ArT Changes with Elevation / Altitude

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  • #68498
    keith brown

    Several weeks ago, Scott mentioned (If I heard correctly) that our AeT goes down with altitude gain. I’m planning on using my HR monitor chest strap on an upcoming trip. Scott mentioned the importance of recognizing the “feel” of Z2 in our training, and the importance of recognizing when we may be moving towards an unsustainable or undesirable pace.

    Is there a general guide or factor we can apply is reducing AeT with altitude gain? If all my training is at sea level and I’ll be working at 15-20,000’, how much reduction should I see.

    I understand data will show some variation between individuals, so looking for the top of the bell curve.

  • Moderator
    MarkPostle on #68513

    Keith, Yes in general we do see a reduction in AeT as altitude increases. I have seen this most concretely with athletes that spend significant amounts of time at 2 different elevations then do a second AeT drift test up high to re calibrate. This would be folks that take extended summer vacations up high or live in ski towns in the winter etc. Very generally for these I would say I have seen about a 5 BPM reduction in AeT once the individual is well acclimated. For higher elevations like you mention here I don’t have a solid data as we’re not having folks do AeT tests for an apples to apples comparison but my gut feeling is it’s closer to 10 BPM assuming you’re acclimated. One of the wild cards here is most all trips t that 4-6000 meter range are happening with incomplete acclimatization. You’re likely just spending enough time to “get the job done” and get down. This is a bit of a different discussion but as Scott may have mentioned here I am a huge proponent of trying to get a feel for how your body works when you go to altitude, what kind of pace is sustainable over the course of a summit day, and what is the corresponding subjective effort level. This is for a couple of reasons. One what the target HR should be is always going to be changing bit as you ascend and as you acclimate (or don’t) where as the subjective effort level is more constant. Secondly as your climbing goals get bigger and more involved constantly monitoring your HR becomes a logistical problem/hazard. Climbing safely/competently, navigating, making sure youre eating, watching the weather etc will at some point require all of your limited faculties at altitude and trying to make sure your HR is dialed into a certain number (that might not be right anyway) isn’t the best/wisest use of your energy. By going by “feel” a bit in training and certainly when you go on bigger outings you can teach yourself what the correct effort is for you and it will be more second nature. Hope this helps!

    keith brown on #68536

    Thanks Mark!

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