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August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

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wbdeford
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August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:49 am

Pics coming later in comments, as is my usual habit.....

I flew into Las Vegas the evening of the 17th, picked up a rental Jeep Compass, and drove into DNVP via Jubilee Pass. I went 1 mile down Harry Wade Road and camped for the night just off the road. It was quite warm, but not too uncomfortable to sleep on top of my sleeping bag. Around 5AM, I headed north to Badwater and hiked about 1.5 miles out onto the salt flats, which from previous experience, is good enough to say you are at the bottom. After enjoying the sunrise out there, I headed back and saw a semipalmated plover looking for food in Badwater Pool. I hiked up into the little slot canyon just up from the parking lot and was disappointed to see a lot of trash. I grabbed a few items to throw away and headed back down.

Knowing I would not have time at the end of the trip to visit China Ranch, I headed down for a date shake and also bought a 15 lb box of dates. Last time, a 5 lb box only lasted me two weeks.... It was also nice to see dates growing and ripening on the trees.

Next, I drove up 127 -> 95 -> 266 -> 168 -> White Mountain Road to reach the bristlecone pine visitor center. There are great view of White Mountain coming from that direction rather than from Big Pine. I asked about the condition of the road to the trailhead and was told it was rough and would get likely get flat tires if I try to go over 10mph. I also asked about my favorite tree there. Found out it is called "The Sentinel" and is 3500 years old, though dead the last 400. After hiking over to the Sentinel for numerous pictures, I headed up the road to the White Mountain locked gate (trailhead).

I found the road to be in excellent shape. It wasn't rough at all. Any car in good condition, and with good tires and a competent driver, could make it. I probably drove about 20mph generally. I reached the trailhead a little after 4PM and just did some light exploring and relaxed for the evening. There were still some sparsely scattered areas of snow, including one big drift up the hillside from the trailhead, which I visited.

The trailhead is at about 11,700 ft. This was the beginning of my acclimation plan for Whitney (and also White Mountain Peak itself). I got up just after sunrise and began hiking a little before 7AM. The road is steep initially, but quickly becomes a gentle 2 mile ascent up to the Barcroft Research Facility at 12,430 ft. There were several cars parked there, and an old army-style Jeep with a badly rotted spare tire, but looked otherwise in good condition. From there, it was a bit steeper for the next 1/2 mile to the Barcroft Observatory at 12,750 ft, at which point, White Mountain comes into a spectacular full view with a wide open tundra-like meadow. If there were any doubt that White Mountain is a worthwhile hike in its own right, it vanished there. Likewise, if the full trail were too long for a hiker, it is well worth it to hike the 2 miles to this point for this view. Views back to the south are also excellent.

The next mile is down about 250 ft to about 12,500 in the meadow. This leaves you with 2000 ft to go up (including some further regain) in 4 miles. The next 1.7 miles goes up to 13,180 ft, before a 200 ft drop to a saddle where the final 2.1 mile, 1300 ft push to the top begins. I was higher than I had ever hiked before, and it was slow going due to the thin air. It took me almost 2 hours to do that segment, during which I saw a group of about 20 bighorn sheep. There were a fair distance away, but other hikers got to see them up close. One snow drift had to be bypassed right around 14000 ft, but that was easy. To my surprise, I saw a few flowers over 14000 ft. I reached the top after about 4 hours and 45 minutes of hiking.

I had encountered a handful of other hikers along the way. A few were coming back down after camping most of the way up the night before and summiting in the morning. I caught up with a young couple along the switchbacks, while another lone hiker passed all of us and reached the top first. They young man of the couple was hiking as personal therapy after his father died 5 days earlier, which reminded me of my own father. Another group of three, including a 72 year old man reached the top a little later. One of them climbed on top of the building up there to get a 360 view. I didn't feel safe with trying to come down, so I didn't go up.

The views from the top are fantastic all around, including down to the Eureka Dunes, and a faint view of Telescope. I was not able to make out which peak was Whitney among the Sierras, but the Sierra and Owens Valley views are also great.

I spent about 2 hours on the summit, during which I had a mild headache. This was my only sign of any altitude sickness. It did not worsen, nor did I get any other symptoms. This gave me confidence that I would have no serious AMS issues on Whitney. That was a relief, since it is no easy task for a sick person to drop from 14000 to below 13000 on Whitney.

I headed down a little before 2PM. I saw the bighorn again, with a few of them much closer, but I saw no nice male horns. The 200 ft regain I had to do from 12980 to 13180 was probably the slowest part of the entire hike for me. But below 13000 ft, my headache went away. Marmots were frequent sightings on the way down. With so little else there other than small plants, I wondered what they ate to get so big and fat. I spent quite a while at the Observatory on the way down to get some late afternoon shots back at White. The 2 miles back to the trailhead seemed long, but were easy. I encountered 2 researchers out for walks. One aspect of the research was testing the effects of high elevation on domesticated sheep, which were in a pen at the facility. So, I saw 2 species of sheep on this hike. I reached the trailhead about 7PM, where a couple was parked right next to me. The man let me use his image stabilization binoculars to look at the moons of Jupiter, along with Jupiter and Saturn.

It was somewhat difficult to sleep, as I had some aching muscles from the hike, which I hoped would not affect Whitney. I woke up for good while it was still dark, but after first light. The Jeep thermometer said it was 39 degrees. I headed down and reached the stretch of road just below the Sentinel and hiked up the hillside to it for some early morning and sunrise pics. The sun didn't get high enough to reach it until about 7:40AM, so I spent a lot of time with it. I think I like it so much because depending on what angle you view it from, it takes on an array of personalities. I finally left it about 8AM and headed down to Lone Pine for my Whitney permit.

I wanted to spend as little time as possible at lower elevations so as not to lose what I gained in acclimating with about 40 hours at 11,700 and above. I reached the Whitney Portal about 11AM on the 20th. Fortunately, the people who had my campsite the night before vacated a little after noon, so I was able to get set up there. The campsite is about 360 ft below the trailhead. In addition to the road up, there is a trail, so I hiked that trail up to the trailhead and Portal Store and back. Otherwise, I relaxed the rest of the day.

The creek flowed strongly behind my campsite. I had read that filtering is not generally necessary on the Whitney water sources, and this may have been a stupid time to test that, but I did it anyway. The water from the creek tasted good. I also figured if it was going to make me sick, I'd rather it be here than 5 miles up the trail. Fortunately, I had no issues.

Through a Mt Whitney Facebook page, I met a couple (Alexis and Jared) with permits the same day and we decided to hike together starting at 2AM. The day before, Alexis suggested starting at 1 instead, so we arranged to meet at the trailhead at that time. I got up at 12:30AM and drove up, getting a space right across from the trailhead. We arrived at the sign at almost the same time and got started at roughly 12:50AM. I had told Alexis not to feel like she has to wait for me if I am going slower than they were, but she said she was happy to go at a slower pace.....and so we began.

Alexis is a fast hiker. I was able to keep up with her for the first couple miles or so, but I noticed as we chatted she was speaking normally and I was having to huff and puff a bit. Jared was farther back. Eventually, I slowed enough until Jared was just behind me, and I told him, "She's smoking us!" Eventually, I had to let Jared pass. Every so often, we would stop to rest and be at the same spot, but each time, I would fall behind. It wasn't too bad, though. They mostly didn't have to wait long. With the moonlight, we could see up the canyon walls. With frequent shadows, headlamps were still necessary. At one of the stream crossings, I lost balance slightly and submerged a boot, but I got it out and onto a rock quickly enough that only my upper ankle got wet. After 2.7 miles and 25 switchbacks we reached 10,000 ft, up from the 8360 ft trailhead. This was approximately 2:30AM.

After a total of 4 hours of hiking, many switchbacks, and 3 miles later, we reached Trail Camp, at 12,000 ft, where many of the 2-day trips break for the night. Alexis and Jared filtered some water from the small lake there, but I was too lazy to filter and just refilled a bottle from it. I brought 2 quarts of sports drink and four 0.5 liter bottles and had not drunk much yet. I was quite chilly there and my hands were cold, having foolishly not brought gloves with me. Fortunately, after resuming hiking, this was not an issue.

This is where the famous 97 switchbacks begin taking you from 12,000 to the 13,650 ft crest of the eastern Sierra. I counted them, and there are indeed 97 of them. Many of them are very short to climb steep sections, and I did not find it nearly as bad as the number 97 makes them sound. "Switchbacks are our friends." In total, there are over 180 switchbacks on the trail (not sure of the total number). The farther we got up them, though, the harder it was for me to keep up. That had to wait a few minutes for me at the crest, where the trail crosses into Sequoia National Park. Perhaps 3/4 of the way through the switchbacks, the sun started coming up. This was a much welcome event, as it became warmer and we could put our headlamps away. There was some ice on the trail, but not enough to be dangerous.

The views from the Sierra crest are spectacular. The Owens Valley, the Inyo Mountains, the lakes and other mountains to the west, the jagged peaks further up to the north. We reached it about 7AM--a little over 6 hours, 8.7 miles, and 5300 ft up. Next there is a 200 ft drop down to the junction with the John Muir Trail. The next 1.5 miles follows the steep backside of the eastern wall of the Sierra. There is a lot of up and down--1060 ft up, and 325 ft down. This got quite slow for me, and now that the sun was up, I was taking pictures, slowing me further. There was one snow field to ascend, but it had a path already made throught it that was easy to climb carefully. Eventually Alexis and Jared had to just let me meet up with them at the summit. I got to the final turn to the east and slowly went up the final 0.3 miles and 300 ft to the summit, which I reached between 9:30 and 9:40, after roughly 8 hours and 45 minutes of hiking.

There was no headache at the top for me this time, which to me confirmed my acclimation plan was sound. Quite a few others were there though only a few had passed us on the way up. As would be expected, views were spectacular in all directions. Telescope Peak was quite distinct and clear. White Mountain Peak was also easily seen.

After a little over 1 hour, we started heading back down. This time, it was Jared who was the speedy one. I was able to keep up with Alexis, though I frequently fell behind due to photography. Jared stopped periodically and let us catch up. My feet and knees just wanted to be done for most of the descent. Snow, water, trees, and flowers made for frequent opportunities to stop briefly for pictures. Along the 97 switchbacks, there was a marmot, seemingly waiting for a handout and posing for pictures. We finally reached the trailhead a little after 5PM, for a total of 6+ hours heading down and 16+ hours on the trip. It was a total of 6500+ ft up, and 6500+ ft down--a new personal record for ft up in a day, and total ft changed in a day, though I have gone down more before. We got burgers at the Whitney Portal store and parted there as they went to their hotel in Lone Pine and I went to my campsite.

I expected to take the next day to rest and drive. Since I was sore after hiking White, I expected much worse soreness in the night. But that didn't happen. I woke up at about 2AM feeling great. I packed up and headed down the mountain toward Death Valley.

A gas station in Lone Pine had a price of 4.399, while Panamint Springs was only 4.249. First time I have ever seen Panamint Springs less than someone else!

I reached Emigrant Campground at maybe 3:30AM. It was about 85 degrees, and I decided to lay down there for a bit more. (I use a bivy cover, a blow-up ground pad, and a sleeping bag.) I got about 2 more hours of sleep there. Next, it was up Emigrant Canyon Road to the service road in Wood Canyon.

From there, the target was Bald Peak. This was the last named peak along the Panamint Crest I had not yet reached (assuming we don't consider Manly to be part of the crest). I headed south south east to ascend a ridge to the Wood-Nemo divide. I followed the divide up to the Panamint Crest, and then the crest to Bald Peak. I underestimated its difficulty and only brought 1.5 liters of water. Undoubtedly, I was slowed somewhat by having done Whitney the day before, though it didn't feel like that was the case. I never found the marker for Bald Peak, though I went to every spot that could conceivably have been considered the peak. I followed the crest back north to point 7726, which I consider to be the north end of the crest. I followed the northwest ridge from there back down into Wood canyon. It is very rocky and time consuming to descend, and might be the steepest descent I have ever done. From there, I headed approximately north north west to reach the old road, which I followed back to my car. In total, this was about 7.5 miles and about 7 hours, with 2800 ft gained and lost. The Jeep said it was now 94 degrees. I dug up a bottle of water that was buried in the middle of the pack and wasn't hot yet, then headed for Mahogany Flat, where I arrived mid-afternoon.

Someone propped the bathroom door open, and left the toilet open, and it was full of flies. If the need had arisen, I would have chosen a cat hole over that. I took one of the first campsites, but moved after being pestered by flies, though it wasn't much better further down. A couple, Zach and Solara, arrived a while after I did and we had a nice talk about the park, and parks in general. They were moving from Massachussetts to San Diego and hitting lots of parks along the way. A man with 2 or 3 young boys arrived later, though they kept to themselves.

Since 1AM worked out so well for Whitney, I decided to do the same before heading for 10460. I woke up before my alarm and gathered things together, setting out a little before 1AM. Much of the way, the moon was sufficient for lighting. But while I had my headlamp on, I noticed what looked like greenish little jewels on the ground. As I got close to them and looked directly down on them, I discovered they were spider eyes. They were plentiful all along the trail, all the way up. I also noticed some dead flowers, as well as some that seemed to have some life left. I reached Arcane Meadow about 2:45AM, and Telescope, via the 14 switchbacks, about 5:30AM. Lights marked Pahrump, Furnace Creek, The Furnace Creek Inn, and another set of lights off further away and to the left that might be Beatty(?). The opposite direction there was a couple of sets of lights which might be Trona(?), and another smaller set that same direction. I saw a single spot of light in the Argus Range.

Now that I was not hiking, the chilly temps, sweat from hiking, and light to moderate breeze, I became quite chilly waiting for sunrise. Several years ago, I bought some some "Space Thermal Blankets" for emergencies. This wasn't an emergency, but I figured why not use one since I have it? It was definitely helpful, though a bit cumbersome to use in the breeze.

I have previously considered camping on Telescope, but never have, so this was my first sunrise up there, as well as my first summer trip up. Hopefully the pictures will show how pretty it was up there.

Around 6:30AM, I headed for 10460. It is only a 3 mile round trip and 1370 ft up and 1370 ft down. But this was the hardest part of the entire trip--Whitney included. It took me 5 hours to go 3 miles, and there were numerous large rocks, boulders, and trees to block the way and force me off the ridge. Most of the time, staying on the Hall Canyon side was the way to go, because the Hanaupah/Starvation side was too steep, though occasionally the reverse was true. Nevertheless, the views are spectacular, in the canyons, valleys and beyond, and back to Telescope. As with Bald, I could not find a marker. A highlight of the hike was seeing three mule deer bucks foraging together in upper Hanaupah Canyon in an area they would not be seen without going beyond Telescope.

The hike took 2 hours longer than I had planned, and I needed to drive to Yuma, so I hoofed it pretty hard to get back down to Mahogany Flat. But the flowers were so good I had to stop for pictures. I have never seen the upper Panamints like this before. Still, I arrived back after 2 hours 45 minutes, for a total of 14+ hours since I left in the morning. I threw everything from the campsite into the Jeep and headed down lower wildrose and out to Trona. I had never driven out that way before and greatly enjoyed the views over to the Panamints and Telescope from the far southwest. Will have to go that way again some day for pics. I arrived at my daughter's house in Yuma about 10:40PM. Spent the night and next day there till about 3:45PM, then headed to Las Vegas to fly home. Finally, sleep deprivation started to hit me.....

Pics coming, though I know I still haven't finished uploading the last trip's....
Last edited by wbdeford on Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:19 am, edited 2 times in total.

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ETAV8R
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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by ETAV8R » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:52 am

Living life!
Thanks for the great report.

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by bbb » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:02 am

Congrats on Whitney! That's a heck of a day hike. I don't think I'd get any sleep at all if I knew my alarm would go off at 12:30 am.

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:17 am

Here is a set of summit-to-summit pics. There was too much haze from the Panamints for anything remotely decent to the Whites or the Sierra, but the rest turned out pretty well.

Album with full resolution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/168127823 ... 0572268631

Telescope and 10460 from Whitney:

Image

Telescope from 10460:

Image

White, Telescope, and 10460 from Whitney:

Image

Telescope and 10460 over Whitney summit:

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White over Whitney summit:

Image

Eureka Dunes, Hidden Dunes, and Telescope (and others!) from White:

Image
Image

Sierra from White:
Image

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:06 pm

bbb wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 11:02 am
Congrats on Whitney! That's a heck of a day hike. I don't think I'd get any sleep at all if I knew my alarm would go off at 12:30 am.
Thanks....I woke up before the alarm both times!

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by D.A. Wright » Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:07 pm

Superb trip report!

You mentioned traveling to the White Mountains via a White Mountain road instead of via Big Pine. That left me confused. The only alternatives are via Silver Canyon from Laws, or Wyman Canyon from Deep Springs Valley; both would tax the capabilities of a Compass.
D.A. Wright
~When You Live in Nevada, "just down the road" is anywhere in the line of sight within the curvature of the earth.

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:13 pm

D.A. Wright wrote:
Tue Aug 27, 2019 1:07 pm
Superb trip report!

You mentioned traveling to the White Mountains via a White Mountain road instead of via Big Pine. That left me confused. The only alternatives are via Silver Canyon from Laws, or Wyman Canyon from Deep Springs Valley; both would tax the capabilities of a Compass.
Thanks, DA! I mean, I came from the east on 168 to White Mountain Road, which goes north from 168 to the Bristlecones and beyond.

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by D.A. Wright » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:57 pm

OK. I re-read the first paragraphs and realized you came in from the east, via Lida and Fish Lake Valley. Thanks.
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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by netllama » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:35 pm

Thanks for the detailed, lovely trip report. Congrats on some truly spectacular hiking accomplishments!

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Wed Aug 28, 2019 7:02 am

The three bucks....zoomed way far in:
Image

Not so far zoomed, but clearer:
Image

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by MojaveGeek » Fri Aug 30, 2019 7:42 pm

Wow I only just saw this because I was out doing my own hiking. Really excellent TR, very much appreciated. Never done Whitney, perhaps never will (a bit crowded for my taste, and long!) but the description is really good, much enjoyed it!

So you finally went up Bald. Interesting that you found it hard to descend. I've considered making a loop including that descent and it looks pretty good on the map. I would go slightly east first and then go down the mostly open crest. I gather you took a more direct route?

I don't know many people who have been on 10460. Yes it is slow going, but did you notice the bristlecones around there? Some rather old ones actually, though I think most of the ones I saw were on the west side (mind you, this was 25 years ago, so my memory isn't what it used to be). I recall that also as a pretty tough section, but then, there you'd be leaning against an old bristlecone. Did you find a little rock bivvy style shelter right on the ridge, shortly before the summit?

That was a really ambitious trip! Glad you got so many peaks in!

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Sat Aug 31, 2019 4:55 am

Bald was not well-planned. There were so many options that I just winged it. I definitely did not come down the easiest route. This is the hillside I came down:

https://caltopo.com/map.html#ll=36.3202 ... t&n=0&a=sf

I remember seeing a wind break someone had built near 10460. It was just a small wall of rocks. There was use trail in places, and I know someone who was up there in June. But, yes, it doesn't seem often visited.

And, yes, I definitely saw some bristlecone pines.

Here is a sappy, mature cone

Image

And a new cone starting to grow:

Image

And this tree reminds me of a peacock or a turkey. I've got a few others which I will post eventually:

Image

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by MojaveGeek » Sat Aug 31, 2019 7:53 pm

Ah that's interesting, I was going to ask if you knew about the "slope angle shading" :) I was using it a lot this summer figuring out cross country routes in Colorado. I have wondered who took the time to build that rock wall out there. Thanks for the pix.

When I was last on Bald, years ago, i came across a trail of sorts going over the ridge and off to the NE. I've been able to see it on the sat images but there's some mines over there and there's usually trails between mining areas that were contemporary. I wish I'd checked that out better when I found it. Might have just been a game trail of course. But glad you got up to Bald. You've really covered the Panamint Crest pretty well now!

Now, about altitude and acclimation. What you did obviously worked for you and you did some dynamite hiking - real power stuff indeed. But for the sake of others, I would not recommend what you did. Here's why.

I start with my own story of HAPE, High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, in which your lungs start to fill with water, you gurgle when you breathe, you take in less O2, and eventually you die (many mountaineering deaths in the old days were attributed to "pneumonia" but really was HAPE). I didn't die, of course, but I did end up losing 1/3 of my planned hikes on that trip.

Colorado, 1984. I live at sea level. Fly into Denver (Stapleton!), rent a car, buy food, drive to a TH at 9600 ft. Sleep first night at 10K, next 3 nights between 10.5 and 11. Day hikes up to 13 each day. Feeling crappy (slow, out of breath, some trouble sleeping, loss of appetite) but I attribute that to normal altitude. Except it gets worse, not better. 4th night wake up with rales - gurgling in my lungs. I know enough (been hiking in Nepal) to appreciate the symptoms and know what is going on. It is night, drizzly, I need to get down, but I figure I'll probably survive the night (you die in your sleep, when respiration / heart rate are way down). Fast forward to two days later when I'm sitting on the steps of the Summit Country Medical Center (near Vail) waiting for the doors to open. First doc takes one look at me, says "HAPE: chest xray and oxygen". They put a mask on me, and bingo, my brain turns on again. It was amazing how much cognitive function I had lost. And I didn't even know it.

Sounds similar to your days and nights, no? Well they say "climb high, sleep low" and that's better. I'd do just what you did, but not sleep up at the end of the road toward Barcroft, but rather some place in the 5-8K range. You want to push your self to acclimate, but understand that if you push too hard you can reach a critical point, and that's def going to interfere with your hiking plans. In your case you needed to sleep high on the 3rd night for your Whitney hike.

Remember, it's really key, you lose cognitive ability, and it can be hard to realize what is happening to yourself. You think you're fine but then you get screwed up on a very simple route find. Your margins are cut way back. And once the fluid build up happens, you have no option except to go down. (The doc said "Denver" I countered with "Boulder" and after 4 nights down there, returned, got an all clear x ray, and hiked the Maroon Bells circuit).

What I learned is that how high you've gone previously is irrelevant, how high you go is only a little relevant, most relevant is how fast you get there. And really it's where you sleep that matters (for respiratory health). But of course you go high in the days to get used to breathing the thin stuff.

Anyway, don't take this as critical, I post it really as a warning to others. I'd been to 19K in Nepal and felt immune. How wrong I was!

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by wbdeford » Sun Sep 01, 2019 12:09 am

Wow, what a story! That's great info. Do you mind if I cite it? Probably easier for readers if I copy and paste, though could just link to this page, if you'd prefer.

After the two nights at 11,700, I spent essentially 16 hours below 8,400 ft, (most of that at 8000 ft where my campsite was). I've frequently seen 8000 as the level to go down to if you are having altitude issues higher up.

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Re: August 17-24: White-Whitney-10460 (and, oh yeah, Bald)

Post by MojaveGeek » Sun Sep 01, 2019 8:34 pm

Of course you can cite it! I don't want people getting sick!

Yes, I see, you got one lower night in there, that's not bad.

As for how far to go down... once you are sick, I dunno about the magic of 8K. Part of my problem was that although I thought of myself as "down off the mountain", in fact sleeping (Silverthorne, CO) I was still at 9K feet. And the doc didn't say "Go down 1000 ft boy". He said "You're heading to Denver" which is at 5K and change. Of course, there's no place much lower than that in Colorado :)
So it's all a bit arbitrary.

You were probably feeling great, though, once you got home! One of the big parts of acclimation is increasing your red blood cell count, and once you've got them, they live 5-6 months! So I figured, this summer, I got acclimated in Montana (sleep at 5, climb to 10) and then was in pretty good shape for Colorado a few weeks later (first part of the trip was sleep at 5, climb to 13) There was a lot of truth to this, but still I did better on the high parts of my hikes after a few days of hiking up that high, so not a perfect solution.

BTW, after my HAPE I gave up on Colorado for years, and spent more time hiking in Washington, where 8K or so gets you on most of the peaks :)

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