Aug 6, 2013 at 8:58 pm #1306258
@maiaLocale: Rocky Mountains
Companion forum thread to:Aug 6, 2013 at 9:37 pm #2013172
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
Thanks for posting this.
I'm leaving to do a section of the route in two days. We are taking it pretty slow and enjoying ourselves, probably about 80 miles over 8 days.Aug 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm #2013176
thanks for the great trip report. That brings back a lot of memories. Now I understand why your TR took so long. Last year you posted on my SHR TR that you would soon publish yours too. I was eagerly waiting for a while and then thought you just didn't find the time to write it. This report made the long wait worthwhile.
ManfredAug 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm #2013179
@pitsyLocale: Central Texas
Holy cow, what a great trip! Thanks for the excellent photography and vivid descriptions.Aug 7, 2013 at 9:54 am #2013267
@shawnbLocale: SE Idaho
Great report and thanks for all the wonderful pictures!Aug 7, 2013 at 10:14 am #2013273
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Great report Andrew!Aug 7, 2013 at 11:09 am #2013300
@ksawchukLocale: Northern California
Very nice article that brought back great memories. Those memories definitely included gorging on burgers and a huge shake at Red's Meadow while on the route. I've done the Sierra High Route three times–twice straight through (once solo/once leading friends) and once in four sections leading Sierra Club groups.
The Sierra High Route is simply the best backpacking trip for an advanced backpacker I've ever been on. I've done a few variations on the route as well. (These include a non-trail variation of the LeConte Canyon section, a route east of the Palisades and pushing the route further south).
Congratulations on finishing a classic! Thanks for the article!
I'd like to do the route again in a year or two.
Here are more photos from the route: https://plus.google.com/photos/109219747278066793132/albums/5511009595901038401Aug 7, 2013 at 11:35 am #2013306
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
One word: ExcellentAug 7, 2013 at 12:25 pm #2013318
@awsorensenLocale: South of Forester Pass
That 2nd picture is amazing.
best picture in the sierra's I've seen.Aug 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm #2013344
@mikefLocale: SE USA
Thank you Andrew, what a trip. I am doing a couple sections leisurely 8 days on the SHR beginning 9/7/13. Great photos, loved your commentary..Aug 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm #2013475
Andrew, thank you for such a wonderful and compelling account of your adventure. This evening while reading your story and looking at the pictures I was inspired and hope to have such an adventure in the future! markAug 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm #2013488
Manfred, thanks, as I remember it you guys where just 2 days behind me and almost exactly mirrored my itinerary. Yes the article took a while to come together, I think I first pitched it to BPL back in January but its finally seen the light of day.
Kevin, your solo TR was one I read up in the planning stages of my hike. I also would be very interested in going back and trying some variations of the route, I often found myself examining other possibilities on the map-set. Also I bow to your speed, I've never seen another faster solo unsupported thru documented.Aug 7, 2013 at 9:06 pm #2013491
Nick, I've read a lot of your writing over the years so that comes as high praise.
Aaron, thank you, that picture is interesting to me for the amount of relief it shows in the landscape. Personally I really liked the one shot back south from Sky Pilot towards Conness as it shows a very direct view of a long section of the route as it climbs and crosses a number of large ridgelines.
Mark, go for it. Not to many years ago I would not have contemplated such a trip. I learned how reading other what others have written here and then getting out and practicing it.Aug 8, 2013 at 11:22 am #2013621
@klagsLocale: Northeast US
Great trip report! Those lakes look amazing. Were they all as full of trout as they are in my imagination? :)Aug 8, 2013 at 6:13 pm #2013747
@bcampriniLocale: Southern Appalachians
Half redneck + half Ozzie = hiking and trail reporting machine. Well done.Aug 9, 2013 at 7:43 am #2013869
Adam, I'm not much of a fisherman but I imagine there's some trout in there. Isn't there an area called the Golden Trout Wilderness in the Southern Sierra?Aug 11, 2013 at 9:41 pm #2014526
@klagsLocale: Northeast US
I wouldn't know about the secrets of the high sierra unfortunately, I've never made it over there for backpacking :(
Hopefully I can change that in the not so distant future!Aug 11, 2013 at 9:53 pm #2014527
Part of the difference is that there is virtually no fish stocking inside the national parks, but there is some outside in the national forests, especially in the Golden Trout Wilderness.
–B.G.–Aug 12, 2013 at 11:40 am #2014616
Thanks for the great article, and wonderful pictures, Andrew.
What did you do to prepare for the altitude? (I think one gains about 6000' almost immediately.) Did you spend some time at altitude, hiking, before beginning, or just rely on your general fitness? And what altitude do you live at? (I once met a hiker and his wife on the first leg of Roper's route who lived at 6000' +, in New Mexico. I imagine that 11,000' to me felt like 5,000' to him).
It always takes me several days to start feeling alright, no matter how hard I train at home – I live at sea level – and I've sometimes wondered if I should try Diamox, which I think Bob Gross mentioned in another thread. Mostly what I experience is very elevated, thready pulse, and a desire to go to sleep, no headaches or lung stuff. Then, on the third or fourth day, I start to feel alright. Might be better, though time-consuming, to spend 3 or so days before-hand day-hiking high, and sleeping lower.Aug 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm #2014638
"Mostly what I experience is very elevated, thready pulse, and a desire to go to sleep, no headaches or lung stuff."
Jim, that sounds like the mild symptoms of altitude. It isn't going to kill you, but it makes you feel pretty scroungy for a day or two. I suggest a few things. First, go up to the mountains earlier and sleep an extra night near the trailhead. Monitor your vital signs, and you can tell if you are getting better or getting worse. Try not to start up the trail until you are getting better. No alcohol.
Discuss this with your physician, and he might give you a prescription for Diamox. Since the elevations are not that severe, a half-dose of it started the day before you arrive in the mountains might work nicely. That won't prevent any problem, but it will just give you a wider safety margin. At least make sure that your symptoms aren't just from anxiety. I've seen that in climbers, and I've treated them successfully with a placebo.
–B.G.–Aug 12, 2013 at 7:10 pm #2014773
Jim, one thing that you might do is to purchase one of these tiny pulse-oximeter gadgets. They just squeeze onto your finger. You push a button, it takes a few seconds, and then it starts displaying results, pulse rate and blood oxygen saturation.
You say that you don't think that you have breathing problems. OK. It is also possible that the blood oxygen saturation has been dropping and you are not aware of it. If your body is functioning perfectly, your respiration rate will increase if saturation drops. However, it works faster or slower in different people, so it wouldn't be stupid to monitor it.
The old standard diagnostic for resting pulse rate is pretty clear. When you arrive at any one elevation, perhaps a camp prior to your first ascent day, put up a tent and relax for at least one hour. Then record your pulse rate. If it is over 110, and for sure if it is over 120, then that is the sign of early stage altitude illness. If it is well under 110, then that isn't it. It helps to know what your normal sea level pulse rate is.
I've plotted my own resting pulse rate versus altitude. First is sea level, and then the pulse rate increases slowly over ascent. As long as it stays out of the 110 range trouble, then sleep overnight and continue. If the pulse breaks out of that normal curve, it is a bad sign. Some climbers use this as a trigger for when they start taking the Diamox pills, although it is best to start them before you get into trouble.
It would not be completely stupid to have a blood pressure cuff in your car, while you are still car camping prior to starting out. You could have blood pressure problems that you didn't know about. As an example, some people have started monitoring their vital signs this way and then discovered that they had a diabetic condition. But, if you don't have any numbers, then it is all guesswork. Your physician may not want to write a Diamox prescription based on guesswork, so often they will order up a battery of tests.
–B.G.–Aug 12, 2013 at 9:21 pm #2014809
Thanks very much, Bob, for this thorough advice. I have a prescription for Diamox coming, and will begin taking it a day before my next trip.
In my case, symptoms are almost always the same: seemingly sudden onset of a rapid and thready pulse, quick fatigue, and the desire to take a nap, as though someone had just pulled the plug on me– not the kind of ordinary, slowly developing fatigue one might experience just from effort. If I stay at altitude, the pulse stays elevated, easily over 120, then overnight diminishes, leaving me somewhat spent.
This last weekend, starting at Road's End and heading toward Avalanche Pass, with 29 pounds, (19 of it food),I was doing great through the switchbacks to Sphinx Creek Junction, and well on the switchbacks and stairs just past the junction, but a mile or so into the forest, just as I reached the small creek which crosses the trail, (at about the same altitude as where Sphinx Creek crosses the trail, probably about ~8400'), I was suddenly wiped out, pulse thready and over 120, though breathing normal, and had to flog myself to get to a campsite near Sphinx Creek.
Had I done day hikes to altitude beforehand, like Alta Peak or Jenny Lake out of Stony Creek, I'm sure I would have been fine, as, just three weeks earlier, having done Alta, two days before, (with similar symptoms at 11,000' –not carrying weight) I comfortably got to Sphinx Lake at 10,500', in a day, with only mild distress at 8400', which I dealt with by taking a nap.
Will also order a pulse-oximeter. Notice that Amazon carries them.
Sorry if this is too much detail for the general reader here, but Bob doesn't have a PM set up yet, and perhaps this is useful to others.Aug 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm #2014818
You might want to consider this in your selection of treatments
http://med.stanford.edu/ism/2012/march/altitude.htmlAug 12, 2013 at 9:56 pm #2014821
Another use for vitamin I. interesting.Aug 12, 2013 at 10:03 pm #2014824
Whoa, that looks great. If Ibuprofen works (and I know this doesn't make a lot of sense), it would seem like less of a chemical intervention than Diamox.
From Glenn's article: "Some researchers think the condition occurs because a lack of oxygen to the brain causes it to swell with fluids. Ibuprofen may help to reduce that swelling."
Have been doing Lumosity, a "brain-tainment" site for several months now, scores gradually increasing. Clearly my brain has been getting bigger, with a corresponding drop in spare skull volume, making me more vulnerable to pressure caused by fluid build-up. Time to choose — go dumb and go high, or go smart and stay low? Tough call.
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