03-09-2010, 03:58 PM
oot & aboot
Joined: Jun 2003
Location: 8000ft, Twin Spruce Gap, Colorado
Originally Posted by CA Stu
Does spending a couple of nights acclimatizing at intermediate elevation (i.e. Durango, Ouray) before venturing up to the highest peaks and passes mitigate the effects somewhat?
Good question Stu:
Short Answer: Definitely.
Everyone acclimatizes differently. Basically acclimatizing to high altitude is the process of your body generating more red blood cells to carry oxygen to your organs.
My first week in Colorado... Lomax and Eaglefeather put me on a KLR and took me to the top of Mt. Evans over 14,000 feet. It was everything I could do to try and get a full breath up there
It is fairly common for someone coming from sea level to have a bit of Altitude Sickness at 8000 feet. To put in in perspective how high you are at 8000... pilots are required to use oxygen above 10,000 feet. (edit: I've received notes from several pilots telling me my numbers are wrong - but the point is the same) So even though us Coloradan's are up over 12,000 feet all the time (one ride in one day I went over 12,000 feet 7 times), people from lower altitudes need to see how their body reacts to the altitude.
Here is a bunch of detailed information on acclimatization:
but here is the
RULE OF THUMB I WOULD FOLLOW:
My recommendation is that a visitor do lower things first and then in the later days of your vacation try for the higher stuff. If you are planning to ride some of the epic 13,000 foot passes (Imogene or Mosquito - more on those later), leave them to the end of your trip.
Also.. there are two "automobile routes" in Colorado that can take you up to 14,000 feet. One is Mount Evans (the highest paved road in america) and the other is the world famous Pikes Peak (which is now about 50% paved and 50% dirt road). Both of these are in the front range.
The cool thing about those two routes is you can get up (and down) them in a relatively short time if you want to see how you feel up high.
It might be an idea to go and spend a few hours up on Pikes or on Evans when you first arrive and see how you feel. I would recommend however, you don't just sit around up there.. do something to get your heart pumping. If you go up Evans, do the last 200 foot climb on foot to the very top. THAT will give you a real feeling for how hard it is to breath up there.. and then think about what it will be like riding a motorcycle in full gear over rough terrain.
If you have no problems you are good to go...
If it gives you pause for thought.. then you need to acclimatize some more and plan accordingly.
Here I am with Wayne Weber at 14,110 feet on Pikes Peak. This is after I'd lived in Colorado for about a year. Wayne is a Colorado native and thought nothing of the thin air. I was functional but I could not have sprinted 50 yards.
My first time riding actual technical offroad above 12,000 feet... I was a beat dog. Of course the fact that I was on a VT500 Ascot "street bike" with shaft drive probably didn't help
Geek screwed with this post 04-27-2010 at 12:18 PM