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#52749 - 03/23/18 07:56 AM summiting Whitney after heart attack
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Murrieta, CA
a few years back while I was summiting Whitney with Bulldog34, I ran across a guy from Australia who had open heart surgery only a year ealier. I had been looking for him, had conversations on this forum, and was incredibly impressed with him. Well, a few years later, turns out this guy, me, who works out 5/6 times a week, puts in a few miles a day, has a heart attack, and ends up in the hospital in critical condition, and has two stents placed in an artery that had 100% blockage. Well, now, I'm thinking of hiking Whitney again, just as I did after cancer, and after a total hip replacement. So, the journey begins.
If any of you have summited after a heart attack, I would love your advice.
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#52750 - 03/23/18 10:39 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: quillansculpture]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 342
Loc: Reno, Nevada
This isn’t a direct answer to your question, but I think you’ll find it interesting, if not helpful.

Many years ago, Vic was into hiking and mountaineering. Like many Reno locals, he liked to climb nearby Mt. Rose, which is 10,776’ and over 3,000’ of gain by the route we used. He got the idea to see how long he could go climbing it at least once a month, including in the winter.

Climbing Mt Rose every month is quite an accomplishment in itself, but during that time, Vic had two eye surgeries (one successful), two knee surgeries, and a heart attack. The heart attack was minor, and it occurred on the way down Mt. Rose, early in the month. Vic quit smoking and started taking better care of himself. He was back on top of Mt. Rose again before the end of the next month, keeping his streak alive.

A few months later, Vic left work a little early and drove to Whitney Portal. He started up the Mountaineers’ Route alone in the dark. It was early March, still in winter. When he got to the top, he called one of his buddies and left a voicemail: it began with “Hey, *ucker! Guess where I am!” Vic hiked back down and drove home.

Vic kept the Mt. Rose streak going for 14 years before he lost interest in climbing and switched to cycling. That was a mistake. He never got hurt climbing, but he recently suffered multiple fractures in one leg in a low-speed bike crash on some ice.

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#52751 - 03/23/18 07:12 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: bobpickering]
Paul Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 183
Loc: Santa Clarita, CA
Great story Bob......and there's always the Bob Rockwell story. As for me, A-Fib..... Still hiking.

paul

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#52756 - 03/24/18 06:37 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: bobpickering]
RenoFrank Offline


Registered: 08/06/11
Posts: 423
Loc: Reno, NV
Side note to Bob. I'm curious about your 3,000' gain route up Mt. Rose. I've been up there via four different routes, the longest starting at Galena Creek Park. Did you start by the NDOT station?

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#52759 - 03/24/18 10:01 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: quillansculpture]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 590
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: quillansculpture

If any of you have summited after a heart attack, I would love your advice.


Have had two heart attacks, one in '93, the other in 2001. In between those two dates, I summited Whitney twice, and since 2001 have summited it 18 times (lived in Inyokern for 7 years). I don't track how many 14'ers since '93 I've done (would have to consult my spreadsheet), but a WAG would be about 75, and did Kilimanjaro (20K' +/-) 2 years ago (was 68). Am I a super athlete - no, not in the least. Am about 15lbs overweight (working on that...) I hike, on average, twice a week, each hike averaging 10 miles, and 3-5K' elevation gain. That includes winter hiking (I live in New England now). On average, I hike/trek about 800 miles a year. Am I unusual in terms of heart disease - no to that also. I know many hikers (nearly all men) who've had MI's, stents, bypasses, ablations, etc. There are so many variations of heart disease and treatment I've learned not to generalize. What I do know is this - the heart (and body) is a wonderful thing, and given an opportunity the heart will grow capillaries around blockages if given enough time. The 1st MI was severe - had to be defibrillated 3 times, and my heart had stopped long enough to sustain damage which initially reduced heart function about 30%. The 2nd MI was much milder - a blockage (85%) was quickly located and a stent inserted. Now, 25 years later, my cardiologist says that based upon echocardiograms, my heart shows little/no evidence of the 2 MI's. What does slow me down in the damage to my lungs from 25 years of smoking 2+ packs/day which I did from college until the first MI.

You asked for advice, so here's two points ... choose (if you haven't already) a cardiologist who understands how critical staying active is to your well-being. If possible, find one who is a high altitude climber him/herself. The cardiologist who treated me in the ER and then for several years when I lived in VT had climbed several 20K' peaks in South America during med school, and was a huge source of encouragement. Five years after the first MI, when I'd become a proficient hiker/mountaineer, I told him I was planning a month-long road trip to do Longs, Adams (WA), Rainier, Shasta and Whitney, he wrote an Rx - "Have a great trip!", which remained tacked to the 'frig for at least 20 years. The other bit of advice - do your own hike/trip/whatever. Life, and climbing a mountain, is not a competition. Know your limits, and what brings you joy. And, if necessary, remind yourself that it's the journey, not the destination.

Am in admiration of the challenges you've faced, and hope the above will provide some assurances that an MI does not necessarily mean your hiking days are over.

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#52760 - 03/24/18 10:57 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: RenoFrank]
bobpickering Offline


Registered: 02/07/10
Posts: 342
Loc: Reno, Nevada
Originally Posted By: RenoFrank
Side note to Bob. I'm curious about your 3,000' gain route up Mt. Rose. I've been up there via four different routes, the longest starting at Galena Creek Park. Did you start by the NDOT station?

For many years, we started at the hairpin turn just below the NDOT station and the Sky Tavern ski area. Vic usually started there, but he started from Galena Creek Park a few times. One time, he started from his house, which is east of the Thomas Creek trailhead.

We even held annual races between IGT employees starting there. The races involved endless trash-talking, ball-busting, and crazy bets. I won $40 from one guy where my handicap was that I had to carry a 33-pound pack. In 2001 I won $100 from a relay team of four much younger guys. I don’t think any of the old IGT regulars climb that route anymore. I usually start from the Mt. Rose summit and include Church Peak when I go.

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#52761 - 03/24/18 11:16 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: bobpickering]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 590
Loc: Manchester, NH
Steve C - perhaps you can create a new thread for the Mt Rose discussion to keep the thread on topic, which is an important one for those dealing with heart disease. Ideally, others with it will post their experiences about living with heart disease and hiking/mountaineering without having to wade thru extraneous topics, as interesting as they are! smile

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#52763 - 03/24/18 02:22 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: KevinR]
Steve C Offline


Registered: 09/22/09
Posts: 7481
Loc: Fresno, CA
Kevin, the Mt Rose topic is a subset of this one: What people do to keep their heart and body in good shape. I don't think the topic will stray too far off.

You yourself are an incredible inspiration. 2+ packs!!!??? OMG, man, you must have been trying to kill yourself, and I guess you nearly succeeded. The turn-around you made is a heck of a great inspiration. I am envious of your several hikes a week. One of these years, I'll have to try to retire and see if I can match half of what you do.

Pickering's weekly hikes are really impressive, too. I don't want to hijack this thread, but I think I'm going to need a TKR (on my knee) if I am going to keep going like you guys. It's falling apart this spring.

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#52771 - 03/25/18 09:30 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: KevinR]
quillansculpture Offline


Registered: 11/13/09
Posts: 558
Loc: Murrieta, CA
KevinR... I remember your posts from years ago, when I was making my first attempt to summit. A few weeks after my first goal to summit Whitney, I was diagnosed with melanoma, and plans had to be put back a bit. I also needed a total hip replacment, and made the decision to hold off hip surgery for three years. I was blessed to have friends around me, many from this board who followed my jurney, and with luck and lots of God's grace, I summited on my second try (all within a month), 11 months after a total hip replacement. I've summited just 5 times, and fell in love with the Mountaineer's Route after the first try and never wanted to do the main trail again. Well, that's changed, and my plans are just to go as far as I can on the main trail, and, as you said, enjoy the journey.
Your post brought a fullness in my heart, shared a safe I needed to see. I showed your post to my girlfriend, as I know how concerned she is for my safety, and all I could hear her say was "wow"... And then she said maybe I might have the pleasure of meeting you on a trail someday. I need to thank you for your words, as they help not just me, but my gf, my friends and family as I hit the trails here in SoCal, with that dream of Whitney one more time. You truly are an inspiration, and thank you for writing and saying exactly what I needed to hear.
_________________________
"Turtles, Frogs & other Environmental Sculpture"

www.quillansculpturegallery.com
twitter: @josephquillan

If less is more, imagine how much more, more is -Frasier

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#52779 - 03/26/18 03:57 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: quillansculpture]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 590
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: quillansculpture
KevinR... I remember your posts from years ago, when I was making my first attempt to summit. A few weeks after my first goal to summit Whitney, I was diagnosed with melanoma, and plans had to be put back a bit. I also needed a total hip replacment, and made the decision to hold off hip surgery for three years. I was blessed to have friends around me, many from this board who followed my jurney, and with luck and lots of God's grace, I summited on my second try (all within a month), 11 months after a total hip replacement. I've summited just 5 times, and fell in love with the Mountaineer's Route after the first try and never wanted to do the main trail again. Well, that's changed, and my plans are just to go as far as I can on the main trail, and, as you said, enjoy the journey.
Your post brought a fullness in my heart, shared a safe I needed to see. I showed your post to my girlfriend, as I know how concerned she is for my safety, and all I could hear her say was "wow"... And then she said maybe I might have the pleasure of meeting you on a trail someday. I need to thank you for your words, as they help not just me, but my gf, my friends and family as I hit the trails here in SoCal, with that dream of Whitney one more time. You truly are an inspiration, and thank you for writing and saying exactly what I needed to hear.


You're quite welcome. Glad you found it useful. Perhaps as we get a little closer to the most active part of the Whitney hiking "season" that others with cardiac issues will share their stories.

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#52782 - 03/26/18 08:53 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: KevinR]
WanderingJim Offline


Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 214
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: KevinR

You're quite welcome. Glad you found it useful. Perhaps as we get a little closer to the most active part of the Whitney hiking "season" that others with cardiac issues will share their stories.


Fortunately not heart problems, but I got into hiking because I was grossly overweight and probably heading to nowhere.

Decided I had to do something, so got into walking around my condo complex.

Which led to walks along some of the bay area trails.

Which led to longer walks around California.

Which led me to realizing I could also climb in altitude during my hikes (it was getting hard to find flat trails smile ).

Somewhere along the line I hit the top of Whitney and was 85 pounds lighter than when I started my short walks.

Not planning on stopping anytime soon. smile

Just have to go further to find higher challenges.


(unfortunately, I've got some winter weight right now that I have to walk off to get down to my 'Whitney' weight.)
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http://wandering.earth

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#52790 - 03/28/18 04:44 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: WanderingJim]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1004
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
KevinR's story and encouragement is wonderful. Think of all those people who sit in a barcalounger doing nothing and have heart attacks. Sedentary life before and after their MI did not help them.

Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) whether from high altitude or lack of blood flow in subacute coronary occlusion stimulates angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth)

I have not had an MI but I send my orthopedist postcards from where I am not supposed to be, including Whitney and higher. You only live once - go for it.

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#52801 - 03/29/18 03:27 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: Harvey Lankford]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 590
Loc: Manchester, NH
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
...Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) whether from high altitude or lack of blood flow in subacute coronary occlusion stimulates angiogenesis (new blood vessel growth)
Thanks for that info. Have often wondered about how the heart/body is triggered to generate new blood vessel growth.

And thanks for all the info you've shared over the years with acclimatization. A couple of years ago on Kilimanjaro, the night before we summitted, the O2 saturation level of our party of six was tested after dinner (as per the guide company's protocol). I was amazed that everyone's, including 3 of the party who were newbies, measured in the mid 90's. I attributed it to our slow, methodical ascent and the daily use of diamox.

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#52803 - 03/29/18 07:48 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: Harvey Lankford]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 821
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Originally Posted By: Harvey Lankford
...You only live once - go for it.


Great advice from a doctor. thanks
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Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#52804 - 03/29/18 08:05 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: + @ti2d]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1004
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
That's an easy one, eh?

I mentioned Hypoxia-Induced Factors(HIFs) because of Whitney height, but there is an explosion of discovery of similar small hormones and translational factors in cardiology and oncology. We are learning more about how vascular endothelium (lining of blood vessels)can regenerate

...... now if there was something for knee cartilage.....

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#52809 - 03/29/18 10:25 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: Harvey Lankford]
+ @ti2d Offline


Registered: 10/22/09
Posts: 821
Loc: Oh Cursed, USA
Glucosamine? cool
_________________________
Have fun and enjoy the Gr8 Yd Opn.

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#52810 - 03/29/18 10:55 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: + @ti2d]
Harvey Lankford Offline


Registered: 11/10/09
Posts: 1004
Loc: Richmond, Virginia
worthless to eat animal cartilage.

sort of like eating pig brains to make you smarter.

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#52856 - 04/05/18 06:21 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: quillansculpture]
HikerJessica Offline


Registered: 04/05/18
Posts: 5
Loc: Bay Area, California
I'm a kidney transplant recipient with 60% pulmonary function and a stent in my superior vena cava, which collapsed after two years of dialysis. (No history of heart attack, though.) It was when I was diagnosed as being in pulmonary decline that I started hiking. That year, I attempted Half Dome and had to be rescued by rangers with oxygen about two-thirds of the way up. Two months later I made it to the top, and now five years later, I've done Mt. Whitney thirteen times and Mt. Kilimanjaro once. I'm convinced that I'm still here because of Whitney. Talk to your doctor, and then go for it with all the necessary precautions in place.

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#52871 - 04/10/18 10:19 AM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: HikerJessica]
KevinR Offline


Registered: 11/03/09
Posts: 590
Loc: Manchester, NH
That's remarkable, Jessica - kudo's for your determination. When you hike Whitney, are you doing them as multidays, dayhikes or some other variation?

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#52883 - 04/12/18 07:43 PM Re: summiting Whitney after heart attack [Re: KevinR]
HikerJessica Offline


Registered: 04/05/18
Posts: 5
Loc: Bay Area, California
Thank you - kudos to you, too. I've done both. But the day hike is brutal on me, despite the obviously light load you can carry when doing it that way. I prefer staying at least one night at Trail Camp, and two if I'm being honest.

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