T Nation

Train for High Altitude - Live at Sea Level


#1

I will be doing a Mt. Whitney day hike in August. The 22 mile round trip starts at about 8,000 ft elevation and ends at over 14,000 feet elevation.

What's the best approach to train for this when living at sea level (San Diego)?

I'm an avid hiker and backpacker, so I know what I'm getting into and I'm not worried about finishing the hike. I've also done plenty of high altitude hiking so I know that the altitude won't make me sick.

I don't have time to spend at the elevation and acclimate, other than the arriving the night before. I will be camping at the base. Is it possible to do some type of training that will help with this, without having to purchase any special equipment?


#2

MrMuzik: killerDIRK here of Mammoth Lakes ,ca Elevation 8000ft ! I also was the Head Boot Fitter at Adventure 16 mission gorge from 1998-2002.
Let me give you the whole breakdown:
Training: Use Cowles Mtn of of Navajo and mission gorge for some good trail hiking as this is what you will encounter. Where a pack starting with the weight you intend to carry on summit day. As the months progress, add weight slowly but consistently so by the end of JULY you are at a weight twice what you will carry. From now until the 1st week of Aug, get your mileage built up. This cannot be underestimated. You are in essence walking a Marathon but between 8000 and 14,500 ft. So If you have to, break out the calendar and retro engineer from the week before summit atempt back to now and slowly build up your mileage. So over 20 weeks you will build from cowles maybe two trips to about 5 if memory serves.
You do have a few trail options up cowles, or Mt Soledad (via Capri, Nautilus, south side out of PB). Just keep it FUN.

Understand that getting to the Top is only Half of it. Coming down is what is going to destroy your legs ! When walk Up something you are only putting ONE bodyweight through your limb. Yet when you come down you can depending on steepness of terrain put as much as FIVE TIMES your bodyweight through your limb. Over the course of 11 miles downhill that can cause traumatic issues to the ankles, knees and hips. Along with the Lumbar/sacral area.

This is not to scare you, this is to inform you of what “could” happen. Thus the need for proper training.

Not make sure that you are properly Hydrated as well a solid 7-10 days before you get there. The reason for this, is typically the humidity level is about 9-20%. Low enough that you will not necesarily notice the sweat. Drink 3l the day before you leave. Take a water filter with you. Packing 1.5 gallons (yes gallons) sucks. But if you can filter on the way, it gives you a chance to take a break and rest. Just do not rest more than 10 minutes at any one time. Entropy can set in quick.

Do NOT radically change your diet before or during the trip. Eat reasonably. Beef Jerky on the trail, along with trailmix and some fresh fruit or veggies usually does the trick, for anyone anywhere.

Pack some light storm clothing. I have seen it snow in Every single month in the Sierra. I am talking about 3" in the beginning of August !
Really cool actually ! Dont bog yourself down, just use a little common sense, it will not be the beach . Speaking of ! Another good grind is at the Torrey Pines Glider Port !! Holy Shit is that a good grind up and Down !!!

Hope that this will help you ! Are you going on your own or with a posse ? Dont forget to stop at the Mt Whitney Restuarant post trip., Best F*ing Burgers in LonePIne. Also, Try to stay at the Whitney Hostel ! Dow Villa is actually very nice as well. Safe Travels and Enjoy the View !!

killerDIRK


#3

All you really have to do is get the miles in under a load to prepare your hips, feet and body so you’re comfortable on the day, mentally and physically (Say 5-10 miles, mixing it up with hills). Obviously something can always go wrong, but it shouldn’t be too bad when you’re hyped as fuck. Bring a change of clothes, socks, a decent hat, scarf and gloves to keep warm and don’t forget plenty of munchies such as pasties and chocolate, ofc bring water. You’ll be fine, wish I could come :c)

Edit: I hope you already have a decent fitted bergen with a hip strap so your back isn’t carrying most of the weight, that’s the only inconvenience barre your legs cramping. If not, it’s not that big of a deal, lighten the load and jog on :stuck_out_tongue:


#4

I’m doing a High Sierra trip this summer: one week in Yosemite Valley followed by a few days in Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth is incredible during the summer! Too bad it will be 6 weeks before my Whitney climb.

I’m going to be doing Cowles quite a bit. It’s so busy now though. I’ll need to be there really early.


#5

[quote]andypotent wrote:
All you really have to do is get the miles in under a load to prepare your hips, feet and body so you’re comfortable on the day, mentally and physically (Say 5-10 miles, mixing it up with hills). Obviously something can always go wrong, but it shouldn’t be too bad when you’re hyped as fuck. Bring a change of clothes, socks, a decent hat, scarf and gloves to keep warm and don’t forget plenty of munchies such as pasties and chocolate, ofc bring water. You’ll be fine, wish I could come :c)

Edit: I hope you already have a decent fitted bergen with a hip strap so your back isn’t carrying most of the weight, that’s the only inconvenience barre your legs cramping. If not, it’s not that big of a deal, lighten the load and jog on :stuck_out_tongue:

 [/quote]

I take it that is your pedometer report from the Whitney Hike?

I’m really wondering if anyone has any tips on how to physically prepare for the altitude. I have all the gear and experience, I’ve just never done a sea level to 14,000 hike within 24 hours. I’ve always had an acclimation period in the past, but that won’t be possible this time.


#6

Again, Hydrate Hydrate Hydrate !
Ok seriosly: Start to drink 1oz of water for every 2oz of bodyweight you have. 200# is minimum of 100oz water Per Day.
Do this, well now, but make sure you do this the last 7-10 days before your trip.

As far as Acclimitization, forget it. Just start the day off slow and expect an 6-8 hour trip up and 2.5 to 4 hour trip back down.
DO NOT try anything new or fancy or out of your ordinary routine. You have no idea how many people blow this and then blow up
(either their colon, or Lungs or HEART). If you are starting to breath faster and harder STOP. My buddies on SAR do not need
another body recovery.

Take your time, mind the headaches. Mind your time of day and your pace.
You will do well as most have before you, just take it slow for it will be a long well earned day.


#7

I know you said no equipment but…you could always buy one of those face masks that restricts your breathing to simulate higher altitude. Or get really old school and breath through a snorkel or straw.


#8

Ok, most definately not for the last time: but here goes. The breathing masks DO NOT have a similar effect on the cardiovascular system that living at altitude does. The mask gets you to inhale harder, that it. It does not decrease the surrounding air pressure to a level that would cause the body to produce more red blood cells. You only end up inhaling harder. To many Bain retards are already walking around fitness centers in this country hoping on and off bosu balls with these things on…

There is no substitute for proper Altitude training. Tents work but not as well, since there is to short of a period of accomodation from one altitude to another. Going from Mammoth 8,000ft to Bishop 4,000ft takes about 40 minutes. When you use a tent you go from 8-9000ft down to whatever your altitude situation is. which could drop 8000ft. The body just really does not like this type of adaptation as well.

I know, I LIVED IT !


#9

Some have advocated using a straw or one of those face masks things to mimic less oxygen, and to strengthen the lungs. Never tried, but read an MMA fighter that had good results.


#10

Made it! All in one day - 14 hours. Didn’t have a problem with the altitude. The best advice I got was to just eat a shitload of carbs on the way up and down. I did that and the hike went quite smoothly. My calves are still sore as fuck though and it’s 3 days after!


#11

Don’t know why the picture is upside down.


#12

Glad to know you had a Good Time and where Successfull !


#13

I didn’t know this thread even existed but I’m glad it resurfaced.

As someone who lives near sea level but occasionally ventures to higher altitudes, I have some thoughts.

Those masks mentioned in another post is, in all likelihood, a waste of time. Sure, it can train your respiratory muscles. However, any positive effects are NEGATED and then some by the fact that your cardiovascular training won’t be optimal. In other words, your exercise performance will be limited. Poor exercise performance yields poor results - simple as that.

For those who still want to fork out money for these contraptions, I suggest you look at the best endurance athletes in the world. Not one of them uses these silly devices. Some may invest in a sleep chamber which simulates high altitude but this works through a different method.

As KD mentioned, hydration is key. I agree in the importance of hydration one week prior. People really don’t appreciate this.

Protective clothing, hats, sunscreen will also help your body cope with the higher elevation. Sunburn can dehydrate you. Keep caffeine intake to a minimum the day of; and alcohol leading up to the day should also be minimized or cut out altogether.

For the hike up and especially for the hike down, I love my hiking poles as they allow me to incorporate arms to ease work done by the legs.

The OP, based on his most recent post, only carbed up on game day but I believe carb loading several days prior - in addition to keeping the carbs coming in during the hike - is a more effective solution. And don’t forget: there are plenty of excellent products out there that you can add to your water to help supply carbs as well as electrolytes. When you venture onto high altitude, a carb-restricted approach is NOT the way to go about it.


#14

[quote]MrMuzik wrote:
Made it! All in one day - 14 hours. Didn’t have a problem with the altitude. The best advice I got was to just eat a shitload of carbs on the way up and down. I did that and the hike went quite smoothly. My calves are still sore as fuck though and it’s 3 days after![/quote]

Good job bro. I’m happy to hear you made it. Haha@Calves, I feel your pain :stuck_out_tongue: