aerobic capacity and altitude

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  • #75780

    When I lived and trained in Colorado, I didn’t think much about the relationship between aerobic capacity and altitude. I spent my summers between 8000 and 14000 feet and most of the rest of the year moving between that zone and Boulder. In those years, I didn’t have much trouble adapting when I moved into higher altitude realms.

    Now I live in Portland and train mostly between sea level and 2000 feet with a weekend day or two going up to 5000 feet. My objectives, however, are still mostly in the 8000 to 14000 foot range and the relationship between my low lander aerobic capacity and what happens when I go up is always in my face.

    Here’s a question or two:

    First, how does our aerobic capacity degrade with elevation? I know “it depends” but is there a rough guide? For example, if I can stay below my aerobic threshold while moving up relatively steep terrain sub-5K terrain wearing a forty pound pack at a given speed, how much slower will I be above 5K? above 10K?

    Second, how does our aerobic threshold degrade with elevation? Again, is there a rule of thumb or rough guide?

    You can see how this might matter to someone trying to assess their readiness or who is trying to plan, realistically, how long it is going to take them on an approach or climb for a high altitude climb.

    As there doesn’t seem to be much one can do to “fake” high altitude training, the best I can seem to hope for is a realistic way to de-rate my capabilities when I move above a certain elevation.


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