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#8713 - 10/27/10 08:50 AM 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice
Woody Offline


Registered: 10/22/10
Posts: 4
Loc: San Diego, CA.
Hey all,

Thanks for excellent recent advice on contacting the USDA regarding permits. It looks like we will need to submit a Special Use Application (FS-2700--3c). To do so we need to make some logistics decisions pretty quickly though. Once again I'm hoping to impose on you to provide some insight and recommendations.

Our Trip Plan is being developed and will institute parameters for two Teams to ascend Mt Whitney via the Main Trail. While an out and back 22 mile evolution (Trailhead to summit and return) is more of a challenge, in the spirit of the event (9-11 Memorial) we are considering approaching this in two Phases. Phase I would be a competitively timed summit, and Phase II we would be a return together as a group. This would allow the Firefighters to challenge themselves as well as a relaxed time of reflection and fellowship at the summit and on the return leg. The basic parameters we are working with are:
- A Summit Team will consist of (4) Firefighters
- Teams will carry a prescribed load
- Time begins when last Firefighter crosses the Start
- Time ends when last Firefighter touches the Summit Marker.
- A Support Team will consist of a Firefighter & Official.
- The Summit Lead Team will consist of a Firefighter & Official
- Summit Teams are "unsupported" unless a medical or other emergency requires Support Team to assist.
- Total party = 14 on Mountain (2 at Base Camp)

The model we are using for planning purposes consists of:

ADMIN GROUP:
- Base Camp Manager
- Medical Director
(Note: Admin Group remains at Base)

SUMMIT GROUP
- Summit Team A (4 Firefighters)
- Support Team A (Paramedic & Official)
- Summit Team B (4 Firefighters)
- Support Team B (Paramedic & Official)
- Summit Leader (Summit Leader & Chief Official)


I first would like your feedback on the format and parameters we are considering...

What do you think of the proposed format?

How would you do this differently, and why?


The second part we need advice with is in logistics: We plan to travel for an advanced party to arrive in Lone Pine three days in advance to prepare for the Summit and Support Teams to arrive and they will need some basic functions such as a small meeting space, cell service and internet capability, etc. My question here would be...

Where would you suggest our Administrative and Support Staff to stay in the Lone Pine area?

We plan for the Firefighters who comprise the Summit and Support Teams to arrive two days in advance for final preparations. We want them to be comfortable and enjoy their experience while gaining the most benefit of acclimation. While it's up to the discretion of the participating Team Leaders...

How would recommend to the participants to structure their acclimation days for most physiological benefit and performance assessment (e.g. Training Runs, Hikes...)?

Would you have participants stay in lodging in Lone Pine or camp at the Trailhead, and why?

If you chose lodging... Which of the Lone Pine's lodging options (Hotel/Motel/Inn) would you recommend?

If you chose to camp... Which of the Park's overnight facilities would you recommend?


Regardless of whether we stay in Lone Pine or camp...

What parking restrictions should we anticipate and can you offer any mitigation strategies?

As we plan this we are keeping in mind the effect our group may have on the area during that time of the season. It is our intent to not impact the wilderness area or other users. We are a 'Green Organization' and are cognizant and sensitive to others but beyond that...

Do you have any recommended strategies minimize impact on the area, or 'pet peeves' that we can enforce to ensure we are good stewards of the Mountains resources and positive contributors to the Park?

I know the above is much to digest and consider and thank you in advance for any advice and assistance.


Have a great day!

Woody

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#8715 - 10/27/10 09:11 AM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Woody]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Yes, much to digest! Here are some starting comments...

I was worried about your total group size. But 14 is certainly not too large a group.

As to the competitive part, the National Forest has a policy against contests. In the past, there were Badwater to Whitney summit contests, but now they stop at the Portal. But in your case, you only have two teams competing, so that would just be between members of your own party, so it isn't an open contest. I certainly wouldn't make the competition a large part of your publicity, though.

As for lodging, I am sure others will chime in. I've stayed at Doug's Whitney Portal Hostel in Lone Pine -- it is a true hostel setup, where you can rent by the bed, or an entire room. It is a clean and simple facility. Otherwise, you have a choice in a number of motels.

I would stress, for the people going to the summit, that they learn about the effects of the altitude, and the symptoms of AMS. Although some people are not affected at the 14,500 elevation, a majority are. Some are really hit hard just after 12,500. That being the case, I would highly recommend acclimatization, the best would be to stay two nights at Horseshoe Meadows (10,000'), a walk-in campground area about 35 minutes out of Lone Pine (Start up the Whitney Portal road, then turn south). There are some nice conditioning or warmup hiking opportunities there (Cottonwood Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass & Trail Peak)

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#8717 - 10/27/10 10:59 AM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Steve C]
Bulldog34 Offline


Registered: 11/12/09
Posts: 1255
Loc: Atlanta
Originally Posted By: Steve C
I would stress, for the people going to the summit, that they learn about the effects of the altitude, and the symptoms of AMS. Although some people are not affected at the 14,500 elevation, a majority are. Some are really hit hard just after 12,500. That being the case, I would highly recommend acclimatization, the best would be to stay two nights at Horseshoe Meadows (10,000'), a walk-in campground area about 35 minutes out of Lone Pine (Start up the Whitney Portal road, then turn south). There are some nice conditioning or warmup hiking opportunities there (Cottonwood Lakes, Cottonwood Pass, Trail Pass & Trail Peak)


Woody, big ole ditto to that recommendation by Steve. Experience at altitude and acclimation plans were the two big questions that jumped out at me. These guys may be exceptional endurance athletes, but that means little to nothing if altitude sickness (AMS) grabs hold of someone. Many strong, confident marathoners have been humbled by high altitude, and the majority of the research indicates that there's just not a lot of correlation between conditioning and the propensity to avoid altitude issues. Spending a couple of nights at or above 8000 feet before the ascent should be a very high priority. Either that, or have lots of Diamox on hand.

If someone is hit hard by AMS, it's really not a matter of just sending them back down. For safety's sake at least one other person should accompany them. The symptoms can be brutally bad and come on quickly, compromising the person's ability to negotiate a descent safely by themselves.

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#8718 - 10/27/10 11:31 AM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Woody]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 832
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
You know what I am thinking?

Let's see...

My calendar is like WAY open for September 2011.

Maybe the WZ can provide volunteer "morale" support like

"Get Some Whitney!"

Get up on/off that!

Did I say that?

Secure permits...summit not a priority...provide assistance if necessary on the trail...etc...

Like I said...

Just a thought...






Have fun...
_________________________
Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#8728 - 10/27/10 04:52 PM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Woody]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 595
Loc: Manchester, NH
First - I think you need to be clear about what the real goals are. Your stated purpose is that it's a memorial to fire fighters who died in 9/11. But, from your description of the teams and logistics, it's seems to be more a competition between teams of firefighters. You guys can do whatever the hell you want as far as I'm concerned, but it's confusing to this reader as to what you're trying to accomplish.

As far as the logistics are concerned - I can't add much to Steve's comments. There are several places to stay in Lone Pine, and I'd second the Hostel as a place to stay. The lobby has a large meeting area, and am reasonably sure there's a WIFI connection.

The best thing you can do in preparation is to hike, at least once a week, for 6 months (even longer is better) before doing Whitney. This assumes that none of your firefighters are regular hikers. Running helps build fitness, but it can't completely replace hiking. Do 2-3K' of elevation over a 10-12 mile RT hike on a weekly basis, and get in at least a couple of hikes where you do upwards of 6K' and 15-18 miles so people know what a more difficult hike entails. Once you've achieved a certain level of fitness, doing a big peak is mostly a head game anyway. And don't overtrain - the week before Whitney just stay rested.

And, as Steve points out - getting acclimated to altitude at someplace like Cottonwood would be a big help, but that adds 2-3 days to be of much help, which is a big time commitment and you may not have the luxury.

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#8735 - 10/27/10 06:23 PM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Woody]
VersatileFred Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 130
Loc: SoCal
Originally Posted By: Woody
What do you think of the proposed format?

How would you do this differently, and why?


From personal experience, it is really hard to stick together above Trail Camp, particularly in the 97 switchbacks. There really are a lot of things to consider.

So, what additional requirements are you imposing on the support teams other than to be around in case of emergency? What happens if a support team lags behind? What if a support team has an emergency? What additional requirements are you imposing on the summit team? Those are some questions to ask.

What would I change? I would consider something like a layered "buddy system." I found it easier to manage groups of two where each pair is responsible for monitoring one another. Would that inspire a gaming mentality among your hikers? I do not know. (If you watched the episode of "Biggest Loser" last night there were all sorts of strategies exposed and some of them backfired).


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#8741 - 10/27/10 09:37 PM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Woody]
steelfrog Offline


Registered: 04/08/10
Posts: 28
Loc: Texas
I have read that it takes between 2 and 3 weeks for a sea level body to acclimatize. I suggest you investigate bringing along Diamox for the group. I use (as needed) 1/4 of a 250 mg pill per every 3-4 hours. Diamox is a mild diuretic that counteracts the edema that is the hallmark of AMS/HAPE/HACE. Mild side effects include more urinating and sometimes a tinny taste to carbonated drinks.

The altitude issue should be taken very seriously, not only for success of trip but for safety. A guy died last year at 10k with HAPE attempting Williamson I believe; he had come from Philly and headed up same day.

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#8743 - 10/27/10 10:12 PM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Steve C]
Bee Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1261
Loc: Northern California
Steve, could the group ease onto the trail over a period of a couple of days (like we did) (in case there is an overload on the permits) but all have the same exit day, so that while group one is acclimatizing on the trail, another group could be at HSM waiting to enter the next day? They could arrange to all meet at a place on the trail and then start their event? I am just thinking that it might be difficult to win 14 spots on the same day.
_________________________
The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.

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#8744 - 10/27/10 11:54 PM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Bee]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7742
Loc: Fresno, CA
Steelfrog's statement about acclimatization taking weeks are true if you want to measure the blood's oxygen-carrying capacity -- it increases very slowly in response to someone's transition to a high-altitude residence. However, that oxygen-carrying capacity is not the problem when hiking Whitney. It is rather, the AMS symptoms people need to avoid. These can usually be alleviated for most people by acclimating for 24 to 36 hours at elevation.

As for Diamox, I had to go searching for steelfrog's mentioning its counteracting edema (fluid retention), and I did find it -- suggested as a possible drug to treat edema related to Congestive Heart Failure. The same article mentions its use in helping with mountain sickness.

But the explanation I have seen most often is its effect on the pH levels in the blood. It causes the kidneys to excrete bicarbonate, resulting in a more acidic blood pH. Blood becomes less acidic due to the hyperventilation caused by hikers sucking air at altitude. The lower acidity causes one set of receptors in the body to reduce breathing and oxygen intake, especially during rest and sleep. Taking Diamox counteracts this blood pH problem, thereby restoring breathing levels during sleep. Here are two references:
    Diamox: Altitude
    Acetazolamide (from Wikipedia)

If taking Diamox before a high-altitude hike, most hikers will take the lowest dosage recommended: half a 250 mg tablet once or twice a day. When people complain about the side effects, it is usually because they took huge doses, 500 to 1000 mg per day, recommended by some (Drugs.com/Diamox).

Regarding Bee's talk of permits and entering on different days, that is a possibility if Woody does not get his special use permit, and therefore needs to enter the lottery. Woody, if you enter the Lottery in February, your chances of getting all 14 day hike permits for a Saturday in September are iffy. We can address that issue if the conditional use option fails.

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#8745 - 10/28/10 04:18 AM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Steve C]
Wayne Offline
deceased

Registered: 11/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Charlotte, NC
Thanks, Steve. Great information for informed and not so informed mountaineers.

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#8767 - 10/29/10 08:36 AM Re: 9-11 Ten Year Memorial Summit - Trip Planning Advice [Re: Steve C]
wbtravis Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 1253
Loc: Corner of Jack Benny and Roche...
Steve,

As we have discussed, I take a quarter pill X 2 the first day because I get to feeling funky taking a half. Taking a half does cut the side effects way down but does not eliminate them.

Just because you are taking Diamox, it doesn't mean all the AMS symptoms miraculously go away. I regularly have problems sleeping, especially above 11,000', intermittent problems with appetite at 14,000' mid-day and appetite in general if I over exert myself...this year it occurred when I summitted both Pickering and Cloudripper...my appetite always returns by morning.

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