• Log In
  • Sign Up
    • I recently completed my first 14'er. Mt. Whitney also happens to be the tallest moutain in the contiguous US at 14,505 ft. I've been hiking for 2 years and I began preparing for Whitney a few months ago.

    • A bit. We did an acclaimation hike the day before, we also stayed overnight in Lone Pine. On the ascent I was just winded as usual. Unfortunately we spent an hour at the summit, and the down hike is fairly shallow, so we ended up taking a lot of breaks.

    • Awesome, Thomas! 👏 I've been up a few times and love that hike. One thing, tho, is it's pretty barren and requires a permit, has a lot of people on the trail.

      So last time up, @kevin and I went up Mt. Langley, just a few miles away. It's so beautiful on the way up and down with all the lakes:

    • Great job! I know my feet and knees hated me at the end of the day but scarfing too much pizza in Lone Pine afterwards made me forget the pain and only remember the rewards of that remarkable view and accomplishment! Like @Chris shared, Langley is a great follow-up peak. Also, if you get so inspired or you heading north, Mt. Shasta is really non-technical; just a slug fest. But, another 14''er. And, since you are that close, you might as well knock out Rainier. LOL We did it the other way around. We summitted Rainier, drove the next day to a based camp at Shasta and summited the following day.

      It seems once you get the peak-bagging fever, everywhere you drive you are looking up and wondering if you should summit that one and that one and that

    • Congrats on your ascent. Summiting via the Mountaineers Route is a wonderful accomplishment!!! Glad you took the trail down, as a wrong foot descending the Mountaineer's Route can easily turn fatal. Now that you've summited Whitney, what's next for you?

    • I always find this a strange question, sure altitude affects different people in different ways, but after spending so much time in South America, the rockies seem cute in comparrison to the Peruvian Andes where there are at least a dozen or more roads above 16,000 feet, and of course peaks way above that.

      Do you make a point prior to climbing a 14er of taking some kind of altitude drug as a matter of course, if so which is your preferred one?

      I'd be using your answer more as reference to direct others to, as a lot of people who venture south ask me and I never have a good brand/ tablet to offer as a suggestion...mainly because I have never suffered.

    • I agree with your sentiment. 14k doesn't really seem that high, but I've watched a number of people suffer from AMS at that elevation. One of my friends, a climber in great shape with good health, vegan diet, started uncontrollably crying around 13,500ft. That altitude got to him.

      In California, it's extremely easy to go from near sea level to 14.5k in a matter of hours. Zero acclimation seems to be the underlying theme with those who get AMS in CA. For whatever reason, I haven't had issues. There's some research that suggests that being at high elevations previously does lower your chances of altitude sickness, even if returning to elevation months or years later, far after RBC lowers to low elevation levels.

      Anecdotally, 13k+ feet is the threshold starting point for studying the effects of altitude on the human body. The University of California operates a number of research stations above 13k. In fact, I've been to the one used to study the premiere high altitude drug, Diamox.

      Diamox is the drug of choice for mountaineers and Kilimanjaro peak baggers, but it recently earned a Black Box warning after it produced many sudden fatalities. The work to prove a black box warning was needed was actually done at that same research station we've been to, with these sheep:

      Research now suggests that good old ibuprofen is your best bet for preventing altitude sickness: 

      But, the real prevention is proper acclimatization.

    • that is great to know and amazing information, I'll be back at altitude next year a lot in the Pamirs, and like you say there is no way of knowing if its going to strike.

      I tend to be aclimatizing as i go I guess but i do know from talking to locals in Ecaudor and Peru (no where near the depth of study you have seen)but local knowledge tells them that after around 24hours dropping to sea level or close, any tolerance they have built up will be gone, and need to go back thru the process again and take it easy for the first 24-48 back at altitude.

    • Research now suggests that good old ibuprofen is your best bet for preventing altitude sickness:

      The pro mountaineers I was adopted by swore by aspirin, not ipubrofen perse. The aspirin was good for thinning the blood (in moderate amounts) to get more oxygen to the brain. Even tho I was in much better shape back then, my cardio capabilities seemed to keep my pace moderate enough to never suffer.

    • Yeah, I believe it. The blood thinning makes sense that it would help. And like ibuprofen, it's an NSAID which keeps the brain from swelling at altitude, which follows the Time's theory:

      Many people respond by experiencing a mild swelling of the brain, which researchers believe is triggered by the release of inflammatory factors that lead to leaky blood vessels and allow fluid to build up in the brain. That can put pressure on nerves and cause headaches and dizziness. Ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug, reduces swelling.

    • I always wondered how people adapt to those crazy high roads in India and the Andes. The last time I went up Whitney, we drove from the Bay Area and got to the campground at 8,000’ late at night. A few hours later we hiked and I was the only one to make the top. Some started getting sick at 11,000.

      One young guy made it to 13,500 but passed out on the trail. I usually don’t have trouble but on that day I got a splitting headache above 14.

    • Interesting research. I think there's also some research out there that suggests that the effects of altitude on the brain lessen overtime because the body learns to deal with the swelling.