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Old 07-01-2015, 08:05 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by crispyboy View Post
I had the privilege of skiing for 3 days in Vail, CO. I felt ok as long as I didn't over do it. The more challenging slopes would have me breathing hard. On my last run of the day I decided to really hit it hard going down hill. I had to stop mid-way down and loose my lunch........ At least I felt better
And a lunch at Vail isn't a cheap thing to lose!

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Old 07-01-2015, 08:06 AM   #16
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It generally takes 1-2 weeks for the "normal" persons hematopoetic system to adjust to altitude changes. Red Blood Cells are created in the flat bones of the body, the skull, pelvis and ribs. It is not an instant adaptation.
Overweight, poorly conditioned, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and certain types medications factor in acclimatization time.
I remember my first climb in Big Bear, Ca up to nearly 10,500.... that was tough.
Hypoxia, (low O2), is assured at Altitudes Above 10,000, and for the unprepared and out of shape, can lead to a life threatening circumstance.

As long as you don't exert yourself to your limit, the fatigue and headaches wont be as bad. Listen to your body.

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Old 07-01-2015, 08:13 AM   #17
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We are in our 70's and live in Colorado at 8,600 feet. We hunt and hike and higher mountains nearby and have seen a few people suffering from altitude sickness some young and vigorous.
Most healthy people don't have problems but a few are affected and it is difficult to predict who will get it.
Vigorous physical activity shortly after reaching altitude is usually the catalyst for setting it off. The cases we have seen have involved skiing, hiking our hunting. Take at easy for a few days and ease into heavy duty activities.
Alcohol doesn't help at all. One too many will result in a headache and sleeplessness.
People with COPD or other breathing problems should venture to high altitudes with caution.
Once symptoms appear he best cure is to get to a lower elevation. Extreme cases are a serious medical problem. Even a few thousand feet helps. Rest and fluids also help reduce symptoms.
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:18 AM   #18
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Interesting thread. My first climb, many many years ago, was the Grand Teton and it took me three tries to summit, the first two scuttled because of altitude sickness. The second try I got sick at the Lower Saddle and was unable to proceed and couldn't even converse with a climber from England who wandered over to chat. I would have liked nothing more than to talk with that guy but couldn't even manage that. Had to descend. Third time was the charm and climbed the Exum Ridge on a bluebird day. I was in shape then and can confirm that altitude sickness hits randomly and is nothing to trifle with.

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Old 07-01-2015, 08:27 AM   #19
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I'm 63 and luckily do not seem to be affected adversely to higher altitudes except shortness of breath when hiking up switchbacks. Was able to hike Observation Point (8 miles), Angels Landing (5.5 miles) in Zion and Fairyland loop trail from North Campground (8 miles) in Bryce without issues. When we do hike we eat salty snacks, fruit and drink plenty of water. Drinking too much water without eating on the trail can cause problems. Wife passed out on the Highline trail (11 miles) on the downhill part from Granite Park Chalet to The Loop. Too much water and not enough salt intake throughout the day as we started at Logan Pass trailhead. She revived and was able to get down to The Loop where we picked up the shuttle back to Apgar.

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Old 07-01-2015, 09:27 AM   #20
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We live in Texas and have a vacation home near Breckenridge that sits above 10,000 feet. We don't make it there often enough to keep our high altitude conditioning from one trip to the next. But we no longer suffer when we go, which I think has a lot to do with our expectations. On our first trip, many years ago, we couldn't sleep and felt pretty bad. That feeling of being short of breath led to a sense of tenseness and almost panic, which of course just made it worse. Now we have confidence that if we are smart about it, any symptoms will quickly go away. We know that the first day or two will involve lounging around....not a bad thing! We pump liquids starting when we leave Texas, whether we drive or fly, including those with electrolytes. We don't overeat or drink liqour, and we expect to pee a LOT and have a passing headache or two. I think the fact that we know what to expect and aren't fearful really helps....but of course the reaction of people varies.

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Old 07-01-2015, 10:26 AM   #21
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A few years ago I was at a vintage rally in CO Springs, and pretty much had a mild annoying headache the whole time. Previously I'd spent a week in Denver on a business trip with no issues at all.

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Old 07-01-2015, 10:43 AM   #22
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One of the reasons altitude sickness usually comes on at night is that one tends to breathe more shallowly at night, so O2 intake goes down. Standard procedure in acclimatizing for climbing a high mountain is to carry gear up a thousand feet or so during the day and to sleep at a lower elevation at night. Another useful technique is called "power breathing." You breathe somewhat deeply, without exaggerating it, and then exhale with a puff like you were blowing out a candle. This creates back pressure in the lungs that increases O2 intake. It is said to be the equivalent of being 1,000' lower in elevation. This technique is most useful if started when the first onset of altitude sickness happens, and continued until you no longer have any symptoms and more or less forget to keep doing it because you don't need to anymore. Another useful technique is the mountaineer's rest step, but as this only applies to climbing a mountain, I won't go into it unless there is particular interest. Power breathing can be used by anyone under any circumstances. It's not a sure cure, but it helps.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:04 AM   #23
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A couple of days ago, the Wall Street Journal had a pretty good article on overcoming altitude sickness.

Climb Every Mountain, Without Altitude Sickness - WSJ

Among other things, the article said:


Researchers are still uncovering some of the mysteries of altitude-related health problems. Genetic factors seem to make some people less susceptible to altitude sickness. People over 50 have a slightly lower risk, perhaps because the brain shrinks slightly as it ages. Men and women seem to be equally at risk, although symptoms might be more severe in men. And, interestingly, people’s fitness levels seem to have little to do with who is susceptible.

“Altitude illness is caused by the interaction of genes and the environment, and it can happen to the sedentary executive or the triathlete,” says Peter Hackett, director of the nonprofit Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride, Colo.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:22 AM   #24
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I have done some extensive mountaineering. I take a few "real" aspirin a few days before I go up. Thins the blood and seems to hold oxygen better. Self remedy......

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Old 07-01-2015, 11:33 AM   #25
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I live in the Rockies at 8,000'. Having moved here from OK, it took awhile to adjust. Our ER is full all summer with folks experiencing the negative effects of altitude. The key to minimizing these effects is hydration. Drink plenty of water if you plan to visit. Drink two to three times more than you normally drink. And keep drinking it during your entire travels at altitude. Also, if you have issues with gout, it is even more necessary that you stay hydrated. Another factor is alcohol. If you drink alcohol, expect to feel the effects sooner and more heavely at higher altitudes.
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Old 07-01-2015, 11:35 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
Google Earth maps has a cool function. If you drag the cursor over a given location…It gives you the altitude on the bottom of the screen. It also gives latitude and longitude for you GPS users.

I learned that the top of my property was at 1200 feet and the bottom was at 1100 feet. It was actually useful info while I was designing a passive solar shower.
We use Google Earth quite a bit for elevations, but find that the routing functions are limited. A workaround is to save a route in Google Mapmaker, export it to a KML file, and then import that route file into Google Earth. Works well, and you can then turn on the elevation profile view to see what that day's route will be like. The attached screenshot is from a trip across Italy we did one month ago, cycling. The profile shown is from Day 2. All in, it was 550 km in 5 days, with 8000 meters of elevation gain (and descent, since we went coast to coast).

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Old 07-01-2015, 11:43 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Photobum View Post
I have done some extensive mountaineering. I take a few "real" aspirin a few days before I go up. Thins the blood and seems to hold oxygen better. Self remedy......
Hmmm....already artificially "thinned", I should be in great shape.

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Old 07-01-2015, 11:52 AM   #28
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I'm in Flagstaff for the summer, first week I had trouble sleeping due to my breathing.
I used to get off work @ 8:00am from Fairfield Ca, elev. 35', then drive the 2 1/2 hours to Alpine Meadows, base 7000'
I would find my Tahoe local buddies and away we would go, I would get soo winded from keeping up, between lack of sleep and altitude, I would be trashed by 3:00. By the third day of that week I could run with them all day.
I felt privileged to get to hammer the slopes with the locals, hike the ridges, steeps, trees, and OB, for I'd be dropped like a stone if I couldn't keep up.
Another thing I found out about altitude, meals eaten between altitude changes (say 6000') would tend to digest differently, and cause a more urgent purge outside my "normal" time frame.

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