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7 summits and other mountain stuff => Questions => Topic started by: maubrey on Aug 20 2005, 01:23

Title: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: maubrey on Aug 20 2005, 01:23
How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?

The reason I ask is I'm planning on doing Kilimanjaro in 2006, and before leaving, I was going to spend 3 or 4 nights up in Tuolumne Meadows - Yosemite (roughly 10,000' elevation), then drive home the day before my flight out. But by the time I get back to the 10,000' elevation point on Kilimanjaro 4 days at a lower altitude (most of that basically at sea level) will have passed.

Have I lost it all at that point ???

Thanks for the input!
Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: Roger on Aug 20 2005, 11:01
For my two bobs worth you will have only gained a slight benefit from your 10,000' program.
If you want to prepare really well for Kili arrive in Arusha, Tanzania 4 days earlier and climb Mt Meru. If you do that choose the lower path which is longer and more animals.  You will have to push you ranger to do this as the other path is better for them.  When you get to Saddle camp also climb Little Meru which is only a 45 minute climb from the camp. If the weather is clear you will have a nice view of Mt Meru which you will commence that same night at around 12-1am.
As the local say also Pole Pole (slowly slowly) also. There is  no need to hurry to Miriakamba hut or Saddle hut as you only have to sit around if you rush, no point really.
Take warm clothes and bag as it gets quite cold late afternoon and nightime.  Take time at night to also sit and stare at the stars..You will see heaps of shooting stars and be able to watch satelites crossing overhead regularly.
Bye the way take the Lemoshi/western breach route on kili, it is the best. Stay in the crater also if possible.
Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: Frans on Aug 20 2005, 18:35
Hi Maubrey,

have same question (and probably concerns) as you. As it isn't possible to adapt the number of days on Kili to my own level of acclimatisation during the climb , I was also thinking as you to acclimatise (in Europe) before flying to Tanzania.

I'm curious for the answers...


Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: 7summits on Aug 20 2005, 21:49
Hi Guys,

it is certainly possible to acclimatise beforehand and use less days on Kili. As Roger pointed out, climbing Mt Meru is very effective (if you do the 4 days trip), you will normally be able to do Kili in 6 days then, instead of 7.
Also a week climbing 4000-ers in the Alps will help a lot.
In both cases going down or travelling for few days does not matter.

But it is very hard to predict how long the acclimatisation will last.
There is a lot of research still going on about altitude disease (AMS) and acclimatisation, so of course there are different opinions, but here are some basics:

- There is no quick effect below 2500m. As a result very few people ever get AMS at that altitude.
- a few hours after getting above 2500m will already make your system work: more red blood cells are being made
- The longer you stay, the more cells you make, so the better you acclimatise
- if you train at altitude the positive effect of the altitude can be less. Most accepted is sleep high, train low, if you want to do altitude training (for athletes, cyclists etc).
- Red bloodcells live for 2-4 months (shorter in fit people), so theoretically the effect of being acclimatised should last that long, meaning, you should be able to get back to your last acclimatised altitude reasonably easy.
Of course this means if you go to 4000m in a day, feel terribly, then you will feel terribly the next time as well  :P

So if you feel ok at a certain altitude above 2500m, then you should be able to get back to that altitude without much problems. If you are acclimatised to almost 4000m, then you should be able to do Kili in 5 days

Some personal experience after being acclimatised for a longer period:

- Last year I climbed Aconcagua, went down to sealevel, spent about a week down in Mendoza and Santiago, then drove up to Ojos de Salados and summited in 2-3 days. (Ojos is only about 300ft lower than Aconcagua). No problems there.
- Also last year I spent about 5 weeks above 5000m in Pakistan, before going to Everest in the fall. Between the moment of going below 4000m, sleeping below sealevel in Amsterdam until getting back above it was 2 weeks. Still no problem in getting from Nepal (1200m) to catch up with the team at BC (5200m) in 1.5 day. Actually I hiked with the team to 5600m that same day and felt fine.

Maubrey, to asnwer your question: if you feel perfectly fine at 10,000ft, then you should feel fine the first days and night on Kili as well, where your teammates might feel worse. So it does help a bit, though do not shorten your Kili trip because of it.

In the end, don't rush anything on a mountain if not needed. All people are different, so check yourself always. 
Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: jedi-knight on Aug 21 2005, 12:26
Hey Harry,

Wouldnt it be better to actually spend longer time on the Kili ascent as compared to trekking up another mountain?

Dont know about other people, but personally, I'm not in a rush. Prefer to be comfortable on the trek. A successful summit is more important to me than pure peak bagging.

Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: 7summits on Aug 21 2005, 12:39
Hi Jk,

it is not better compared to acclimatising beforehand on another mountain. But you are right that it is a shame to rush Kili, please see this FAQ about recommended Kilimanjaro expedition length (http://7summits.com/faq/index.php?display=faq&nr=74&catnr=5&prog=p1&lang=en). Some quotes from that, that show I definately agree with you:

Kilimanjaro is often underestimated. It is a high mountain and deserves respect. It is not advisable to climb the mountain in less than 7 days, 8 or more is much better.
All routes are 5 or 6 days, but this is the minimum time, not the recommended time.

Problem is that park fees and other costs like food and porters are paid per day on the mountain. This is for many people a reason to climb the mountain in only 6 days, sometimes in 5.
But it is quite silly to spend sometimes a few thousand dollars on a trip (mostly the airline tickets are much more expensive than our expedition costs) and then try to save a bit over a hundred dollars by cutting the trip short.
Yes, some people have climbed Kilimanjaro in just 5 days. But this means 3,5 days up to the summit of 5895m 19340 feet as you go down in 1.5 days! Most people do NOT make the summit on the 5 days climb, regardless of what some companies might say. Many might reach the crater rim (Gillman's point) and will either be on Diamox, or will feel so bad that they cannot continue to the real summit. They certainly will not enjoy their climb. If you have climbed Kilimanjaro, you should have a feeling of pride, accomplishment and joy, not survival.
The most important thing about a Kilimanjaro climb is that it should be safe and that you should enjoy it. Why rush on one of the most beautiful places on earth and feel bad if you can easily enjoy it much more and have a bigger chance of summiting?
Spend a little more and climb in 7 or more days. Only stupid people will look down on you if you did summit, enjoyed it and felt great by spending 2 more days than others might have.

It is much more expensive to have to come back to climb again. And rushing to altitude is life-threatening, so saving hundred bucks might cost you much more in the end.

Unless you are a speedclimber, non-technical mountaineering is not about speed. It is about exploring and enjoying the wonders of this earth and maybe even yourself...
Title: Re: How long do the benefits of acclimatization last?
Post by: maubrey on Aug 22 2005, 22:34
Thanks for all the advise! My intent is to go as prepared as possible. Not only physically but also by acclimatizing in advance if possible. The Mt. Meru option sounds like a really great idea but because of time/money/and "the wife", I won't be able to spend the additional time/money in Tanzania. Also, I'm not looking to shorten my Kili experience as my intent _IS_ to do the Lemosho/Western Breach route and spend 9 days on the mountain! Should be a great trip!

But considering that the additional red blood cells could last 2 or more months my planned prep work during the month before my Kili trip sounds like it could be beneficial. A month before I'm (the wife  too) planning on spending a week in Mammoth (California) which is about 9000' and hike that area. Then towards the end of the week (if I get a permit) drive down to Whitney Portal and hike Mt. Whitney (14,496') as a day hike the next morning. And then, as I noted above, going up to Tuolumne for a fews days right before my Kili trip starts and spend time hiking above 10,000'.

Thanks for the input!  :D