I could go down the rabbit hole on acclimatization for sure 🙂 Is there a specific question you have about it that I can answer?
February 5, 2023 at 7:23 pm #75388Piedad Barillas-BirdParticipant
Hi Chantelle I would love to geek out on this. You were speaking about it in our talk today and I would love more info. Warmly-Pie in Kaikoura, NZ.
Hi Chantelle, you had mentioned to Suzy about it taking 4-6weeks for acclimatizing (sea level to about 1500m above sea level). My brain is trying to break this down that higher altitude less O2. haemoglobin needs to increase yes? to bring more O2 to the tissues is that correct? What does training look like ? Would you just stay at Z1 majority and or what exactly is happening with blood plasma is it thickening or thinning Im so curious. -Pie.
Regardless of the altitude, it all takes time. That is the reason why on the high altitude expeditions, a lot of time is spent at different basecamps to give the body time to adapt. 4-6 weeks is for full acclimatization, but within 2-3 weeks of exposure, there is a good deal of adaptation that happens. That’s why you see on the bigger expeditions, there is a lot of hanging around at camp 🙂
Thanks for asking about this Pie. I’d quite like to go down the rabbit hole about this too Chantelle. Maybe it could be a good webinar topic one day.
I’m now in the French Alps and in spite of a lean snow season I’m getting in some surprisingly fun alpine and skate skiing as well as runs. This time time I’ve gone from sea level to only 1500m. This doesn’t seem to be an extreme change for me and I’m feeling like my zone training hasn’t been challenged. But I’ve only been away 3 months and this is a home for me so my body knows it well.
In contrast, a few years ago when my son was on the WC freeski circuit, I based myself in Breckenridge, Colorado for about 5 weeks each winter. The first year I was there I really noticed the extreme change in altitude, but each year it got easier. To the point where the day after arrival I could easily boot-pack a reasonable distance with my skis from the top lift to the ridgeline at about 13000 feet. I used to say that my body said, “oh ok, so we’re back here again”. However there was a threshold that I reached with my energy levels there i.e they kinda plateaued. I also noticed I had to eat waayyyy more fat there in order to maintain my weight, so am aware there was a metabolic factor involved for me. So my question is, does the acclimatization phase/length vary quite a lot from one person to another based on previous exposure to altitude change or are there metabolic considerations as well for altitude adaptation?
Thanks for your thoughts- and for another vote on making this a lecture topic. I will see what I can do 🙂
There is absolutely a metabolic factor here- just think about all of those magical things your body needs to do to keep you alive at a higher elevation. Your respiratory rate increases, HR increases in response, your body is working to rebalance plasma levels in the blood and produce EPO…all that has a metabolic cost. The amount/duration for acclimatization does vary person to person- and can also vary quite a bit within one person. Some people never experience any serious issues with altitude, others experience less issues with more exposure to altitude, while others may have no issues for years and then suddenly they do have issues. We are all individual and also our bodies do vary from one day to the next, one season to the next, one phase of life to the next…and all of these factors will play a role in our individual experiences with altitude. The most important thing is to notice how YOU feel and do the things you know can help you acclimatize the best way possible. Proper rest, proper ascension rates, more sleep, increase your fluid intake, take it easy on your workouts (if you notice they feel a lot harder), train lower if you can, eat well, notice any typical Altitude Sickness symptoms and don’t brush them off.
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