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AMS this last trip: How bad was it really?
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By Danielyaris
From Salem, OR
Aug 30, 2011
Me in the cascades

Just got back from a Rainier attempt. I tend to acclimate not so well and was looking for a slow climb, and two nights.

The partner I went with I guess misunderstood what a slow climb was. We started out on the tourist trail and he was passing everyone right off the start. We had at least 45lb packs. we then crossed the nisqually unroped as he was already ahead of me. I followed him at a fast pace to a camp around 9200 on the Kautz route. I felt like complete crap with a headache but thought nothing of it as my appetite was there. I also hyper extended my knee on a scree patch too so I took it easy that night.

The next morning my headache was gone but so was my appetite, but I drank a quart of water. I also had Diarrhea wich was a pain to put in my blue bag but I did. I could hardly eat some snacks. We then started climbing up again. We then made it to the 11000 rappel and rapped down. He left me to coil the rope and it was a chore. I was having trouble and started to feel drunk like. I had also almost finished my two quarts of water. Things just felt really weird and I did not feel 100% and I felt like I was going to vomit. We then climbed back up what we just rapped from and I told him I was dizzy and not feeling good. By the time I removed my prussik and repacked my pack he was already a few hundred yards down. I got my stuff together but felt so dizzy I had to move slow.

By the time I got back on a snow field I could not see my partner anymore and I started following footsteps. Not many on this route but we saw two other climbers going down so I guessed it was theirs. I followed them until they hit a crevasse. I was alone and did not think it was worth it. I then tried to get on the scree slopes but there were moats that were huge. I finally got on a section and climbed up about 30 feet and then a large piece that I thought was solid cut loose with me. I slid about 20 feet (10 feet from a huge moat). I screamed loud as I fell but no one heard me. My second tool wich was holstered on my hip belt had jabbed into my side a bit and I now have bruises all over. I was pretty thirsty too and out of water.

I finally got to the top of the scree and slowly walked the top until I saw footsteps in the snow down below. I made it there and then slowly walked and probed all the time feeling worse. I was scared as I was so clumsy feeling. I passed so many crevasses and kept going. Eventually I caught up to my partner at a relatively flat spot and I was complete spent. I said I needed water and he said "waters at paradise" and he took off again. I took a few minutes to catch my breath and started again.

The rest was a scary blur I remember using two tools to down climb steep never ending snow. I very long traverse above a rushing waterfall. The traverse lasted so long and I was so clumsy. I remembered that the water fall was just above the glacier so I knew I was kinda close. Midway across the traverse I threw up and was almost freaking out. I can't explain the feeling but I was almost losing it. I could hear the water from the falls below me rushing and I was so dizzy, and I knew if I fell the snow was too soft and it was too steep to self arrest. I just kept going slow and steady.

I then remember getting to the bottom of the snow slope that is the Fan. One last visible crevasse to cross and then to cross the nisqually. I walked across as fast as I could. I could hear water rushing underneath at times and it freaked me out. I knew it was also full of hidden crevasses. I then made it to the scree hill next to a waterfall and climbed it, to try and hit one of the trials. I kept walking for some time and hit the skyline trail with one mile to go to the parking lot. It was now dark and I was dry heaving.

I finally made it and chugged some water. I then threw it all up. After an hour of driving home (I was passenger) I had a coke and a small bag of chips that I held down. Once home I was pretty much all cramped up and drank some water and passed out. From the time of the decent I had not even gone to the bathroom once and didn't until I woke up the next day all sore and bruised up with a cut on my side. I was hungry though. I live at sea level.


Was that bad AMS? I have never been like that before and it scared me. I've had the headaches before but never this bad. I'm in my mid 30's run at least 3miles a week, do crossfit a few times a week, ride my bike, and indoor rock climb a few times a week. I'm in good shape though not in super shape I guess.


What would have happened if I kept trying to climb? I'm going to make an appointment with my doctor too. thanks for any info


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By climber pat
From Las Cruces, NM
Aug 30, 2011

That sounds pretty bad too me. You could have died if you went higher. It sounds like you were lucky not dying during the descent. Being in shape does not have much effect on getting AMS or not getting AMS. You need a new partner; partners are to enhance safety in the mountains.


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By Phil Lauffen
From The Bubble
Aug 30, 2011
RMNP skiing. Photo by Nodin de Saillan

It sounds like there were a lot more issues than AMS...

Your partner sounds like a tool. Find a new one.

Why did you not have any water?!?! How many liters were you carrying when you started out? You shouldn't be dependent on your partner to ration your water. You clearly had severe dehydration.

Also, it sounds like the technical difficulty of the route was too great for your skill set. Maybe you should try an easier route next time.


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By Robert Buswold
From Longmont, CO
Aug 30, 2011
Clear Creek Canyon, Capitalist Crag

I don't know if the technical difficulty was too much for him. If he wasn't dehydrated and didn't have MS he probably could have handled everything ok.

Big things here are that your partner is an idiot and a liability, and you should have had more water. A little better planning is probably in order, and better communication between you and your future partners (I'd hope you wouldn't climb with the douche you were with again). Hopefully you are feeling better now and continue to heal up. Good luck man.


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By dorseyec
Aug 30, 2011

Ya the only thing I would say is, get a new partner. Not worth climbing with a guy like him as it doesn't sound like you can count on him in the least.


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By Jim Davidson
From Fort Collins, Colorado
Aug 30, 2011

That is quite a story. Glad you made it down - sounds like it was pretty close. By paragraph 2 of your report, it sounded like you need a new partner. Your medical condition: I have seen lots of AMS and had it myself a bit, and never that bad. Sounds like big electrolyte imbalance to me. Did you drink huge amounts of water initially, without much food or gatorade-type drinks? if so, you can get hyponatremia, which is too much water and not enough salts (layman's words). It can seem like dehydration, which makes people drink more water, which makes it worse (see running literature). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia Something to consider.


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By Toby Butterfield
From Portland, OR
Aug 30, 2011
Fear and Loathing.

Your partner sounds like a fucking lunatic. He clearly just wants to solo shit anyway, don't climb with him anymore.


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By DannyUncanny
From Vancouver
Aug 30, 2011

Robert Buswold wrote:
I don't know if the technical difficulty was too much for him. If he wasn't dehydrated and didn't have MS he probably could have handled everything ok. Big things here are that your partner is an idiot and a liability, and you should have had more water. A little better planning is probably in order, and better communication between you and your future partners (I'd hope you wouldn't climb with the douche you were with again). Hopefully you are feeling better now and continue to heal up. Good luck man.


Idiot, maybe, liability, no. A liability is someone with altitude sickness that you have to help down the mountain.

Sounds like communication was broken from the start. Both are at fault for not communicating, but the OP is the one who is paying the price and who should have sorted it out at the very start. What happened was more like two people soloing with some shared equipment. That could be fine if both people agreed and were expecting it. looks like he was expecting to act as independent climbers and the OP was expecting to support each other.


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By Buff Johnson
Aug 30, 2011
smiley face

viral/bacterial; exacerbating hypoxia & fatigue problems with altitude; & dehydration. nice partner


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By Danielyaris
From Salem, OR
Aug 30, 2011
Me in the cascades

Thanks for the replies all, and Yes feeling much better besides being sore. Yesterday I just ate, and drank and stayed home. I drank 3 quarts of water before the decent without eating much, so reading about hyponatremia I had quite a bit of the symtoms too. A lot of them are similar to AMS.

I won't be climbing with him again (last minute online partner) and will only go with friends I have been climbing with for years. My fault for going with a stranger.


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By Mike Best
From Charlotte, NC
Aug 30, 2011
Edge of a Dream

Jim Davidson wrote:
Sounds like big electrolyte imbalance to me. Did you drink huge amounts of water initially, without much food or gatorade-type drinks? if so, you can get hyponatremia, which is too much water and not enough salts (layman's words). It can seem like dehydration, which makes people drink more water, which makes it worse (see running literature). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia Something to consider.


I think you nailed it here. You might want to see the doctor just because you shouldn't take all medical advice from MP, but I can say that I had very similar circumstances to this just less than a week ago on Mt. Whitney doing the East Buttress. I was at sleeping at altitude (12,000 ft) and could not stop cramping (not just in my legs but in hands, abs, biceps) and had bad headaches with some manageable nausea. Having never suffered any AMS related symptoms at all up to 19,000 ft and being in good shape, it was very concerning. My first reaction was, "Crap I've got AMS, hey it happens to good climbers regardless of shape."

I ended up descending first light in the morning, drinking 4 large gatorades grabbing lunch in Lone Pine and by the afternoon was back climbing (at around 9,000-10,000 ft) and feeling great with no cramps at all. One key factor in the differentiation between this and AMS is that I didn't feel drastically better desceding from 12,000 ft to 7,000 ft. The difference was only slightly better and it wasn't until I drank all the gatorade that I felt better. Most AMS sufferers that I've seen feel significantly better descending just a few thousand feet.

After speaking with a doctor (she's a climber and has altitude medical training), some runners and a nutritionist, they all gave similar feedback. All said you can probably get by with some Hyponatremia at sea level, but mix in the altitude (which dehydrates anyways) and it's a bad result. In retrospect where I went wrong was the day before having several nalgenes of water and no electrolytes. I effectively flushed my system and it couldn't recover. Painful lesson to learn but that's my experience and it sounds similar.


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By Ali Jaffri
From Westminster, CO
Aug 30, 2011
At the village in Hunza Valley, Karakoram, Pakistan

Daniel,
Im sorry to hear about your experience on Rainier. While you should learn from this experience, dont let it discourage you from going back to higher elevations.

Certain things that help me and have helped clients of mine train and do well in the Karakoram:

1.Back home SLOWLY work on acclimatization. If you fly from Seattle to Denver and sleep there, do you sleep well? what if you drove to Estes Park or Nederland (about 8000 feet), see how well you can sleep there.

2. Its good to drink water, but if you're pushing yourself hard you will sweat and lose electrolytes (the previous posts have already covered this) so make sure you carry salt crackers or GU gels. Take the time to keep your electrolytes in check.

3. If you are planning on a single-push all the way from sea-level to 14,000 it might be a good idea to spend a few days at around 5000-7000 feet just chilling, reading, walking around, eating and sleeping.

4. Some of my clients have used Diamox to help them acclimatize, talk to your doctor about it.

A good friend of mine who lived in Boulder (5000 feet) hiked up to 13,000 feet and got edema (after spending a few weeks at sea-level). Later on he went to climb big walls in Patagonia and was fine.

Hope this helps.


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By Danielyaris
From Salem, OR
Sep 3, 2011
Me in the cascades

Jim Davidson wrote:
That is quite a story. Glad you made it down - sounds like it was pretty close. By paragraph 2 of your report, it sounded like you need a new partner. Your medical condition: I have seen lots of AMS and had it myself a bit, and never that bad. Sounds like big electrolyte imbalance to me. Did you drink huge amounts of water initially, without much food or gatorade-type drinks? if so, you can get hyponatremia, which is too much water and not enough salts (layman's words). It can seem like dehydration, which makes people drink more water, which makes it worse (see running literature). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyponatremia Something to consider.



Mike Best wrote:
I think you nailed it here. You might want to see the doctor just because you shouldn't take all medical advice from MP, but I can say that I had very similar circumstances to this just less than a week ago on Mt. Whitney doing the East Buttress. I was at sleeping at altitude (12,000 ft) and could not stop cramping (not just in my legs but in hands, abs, biceps) and had bad headaches with some manageable nausea. Having never suffered any AMS related symptoms at all up to 19,000 ft and being in good shape, it was very concerning. My first reaction was, "Crap I've got AMS, hey it happens to good climbers regardless of shape." I ended up descending first light in the morning, drinking 4 large gatorades grabbing lunch in Lone Pine and by the afternoon was back climbing (at around 9,000-10,000 ft) and feeling great with no cramps at all. One key factor in the differentiation between this and AMS is that I didn't feel drastically better desceding from 12,000 ft to 7,000 ft. The difference was only slightly better and it wasn't until I drank all the gatorade that I felt better. Most AMS sufferers that I've seen feel significantly better descending just a few thousand feet. After speaking with a doctor (she's a climber and has altitude medical training), some runners and a nutritionist, they all gave similar feedback. All said you can probably get by with some Hyponatremia at sea level, but mix in the altitude (which dehydrates anyways) and it's a bad result. In retrospect where I went wrong was the day before having several nalgenes of water and no electrolytes. I effectively flushed my system and it couldn't recover. Painful lesson to learn but that's my experience and it sounds similar.



We have a winner! talked to the Doc today and that is what he said it was. (with some mild exhaustion from not stopping to take a break but hey I'm a former Marine) I'm doing fine now besides the few bumps and bruises. I just kept drinking NUUN as it tasted so good this week and eating salty fried food. Fast forward to today and it no longer tastes so good but I'm feeling great. He also said most people experience some form of AMS too but ignore it and that probably made it worse. He also said I had a case of "clueless partner" as he should have noticed when I started to act weird (I could not tie prussiks, boot laces, or coil ropes and saying I felt drunk like and was clumsy). I'm just glad I didn't slip down one of those exposed snow slopes and fall over Wilson glacier falls. I guess my know it all partner did not know it all and almost got me killed. Lesson learned.
cheers


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By bwalt822
Sep 19, 2011

Cascadeclimbers.com

Is this your thread by chance and was PuckerJunkie your partner?


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