Diamox questions.

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.
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Re: Diamox questions.

Post by AlmostThere » Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:10 pm

takotruckin wrote:
AlmostThere wrote:Acclimation doesn't work that way - each trip you start over again when you go back down to low elevation.
I have not found that to be true. I usually get a little sick my first 1 or 2 weekend trips of the year (over 7 or 8k), and then I am fine the rest of the summer.
I'm only quoting literature for wilderness medicine coursework... There's a quite detailed description of what happens to a body at high elevation in NOLS Wilderness Medicine. Among the pages it also says

"The body undergoes numerous changes at higher elevation in order to increase oxygen delivery to cells and improve the efficiency of oxygen use. These adaptations usually begin almost immediately and continue to occur for several weeks. People vary in their ability to acclimatize. Some adjust quickly; others fail to acclimatize, even with gradual exposure over a period of weeks. In general, the body becomes approximately 80 percent acclimatized after 10 days at altitude and approximately 95 percent acclimatized by 6 weeks. The respiratory rate peaks in about 1 week and then slowly decreases over the next few months, although it tends to remain higher than its normal rate at sea level. When we descend, we begin losing our hard-won adaptations at approximately the same rate at which we gained them; 10 days after returning to sea level, we have lost 80 percent of our adaptations."


"Altitude illness results from a lack of oxygen in the body. Anyone who ascends to high altitude will become hypoxic (the condition of having insufficient oxygen in the blood). Why some people become ill and others don't is not known. It is known, however, that most people who become ill do so within the first few days of ascending to altitude."

Advice given is to eat a high carb diet, as they require less oxygen to metabolize, eating fats and proteins on rest days - but not at night as that increases risk of altitude illness, as the combination of decreased respiratory rate during sleep and increased requirement for oxygen to metabolize fats/proteins is a double whammy. Climb high, sleep low. Ascend slowly. Hydrate. Avoid sleeping pills.

The advice about carbs is echoed in Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills as well.

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Re: Diamox questions.

Post by Wandering Daisy » Sat Jun 14, 2014 8:45 pm

Theory aside, many mountaineers I have climbed with and myself included, have done better with acclimation over time. I think there are a lot of subtle things going on. First, you learn to adjust pace better as you become more experienced and in shape. Second, having "been there and done that" you are more mentally prepared for the effects of altitude. I think your body also gains experience at physiologically adjusting. And you subconsciously are more careful about hydrating, eating properly, etc. And you age. Older people tend to have less altitude sickness than younger people. My first altitude sickness was upon reaching the top of Mt. Rainier (when I was 16) and eating an entire can of greasy sardines- not the best choice of a snack at 14,000 feet! More appropriate snacks on Mt Hood the following year and I did not get altitude sick. More recently, I pushed it a little too much when I had an unusually heavy pack. I stopped, hydrated with soup, and got it under control and spent the night short of my goal.

There are a group of people who do very poorly at altitude no matter what. I am lucky that I am not one of them. For them Diamox may be a godsend. For the rest of us, I feel that working on techniques that mitigate altitude problems is a better approach.

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