ravine Campground". (I'm not positive that you cannot use any of the backpacker sites, so check that first.)

Regarding what people wrote above: "Hike high, sleep low" applies to higher elevations than Mt Whitney and the Sierra. I like Bob Pickering's advice: " Sleep at highest altitude at which you don’t get sick." Adding to that, it is always my experience that the first night sleeping anywhere but home or a motel room, you won't sleep well--just expect that. I will sometimes take two benadryl tablets when I go to bed, and they help me sleep more.

The second part about where you sleep is how much time you have before your hike. I come in from Fresno at 300' elevation, so always drive to 10k Horseshoe Meadows, and bed down for the night. (I'll take both Diamox and Benadryl for that first night.) That gives me Bob P's "sleep as high as possible" the first night. If you're doing Mt Whitney in a day, then the second night you want to be near the trailhead, so Whitney Portal is best for that. Now, IF you are trying to only sleep one night, then I suppose a Lone Pine motel is ok--I don't give much credit to just hanging at Whitney Portal for less than a day as giving you much acclimatization.

Here's the picture from the "Sleeping in your car" thread:
[Linked Image]

Re: Where to rest before the hike
Steve C #58957 07/01/21 11:03 AM
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Coming out in a couple weeks from Pennsylvania, 400 feet. Steve C, you mention Diamox, how that work for you? I have been thinking about it as no way to train in PA for altitude. Planning on a couple nights in Lone Pine. Before Whitney, going to do a couple easy hikes between 8-10k then sleep in Lone Pine each night. Anyone have tips acclimating from lower elevations? Thanks!

Re: Where to rest before the hike
JohnS #58958 07/01/21 02:31 PM
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JohnS, Diamox (Acetazolamide) is a prescription-only drug, so you need to ask a doctor. I only take half a 125 mg tablet twice a day, starting the morning I drive over to Horseshoe Meadows. It is a diuretic, so makes you pee a bit more at first. It is shown to give you a slight advantage on acclimatization. Do not take more than 125 mg 2x per day--causes your fingers to feel like they are buzzing/tingling sometimes, and the lowest dose is supposed to work just as well as the overdoses sometimes prescribed for glaucoma users.

If you are renting a car, drive up to Horseshoe Meadows -- you start up the Whitney Portal road, then make a left turn several miles west of town. Takes 45 minutes, but driving to 10,000 elevation is an awesome experience. If you can pack enough gear, you can camp one night up there -- all sites are one-nighters, and some are always available. HIke to Trail Peak, 11,600' --it's a two-mile hike with a little easy cross-country. I think you can see both the Mt Whitney and Mt Langley summits from its summit.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
Snacking Bear #58959 07/02/21 05:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Snacking Bear
* = FYI, if you are not familiar your anaerobic threshold is 80-95% of your max heart rate and can be calculated this way: (Your age - 220) x 0.80 = Minimum Anaerobic HR.

Let's turn that around. The rule-of-thumb formula is actually (220 - age) X .80
and some formulas use .85
The formula is approximate. Obviously there is individual variation because of genetics, endurance, fitness, over-heating, nutrition and more.

So for me, age 70, it is (220 -70) X .80 = 120 , or if using .85 it is 127.
This means that a heart rate of 120-127 is a sustainable rate all day long. I can, and do, but at a necessarily slower pace than 20 years ago

For those not counting pulse or using pulse watch, clinical clues to that rate may include varying amounts of pounding in your head, needing forced respirations, or breathless while talking
People can go above their anaerobic threshold for a while, then use a "cool down" period to pay back the oxygen debt, as in interval training.

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Re: Where to rest before the hike
Harvey Lankford #58960 07/02/21 09:10 AM
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Dr. Lankford with the save! Yeah, my equation would come out to -190 BPM for my max HR cry

If you are interested in learning about training for big mountain days I cannot recommend the book Training for the New Alpinism enough. Authors House/Johnston also use one's ability to carry on a convo easily or to carry on a convo with difficulty as an analog range for anaerobic threshold.

Many smartphones can also download free or paid heart rate measuring apps that work when not connected to cellular (these apps measure the pulsing of the blood vessels in your finger via placing you place your finger over your camera/light). In comparing the results of these apps and my Polar chest monitor the app results aren't as accurate, but they are pretty darn close. These apps aren't really a convenient way to take a rolling heart rate on your Whitney hike day, but if you are training on a budget and don't want to have to buy a heart monitor you take periodic readings on training hikes you can get used to knowing how your body feels when at different exertion levels.


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Re: Where to rest before the hike
Steve C #58961 07/02/21 10:16 AM
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Originally Posted by Steve C
:
If you can pack enough gear, you can camp one night up there -- all sites are one-nighters, and some are always available.
:

I've been curious, Steve. Why is camping at Horseshoe Meadow only one night?

I usually stay more than one night, although usually not in a dedicated camp site. My routine is to drive straight up there and spend the night. Drive to the visitor center (pre-COVID) and get the permit. Drive back and do a prep hike above 10k feet. Spend another night, wake up early and drive to the trailhead. After the hike, maybe spend another night in Horseshoe Meadow.

There are cars that park there for months -- I see them on successive trips months apart. Asked a USFS or BLM worker up there about this and he said that parking is always free (if you camp there is self-registration/fee paying; it even asks how many nights you are staying). He even seemed annoyed that I was asking.

Every time I look in the bear boxes I will see gear that indicates that the party will return 3-4 months later.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
futbol #58963 07/02/21 09:49 PM
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I really don't know why it's one-night only. Maybe so it remains available for people like us to come in and spend a night and move on. I'm sure it would rapidly become like all others--always full, if they changed that rule. The how many nights question is there probably because they use the same envelopes everywhere.

The parking is like every other trail head--lots of cars for hikers far out in the back country. I've never checked bear boxes, etc. Seems really odd for people to leave stuff for months--Food doesn't last that long, and if it isn't food, why is it in a bear box?

Re: Where to rest before the hike
Snacking Bear #58964 07/02/21 10:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Snacking Bear
Training for the New Alpinism by Authors House/Johnston
It's a small world. Steve House was my guide on Denali in 1995. An amazing guy, and he was only 24 at the time.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
Snacking Bear #58965 07/02/21 10:10 PM
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Originally Posted by Snacking Bear
Dr. Lankford with the save! Yeah, my equation would come out to -190 BPM for my max HR cry

Ummm.... Either you are -17 years old (that's a negative number!!) or you calculated wrong.
If you're 20, then (220-20) x .8 comes out to 160. If you are zero, the number is 176.

People definitely need to be able to carry on a conversation while hiking. But I always figured during an aerobic workout -- where I don't usually go for more than 30 minutes at one or more activities (I used to jog), I always figured if you could talk while doing it, you weren't working hard enough. Then, in the last minute of whatever I am doing, I like to really go at it. On an elliptical machine on a good day, I can get my HR up to 170 at the very end.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
bobpickering #58974 07/04/21 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by bobpickering
Originally Posted by Snacking Bear
Training for the New Alpinism by Authors House/Johnston
It's a small world. Steve House was my guide on Denali in 1995. An amazing guy, and he was only 24 at the time.

Bob refers to House as in House’s Chimney on K2. I have not been there!

Our rule of thumb numbers are just that, with plenty of individual variation.

Re: Where to rest before the hike
Steve C #58975 07/04/21 10:33 AM
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I was referring to my original equation which you noted I accidentally had flipped. I put age first. I was riffing on the fact that my calculation with the flipped equation would have been:

30 - 220 = -190


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