Acclimatization

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #3288
    Max McKee
    Participant

    I have a question about acclimatization. I am currently training to climb all of California’s 14ers, I’m two down (White Mountain and Shasta) with an unsuccessful attempt on Mt. Sill, conditions were no good for my chosen route, I was as fit as ever and had just come back from a success on Shasta thanks to my training bible, New Alpinism.

    My time has become quite restricted due to family life, which gives me the need to go out to these peaks with only one or two days. On my previous two 14ers, I camped at roughly 10,000 feet the night before, and then made for the summit. It worked great and I always felt very strong at the summit. Now, that plan is much less possible and my best (only?) strategy is to leave at say, Friday night, drive the 5-7 hours to the trail head, run up to the summit, and head home.I have had success with this strategy on lower, 10 and 11,000 foot peaks.

    So my question is would it be possible to go from sea level (where I live) to over 14,000 feet within a 24 hour period? Without any serious altitude related side effects or being slowed to a sloths pace? I know top athletes have tackled much greater objectives than this, but I have not been able to find much information on this.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 12 months ago by Max McKee.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 4 months ago by Seth Keena-Levin.

Posted In: Mountaineering

  • Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #3296

    Max:
    Acclimatization is a very individual process and despite all the research that has been done, we still do not fully understand it. One thing that seems to hold true, although I know of no studies of why it holds true, is that the more times you go to altitude, even when spaced out by weeks and months the easier you adjust. Many climbers have noticed this effect. The good news is that by the time you reach your goal of climbing all of the CA 14ers you are probably going to be much more comfortable going from sea level to 14,000 feet. The bad news is that you are going probably suffer some horrendous headaches and other symptoms of Acute Mountain Sickness while doing so. It sounds like you have a pretty good feel for a moderate altitudes already up to 11,000 feet. AMS can turn in to cerebral edema or pulmonary edema fairly quickly but with a one day ascent the most you are likely to suffer is a wicked headache and some stomach distress. Your pace will have to slow at these altitude and without good acclimatization it may slow dramatically. One last point is that in my experience racing up to and down from altitude before your body has a chance to react too strongly is better than sleeping one night at at the 10k level you mention. Sleeping at 10k you’ll have a crummy night of sleep and that additional time of exposure to altitude will be long enough to set off some of the body’s very strong negative reactions to an unaccustomed altitude. Your light and fast plan sounds like the way to go. Just take your favorite headache pills.

    Scott Johnston

    Participant
    Max McKee on #3298

    Thanks for your advice Scott!!! It is much appreciated!

    Keymaster
    Steve House on #3419

    Hi Max,
    I wanted to add that you will be able to go up to 14K as long as you can quickly get back down low again. During these quick up and baks you will probably notice that you’ll feel worse several hours after you’re on the summit. Expect this period of discomfort and just keep moving down and you’ll be fine.

Viewing 3 replies - 1 through 3 (of 3 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.