Altitude sickness death

How do you prepare for the rigorous physical requirements of high elevation adventure? Strength and endurance are key, but are only part of a more complex equation. How do you prepare for changes in altitude, exposure, diet, etc.? How do you mentally prepare? Learn from others and share what you know about training in advance for outdoor adventures.
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Jimr
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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by Jimr » Wed Jul 15, 2015 8:45 pm

My kid had a bout of AMS last year that caused us to abort. When I was 14, I went to Blue Lake out of Sabrina with an uncle of mine. First backpacking trip. It was also one of the first years permits were required. While waiting for him to go back down to Bishop, waiting on the TH (that I swear went around the other side of the lake that it currently does). I started eating wild currants just off of the trail after watching somebody pass us and start scarfing them. I was sick for 3 days. Couldn't keep much down, headache, nausea, etc. Drift fishing from an inflatable raft was fine (rainbows in the lake at that time), but camping on the island, no bueno.

We always thought I was sick from the unknown berries, but now I'm sure it was AMS.


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chrismis21
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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by chrismis21 » Thu Jul 16, 2015 4:07 pm

First, I'm very sorry to hear of their loss. That must be a terrible feeling. As a parent, I can't imagine the agony, especially from doing something they most likely loved so much to share as a family.

I have four young children and my wife and I take them out hiking often. It's one thing to push them a bit, but we try to stay very mindful of how everyone's feeling. We won't take them to high altitude until they're old enough to exhibit or explain any symptoms better. My oldest is 6, and we're planning a daddy/daughter backpacking trip in a few weeks. We're headed up to the Cottonwood Lakes area, spending a night at HM before we shove off. If we get up there and altitude is presenting an issue, we'll go on a backup hike and overnight a bit further south (closer to home instead of further) that puts us at a lower elevation, regardless of our original goal. Putting my child in harm's way is the absolute last thing I would ever do or want to do!

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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by acvdmlac » Tue Jul 21, 2015 1:02 pm

In my own experience, response to altitude also seems to be variable, making it less predictable and easily preventable than it sounds in textbooks. I've had AMS triggered by drive from sea level to 7,500' in one day; I've also gone to 8,500 on Day 1, 10,500 on Day 2 and over 11,000'-12,000' passes on Day 3 from sea level with no trouble. I've seen similar variability in my various traveling companions. Staying well-hydrated and avoiding extremes of exertion until acclimated does seem to help, but erring on the side of safety is increasingly built into my back-pack plans.

For those consulting this forum to plan trips at altitude at the first time, or with relatively little personal experience at altitude, it can't be emphasized enough that vulnerability to AMS is determined by genetics and not by fitness, i.e. no amount of sea-level training can prevent it, and you won't know what your personal genetic disposition is until you find out the hard way. And kids and adolescents are more vulnerable than adults, and men more than women.

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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by Cross Country » Thu Jul 23, 2015 10:28 pm

I wrote a good entry on this subjuct that I was pretty sure was here. I must not have hit submit.

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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by ERIC » Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:15 am

I see your response, about 4-5 posts above.
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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by Tom_H » Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:58 pm

My condolences to the family, though I notice this thread was resurrected after a 3 year hiatus. As an instructor, several times I had to evacuate kids who just weren't physically prepared to be on the trail. We always communicated many months ahead of time the need for conditioning and asked for confirmation, but still there were some who had not done so. We had far fewer problems in the Appalachians than the Sierra and more in the Rockies than the Sierra, which is not surprising.

Knowing the warning signs of AMS, pulmonary, retinal, and cerebral edemas is important. If you a newbie, either get some training or do your first trips with someone who has experience. Heading out into the wilderness by yourself unprepared is a dangerous thing. I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but Mav (bless him) organizes far too many searches for those who have gone missing.

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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by Cross Country » Wed Jul 29, 2015 2:22 pm

I wrote this TWICE and then couldn't find either. I hope I'm not getting Alzheimers - haha.

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Re: Altitude sickness death

Post by acvdmlac » Fri Jul 31, 2015 1:04 pm

Here is a scoring system to gauge the severity of someone's acute mountain sickness:

http://www.thepeakinc.com/assets/PDFs/ ... _001-1.pdf

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