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Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby QITNL » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:51 pm

Saddlebag Lake is around 10k and about 4.5 hours away. I don't think there is a quota for the trails heading north to the 20 Lakes Basin. You can pick a permit in TM.



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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby maverick » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:54 pm

Saddlebag Lake is around 10k and about 4.5 hours away.


Not from the Bay Area, at least not at near legal speed limits, but it would
the closest option, and my recommendation also.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby rlown » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:43 pm

oleander wrote:I'm taking a friend up to the Sierra for a quick 2-day overnighter. I just learned that she will be climbing Whitney in a couple of weeks. So I'd like to expose her to altitude a bit. And yet she has limited time and prefers not to drive the 5-7 hours it would probably take to get from Oakland to any of the 10k+ trailheads.


- Elizabeth


If she's climbing Whitney, doesn't she know about altitude? I'm guessing not if you want to expose her to it. I hope she has an acclimation plan before she starts. Like 1 or two days if shes a flat-lander.

Saddlebag is ok. Pretty flat though. Carson pass to Round top is better as it's up-hill in. If you go down to 4th of July lake and hike back up it helps build what might be missing.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:48 pm

Exactly, my first choice would be to go to Saddlebag, where permits are not needed, but I would allow for a five hour drive time. I would do Conness Lakes, North Peak, or something similar while there. Dana is the easy highpoint to get over 13k on and worth considering in your scenario. My second choices would be Leavitt or Round Top. I would hope to do Whitney after already being at altitude again for a day or two the following week. I wouldn't count on what I did a week or two before helping a ton without knowing I tend to do well at high altitude. However, I only have ten years worrying about potential AMS under my belt, tend to avoid places like Whitney, and don't currently backpack, so...
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby sparky » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:21 pm

I am unsure of drive times from the bay area, but I would think tuolumne meadows would be the best mix of proximity, beauty, altitude, and challenge.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby oleander » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:55 pm

seanr wrote:In your experience, will that extra +/-1,000 feet in Sonora Pass area and +/-2,000 feet in Tioga Pass area make much difference for acclimatizing in anticipation of going to 13,000-14,000+ feet a week later? I'm trying to pay more attention to such details in my own experiences recently as I do get AMS at times and have tried most strategies besides diamox.


I am no expert on altitude acclimatization. And I'm sure there are individual differences between people, as well.

However, over the years, both my most frequent hiking partner and I have found that:

1. A "first trip up at altitude" for the season seems to significantly help with acclimatization for the next trip, and possibly for the rest of the season. This appears to be true even if that first trip is pretty short (an overnight). On the first trip we'll have very noticeable shortness of breath, headache, low appetite, etc. at 10k. On the next trip, say, 2 or 3 weeks later, our response at 10k is SIGNIFICANTLY better.

2. But I honestly don't think exposure to 8k helps very much. Most of us seem to have a much stronger reaction to altitude starting at the threshold of 9500-10,500. At 8000 there is hardly any reaction, and therefore (I am guessing) not much acclimatization effect to be gained by spending time at that altitude. If someone is planning a trip to 12/13/14k, I'd feel a lot more confident if she's at least been to 10k recently.

I'm certainly not the most long-time backpacker on this board, so I'd be curious to hear others' (more nuanced, or possibly contrary) experiences.

My friend who is climbing Whitney: She's still relatively novice, although she's adapted impressively well to all aspects of backpacking, including altitude (I took her over Bishop Pass 2 years ago). For Whitney, she is doing a 5-day approach, starting up Shepherd Pass, which is 12k. (Wasn't my idea, but anyway...) She climbed Shasta in late June, and went with me to about 8k a couple weeks prior to that, but it is probably safe to assume that neither of those June exposures to altitude will help her with a September Whitney climb. Too many months gone by.

Therefore I would really like to get her up to 10k.

Leavitt would be fun sometime, although neither of us has a high-clearance vehicle.

- Elizabeth
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby seanr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:58 pm

First of all, y'all may know this, but getting a permit for Saddlebag or something lesser used nearby would be suggested, but I meant to agree with the statement about Saddlebag not having a quota and got carried away when accidentally stating no permit would be legally required.

Second, if interested in stark terrain, Latopie Lake and Leavitt Peak are doable for those quickly comfortable above 10k from Sonora Pass TH without driving to Leavitt TH.

Image

I, too, am still curious about the altitude/AMS questions. In my research and experience, going to anything in the 5,000 to 8,000 foot range can be helpful as a start. That could be followed by proceeding to around 8,000-12,000 feet. If not genetically susceptible to AMS, in decent shape, rested, and hydrated, starting above 8,000-12,000 feet might go fine for an individual. Higher is better, with the caveat that too high, too fast can result in poor sleep, or in serious AMS. The tortoise pace will win out over the hare in climbing high and avoiding AMS. Without acclimatization, I tend to have problems above 12,000 feet that grow serious when quickly ascending above 13,000 feet. Doing something up high, especially overnight or more, a week or two before helps, but only slightly. Much better seems to be hiking and sleeping for a day or two from 8,000-11,000 feet before hiking higher, and descending overnight if necessary/ill. Better yet, but hard to schedule, would be spending several days up high and only returning to sea level for a few days before going up high again. Correct me if wrong: Significant gains in adaptation continue for about five days and continue to a lesser extent for weeks-months at high altitude. Each day back at sea level results in significant loss of acclimatization, with little remaining after a week. I've seen 16 hours stated as an average acclimatization time for avoiding AMS at a given high altitude with variation among individuals. I've seen safe acclimatization for those highly susceptible to AMS listed as about 1,000 feet per day above the 8,000-10,000 foot range and an upper limit beyond what we deal with in the Sierra. Still, I am still experimenting and researching myself, and am curious about what seasoned folks here have to say.

Elizabeth, your friend sounds like she deals well with altitude and will be fine. Good luck.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby cmon4day » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:00 am

Climb Mt. Hoffmann. It's over 10k, about 3:30 to the trailhead at May L., and it's a good climb to work the legs and lungs.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby kpeter » Sat Aug 30, 2014 8:24 am

That is a fascinating chart, and after many decades I had never seen that before.

As for the body adapting to altitude, there are long term and short term adaptations. It takes a very long time for the body to manufacture red blood cells (11 days to adjust for every 1000 meters) so unless you live at elevation the body is never going to adapt fast enough to help most short or medium length backpacking trips.

But the body also does some short term adaptations. The main one is a reaction to respiratory alkalosis. As you breath faster and deeper in the effort to get oxygen, the blood Ph changes and it is this Ph change that inhibits breathing and weakens you when you go up in elevation suddenly. Over a four day period your body compensates by excreting bicarbonate in order to lower your blood Ph so that you can breath faster and more deeply without ill effects. But you are still breathing harder and faster--it just does not feel labored. Wait long enough and your red blood cells build up you will be able to function at elevation without heavy/deep breathing--but that would be many more days.

From what I have read the body begins to rid itself of bicarbonate gradually in reaction to the change of blood Ph that happens when your lungs are laboring at elevation. It is not enough to be at elevation--you need to be exercising and laboring at elevation.

There is a drug that is given for altitude sickness that forces the body to excrete bicarbonate. I have no idea if anyone has ever prescribed it as a preventative measure: acetazolamide.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby markskor » Sat Aug 30, 2014 2:05 pm

Seems like you are seeing how your friend does at altitude rather than doing any acclimatization. In two weeks, any benefits gained by your being at 10,000 will have been negated by her return to sea level - Oakland .
I too would suggest Saddlebag and beyond: Water taxi, 10,000 foot plus, wilderness permits up there have no quotas.
Suggest over Shepherd's Crest to McCabes for a short-n-sweet workout,
Or perhaps Sawmill CG stay overnight and a short-but-strenuous (~1000 up), 3 mile trek to see the old mine ruins.
BTW, no overnight campng at Granite Lakes but there is above average fishing on the Granite Lake/Bennetville 6-mile loop.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby giantbrookie » Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:53 pm

maverick wrote:
Saddlebag Lake is around 10k and about 4.5 hours away.


Not from the Bay Area, at least not at near legal speed limits, but it would
the closest option, and my recommendation also.


Remember, that the driving times depend on where in the Yay Area one goes from. The East Bay, such as Oakland, is faster Sierran access than from the west side. 4.5 hrs to Saddlebag is in fact doable without abnormal speed, but the traffic must be nice to you and one has to be comfortable cornering fairly fast. I routinely reached the Tioga Pass/Saddlebag area in <4.5 hrs from Hayward in the days I lived there, but I haven't done this since ca. 2001.

To put this in a more modern context , let's consider my recent Fresno to Dana Meadows run on July 30 of 3 hr 58 min in a 2001 Nissan Sentra. With the Crane Flat Rd closed (El Portal Fire), I had to do the end-around to Merced, J59, 108 and 120. I'm pretty sure if you measured the driving time from Fresno to the common point from Oakland/E. Bay, which would be the J59-108 junction (east of Oakdale, and W of the 108-120 split), it would be pretty much equal from either starting point. In other words, my time to Dana Meadows, which is something like 4 minutes short of Tioga Pass, should be comparable to the expected driving time, under light traffic conditions (this was during a week day), from the East Bay. Excessive speeds were not attained during that 3:58 run but the key to good trans-Sierra drives is how well the curvy stuff goes, for this is where the most excess time is piled up. I am faster-than-average around the corners, but I've been passed by some and ridden with others who are much faster.

In any case, I agree with others that Saddlebag really offer the most options for what you'd like to do.
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Re: Which 9000+ trailhead is the shortest drive from the Bay Are

Postby Dave_Ayers » Tue Sep 02, 2014 9:41 am

I'd head to Ten Lakes in Yosemite. The pass is ~9,600 feet and the Lakes area is mostly over 9,000. I've driven the route many times and it usually takes less than 4 hours from Fremont including stopping to get a permit at the Big Oak Flat entrance station on the way. You can also hike out of White Wolf, shortening the drive a few minutes and lengthening the hike a bit. From Ten Lakes, you can head over to Tuolumne Peak (class 2, 10,845, great views) and bag that if you like. And you can head further to see May Lake, Mount Hoffman, etc., depending on how much time you have and how much climbing you want for conditioning. The whole area is very scenic and there are probably not too many hikers this time of year.

If you try to do a one way and loop back to White Wolf via a shuttle, be aware the Yosemite Park Shuttles may not run much longer, the Hiker's bus ends 9/14, and YARTs is weekends only in Sept. So call ahead before you depend on those.
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