Altitude Sickness = Helicopter Ride

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Nick

Spiral out.
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Just saw this on the news. A backpacker heading into Rock Creek from the Highline Trailhead got hit with altitude sickness and ended up being flown out by helicopter.

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=30533852&ni...r-with-severe-altitude-sickness&s_cid=queue-3

Since many of us will be heading into the high country this year, I thought I'd post this. A lot of people don't think it's really a risk if you aren't climbing Everest or something, but it can really bite you in the butt in the Uintas. I always do so much better if I can drive to the trailhead the night before and then start hiking. I've had a couple trips where we went up after work and then slammed out big miles or strenuous climbs and ended up sick as dogs. Maybe it doesn't effect everyone, but when it does, it sucks. I'm just mad I never got a helicopter ride when it has happened to me. :(
 

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Bob

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Climb high, sleep low.........old adage
 

Dave

Broadcaster, formerly "ashergrey"
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Slept at 8,500 on Friday night, hiked to 10,500 on Saturday. I was feeling it in the heart and lungs. Good reminder not to overdo it.
 

Unimog

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The key is to be flexible. Monitor your condition and if you show symptoms, don't go higher until they resolve.
 

Laura

freespirittraveler
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Funny this topic came up now. Stan and I are going backpacking in the Eastern Sierra tomorrow and the ideal plan was to leave tonight and stay at 9,000 feet, then hike in tomorrow to 11,500 or so. Unfortunately he couldn't get today off so we're going from sea level to 11,500 tomorrow, essentially a forced ascent, so I started Diamox last night. If you haven't taken it, it's a total pain in the @$$. My head is spinning, nothing tastes right, but I get altitude sickness like nobody's business so it's better than throwing up by the side of the trail with my head feeling like it's in a vice. I'm hoping since I camped at 7,000 feet in February and 6,000 feet in May that I can acclimate and get off this stuff right away. Altitude sickness is worse than your worst hangover!
 

SirDonB

So what's next?
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May 21, 2014
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Dont think I will have to worry too much about altitude sickness since the highest peak I can see I have to hike is about 5600 feet. Though, I will take my time anyway, nothing worse than underestimating the situation and needing the helicopter ride home.
 

Yvonne

I lava it!!!
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living in the low desert, it luckily never bothered me. On all my mountain trips I often sleep right around timber line and had no problems at all so far. The first high elevation trips are always a lot of huffing and puffing until I get adjusted to the high elevation, but that's all so far.
 

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Bob

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Huffing and puffing is not necessarily altitude sickness. Gaining altitude while backpacking is usually associated with more exertion as well. The other symptoms need to be factored.
 

Duke

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Biochemically I believe the biggest factor is the level of Bisphosphoglycerate. It changes the hemoglobin's affinity for oxygen. in reading these comments I thought most of you were a bit crazy as I THOUGHT it took 2 weeks or so change the levels, but I looked a bit and it appears that it changes significantly in just two days. Of course Bob is correct in saying that it would be multiple factors and anyone getting a medivac ride out just may have been a bit behind in physical capabilities too.

I can't find a great source but here is A source of info:

http://books.google.com/books?id=5E...e&q=bisphosphoglycerate altitude .edu&f=false
 

pixie1339

Desperately Seeking Sandstone
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I usually get mild altitude sickness every year when I start hiking in the mountains again. It's usually just the first hike or two that I feel the effects, and I've been lucky that I've never had had it so bad that I start tossing my cookies, but it's still no bueno. I get the headache and start to feel dizzy and tired. Another symptom I get that's weird is I start to have cold chills even though it's warm outside. If I stop and rest for a while I usually feel much better.
 

klank

one step at a time
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Experienced a bit of altitude sickness last year driving up to 7k ft, then hiking to 9k ft within 12 hours. Learned my lesson.
 

IntrepidXJ

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It finally hit me. For the first time I experienced some altitude sickness last night. I had climbed an easy 13er during the day to help get acclimated to climb two 14ers today (I was feeling great after that hike) and then setup camp at about 11,500 feet (which is lower than I've been camping the past month). I had a slight headache at first, which I attributed to slight dehydration and needing to eat dinner. I made sure to drink plenty of water and have some dinner, but it never went away. Then later I started feeling very nauseous. I laid down for a while hoping it would go away, but it never did. Since I was alone and was worried about things getting worse overnight, I quickly packed up camp and headed down around 8:00pm. As soon as I dropped below 10,000 feet I started feeling fine again, so I'm pretty confident it was altitude sickness and not something else. I sure hope this doesn't happen again because I have a lot of mountains to climb still!
 

Duke

Mountain Carver
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As soon as I dropped below 10,000 feet I started feeling fine again, so I'm pretty confident it was altitude sickness and not something else. I sure hope this doesn't happen again because I have a lot of mountains to climb still!
It sure sounds like it then. We learned in Ski Patrol training that getting down is the ONLY way to cure it. Also, I know some EMTs up in Madison county near Yellowstone. They occasionally make a run to pick up some flatlander in W Yellowstone with altitude sickness and they tell me that they are cured by the time they get them to the hospital. Going down is the cure for hypobaropathy :)
 

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