View Full Version : Summit Health Issues

12-17-2007, 01:08 PM
I drove the Auto Road in Sept, 2006. It was absolutely stunning - clear and crisp, just a light haze. I wish I could have enjoyed it more, but I was pretty light-headed and headachy. No chest pains, but it sure seemed odd that I felt so out of sorts. 6300 is not all that high.

Now, i am in generally good health. I drove through the Italian Alps (13500 elevation at the pass) in the late 1980s without any difficulty. Yes, we stopped at the summit to throw snowballs in July and all that. But I ddin't have headaches or shortness of breath or anything like that. A year after that, I was on top of Garmische in Southern Germany, and felt nauseous the entire time.

Have any of you readers felt altitude sickness up on Mt. Washington? I am putting it down to the completely scary drive up the AutoRoad.

Bill O
12-17-2007, 01:36 PM
Its pretty rare to get altitude sickness at 6,200 feet. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but its not likely. Shortness of breath is certainly common, especially with 20% less air than at sea level.

True altitude sickness (accute mountain sickness) isn't something you get from driving to the top of a mountain, walking around for an hour, and going down. It just doesn't set in that fast.

From my experience AMS typically sets in around 8,000 feet, and it doesn't happen instantly. That's why people don't acclimate to climb Mount Rainier, they get up and down before you get sick.

Also, nobody really gets AMS from flying on jets which have a cabin altitude between 5,000 and 7,500 feet. Dehydrated from the dry air, but not AMS.

12-17-2007, 11:25 PM
I didn't have any issues with my drive up to the summit in August.

But I did have issues out in New Mexico, skiing at Ski Apache in Ruidoso. The base lodge was at 9200 feet and I was exhausted just walking around.

Not sure what altitude starts most people's issues, but it'd be interesting to figure it out.