Which is Better for Acclimating?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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bsears95
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Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by bsears95 »

I plan to do a 14er soon, and I've definately been working my way up in altitude (2 weekends ago, I camped at 11,600ft and then hiked up to 13,500ft the next morning)

BUT, I want to be in better standing for the 14er and I see 2 (kind of 3) options.
1. I can go do a normal/slightly strenuous hike in the 12000ft range.
2. I can drive up Mt Evans and just sorta "hangout" at the summit for a few hours.
2.1. I can drive up Mt Evans, THEN jog around the parking lot for a bit to increase my heart rate and try and keep it more elevated (simulating a hike at that alt)

*if I drive up mt evans, I will have a 2nd with me to help keep an eye on me if I do "simulate" hiking and watch for AMS/drive me down the mtn so I don't need to drive*
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speth
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by speth »

You're kind of overthinking it, but I'd say option 1 is the best one. Strenuous activity in the Mt Evans parking lot isn't really going to do anything - they're just 14ers, not an alpine expedition.

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Dan_Suitor
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by Dan_Suitor »

What elevation do you live at? If you camped at 11,600 and hiked to 13,500 you should be good to go. Perhaps try working on your breathing by using high altitude breathing techniques on your next climb.
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huffy13
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by huffy13 »

I agree with speth. Option 1 sounds like your best option. I also think you are overthinking it a little, though it's good to be overprepared than underprepared when it comes to being at elevation. Not sure what 14er you are planning on tackling, but most have great low difficulty 12ers or 13ers in the general area that you could do to acclimate. If you've camped just under 12000 and hiked up to 13500, you've already got a good idea of what you need to do.
Seems like the times that I need a mountain the most are the times that I can not get to them.
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Trotter
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by Trotter »

speth wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 10:38 am You're kind of overthinking it, but I'd say option 1 is the best one. Strenuous activity in the Mt Evans parking lot isn't really going to do anything - they're just 14ers, not an alpine expedition.
+1
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nyker
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by nyker »

speth wrote: Mon Aug 15, 2022 10:38 am You're kind of overthinking it, but I'd say option 1 is the best one. Strenuous activity in the Mt Evans parking lot isn't really going to do anything - they're just 14ers, not an alpine expedition.
Well yeah it's not Denali but for someone who doesn't live at altitude nor goes to altitude often, going up and hiking strenuously above 12,000 ft could be very taxing and downright painful if AMS symptoms set in especially if they don't have a solid cardio base or don't ease into it.

To the Original poster's question, your excursion from camp up to 13.5k is good, you should just reproduce that wherever you can to help you acclimatize If you can do that repeatedly with no adverse effects you should be fine on a 14er.

Exerting yourself in hiking up towards a higher elevation will likely benefit you and prepare you better than just passively hanging out at 14K (although hanging out at 14K could be better than hanging out at sea level to prepare you All things equal) assuming you feel ok there and have a safe way to get down. I remember when I was on the top of Pikes once there was a guy there from Kansas doing the same thing- he got so sick and nauseous he was unable to safely drive down himself and we actually gave him a ride down to the base and he made arrangements to get his car at some point later.
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Jorts
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by Jorts »

If you do calisthenics around the Mt Evans summit parking lot can you be sure to film and share?
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Ptglhs
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by Ptglhs »

If you can hike to 13.5 you can do a 14er. There's less than 1k vertical difference to any of our peaks. Have you had bad experiences with altitude previosily? You seem very concerned about this, more so than prudence warrants.

I am of the opinion that anyone with moderate fitness who lives in the front range can do one of our less demanding 14ers in summer: Bierstadt, Sherman, Quandary, Handies, so long as they bring a couple liters of water and a windbreaker.

I've hiked with people who flew in from FL the previous day and made it up Elbert with no deleterious effects on their health.
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mtree
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by mtree »

As others have said, you're over thinking it. You've already answered your own questions.
Any exercise over 11-12,000 ft is helpful. Just go for it!
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speth
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by speth »

Jorts wrote: Tue Aug 16, 2022 7:24 am If you do calisthenics around the Mt Evans summit parking lot can you be sure to film and share?
Asking the important questions!

All I want is to just have fun, live my life like a son of a gun
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JQDivide
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by JQDivide »

The best way to get in hiking shape... is to go hike.
That includes acclimating.

Most people can hike one of the easier 14ers.
So, go hike a 14er. The next one will be easier.

Joel
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mikefromcraig
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Re: Which is Better for Acclimating?

Post by mikefromcraig »

You stated that you are "working your way up" to a 14er but it doesn't really work like that. If you mean you are working your way higher and higher to test out how you handle the elevation then that's fine. But it appears you think that you are building up resistance to the altitude. Hiking up to 13k and then waiting two weeks is going to do very little to improve your acclimatization as the minimal benefits from a one day hike will dissipate over two weeks.

Taking your question literally, I disagree with the people saying to go with #1. As stated in the question, if your sole purpose is to gain acclimatization, then you should go with #2. However, if you asked a different question about what's best to increase your odds of a successful 14er summit then yeah, #1 is best as you will be gaining fitness and hiking experience. [These comments are assuming that you would attempt the 14er a few days afterward.]

Also, a big mistake that you see on this forum a lot is the belief that sleeping high the night before a summit helps you acclimatize. If you take only one thing away from this thread, know that that is incorrect and counterproductive. That will only leave you in a diminished state to start out. Which means that when you camped at 11.5k and then hiked to 13k the next day you were likely making it harder on yourself than it needed to be. Which, since you didn't have a problem is actually good news in that it means you shouldn't have a problem with an easy 14er as long as you don't sleep so high the night before.
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