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DayHiker.com • View topic - AMS

AMS

Forum 3 Description.

AMS

Postby ahikernamedgq » Sun Nov 16, 2003 12:39 am

DayHiker, when climbing a 14,000, what approach would you suggest for those of us living at a cozy, low (5ft above sea level) elevation?

Thanks,
AHikerNamedGQ
ahikernamedgq
 

Postby Bob T. » Tue Nov 25, 2003 6:56 am

What works for you depends on your body, so any generalizations won't necessarily apply. Maybe your body adapts to altitude so well that you don't need to follow general guidelines. Or maybe following the general guidelines won't help and you'll still get altitude sick.

That said, I would say first that it is foolish to go straight from living at sea level to hiking at 14,000 feet. Some acclimatization is very wise. The more you do, the less you will suffer from altitude.

Personally, I like to get in at least three or four days of hiking at altitude before going up to 14,000. A little warm up around 8,000 to 10,000, and getting some hiking in up to at least 12,000, before trying to go to 14,000. If I am sleeping at least at 8,000 feet, that is good, too, although if I am well acclimatized (e.g., hiking and sleeping at 10,000 or above for a week), and it is easy to sleep lower for a night before I go to 14,000, I might do that, too, to make me better prepared. In some places, it is difficult to do that, but in those rare instances where it is easy to be at lower elevation and I am well acclimatized, I will do that (if I am going to day hike, say, Longs Peak, it is logistically difficult to spend the night before hiking at a very low elevation, but if I am going to day hike, say, Mt. Whitney, I can logicstically stay in Lone Pine at around 3,000 feet the night before, but only if I am very well acclimatized).

No matter what, however, I would recommend being sure to stay well hydrated and to stay reasonably well fueled.

Some who don't have sufficient time to acclimatize like to take various substances, like acetazolamide (Diamox) or ginko biloba. Diamox requires a prescription and has various undesirable side effects (like numbness in extremities, and it is a diuretic so you pee more), but there are those who swear by it. If you want to try pills, I would go for ginko instead just to avoid the side effects of Diamox (generally seems to be taken at 120 mg twice a day starting 5 days before ascent, continuing through ascent). I have never tried pills personally, so I can't say much about them.

I personally have usually gotten well acclimatized, and the only time I ever had a problem was when I left sea level at 7 in the morning, started hiking at 11 a.m. from 10,000 ft. and went up to 13,000 by 2 p.m.

Some general information can be found at but their guidelines for avoiding AMS there seem to basically mention sleeping elevations rather than hiking elevations.

My experience with day hiking is that I can go to 10,000 easily, and I should do that for a couple of days before graduating to 12,000, and I should do that a couple of days before graduating to 14,000. Even more time makes 14,000 even easier. But it is so personal to your body that it is impossible to give advice that will necessarily work for you.
Bob T.
 


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