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I'm going to Colorado to visit a friend and we will be going on a week long trek across a couple of 14'ners. I'm looking for some ways to help prepare my body for trip.

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If you haven't, you might like to check out 14ers.com for current conditions and trip reports. –  xpda Jan 26 '12 at 5:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted
  1. Aerobic conditioning will help a little with the altitude.
  2. You can practice walking / running on a treadmill at 15% incline.
  3. You can practice walking with a loaded backpack. Bonus points for doing it on an inclined treadmill.
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I would definitely combine the elements of both answers. Good health is vital, but you can't really "train" for the effects of high altitude - you just have to try it. Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) can set in at surprisingly low altitudes, particularly if you haven't given yourself adequate acclimatization time, and it can be deadly. Know the signs and take care of yourself. –  Greg.Ley Mar 11 '12 at 5:13

Find an area with a large stairway (football field bleachers work great), then power-walk/run up and down them while taking a break every few runs. Keep doing this until the trip, while increasing the number of "laps" when you think you're improving.

When it starts becoming easier, pack up your backpack with your gear or simulate the weight with something heavy, and go at the stairs again (you'll want to power-walk with the backpack). You want to build your endurance, so practice breathing thoroughly while climbing.

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There isn't necessarily a way to prepare your body for the altitude. You should however:

  1. Be in good condition overall, i.e. able to handle at sea level more than you are planning to do at altitude.
  2. Try to spend several days at a lower altitude (like 7000 feet) doing some aerobic activity before trying to go higher.
  3. Drink more water than usual.
  4. Take regular doses of aspirin during your trip (or starting before your trip, ideas on this vary).

There is a lot of general information at hiking, skiing, and sports conditioning sites (ex. http://www.bodyresults.com/e2altitudecoping.asp)

Finally, know the signs of altitude sickness and make sure your hiking partners do too, so that if anyone starts getting sick, there are people there to make sure that person descends immediately (altitude sick people are sometimes too confused to realize they are in trouble).

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What benefit does thinner blood (aspirin) give to being at altitude? –  Russell Steen Mar 13 '12 at 22:43
    
I've heard that aspirin is a bad idea when at high altitude. It can mask the onset of a headache, which is one of your first warning signs that you're encountering altitude issues. Usually you take something like Diamox. –  Eyal Nov 4 '12 at 14:35
    
Highly doubtful you should be self-proscribing diamox for a 14k peak. If you have already given your body sufficient opportunity to acclimatise and you have severe altitude sickness during the climb, then you should descend or at least give yourself a day's rest without further exertion. –  Stony Sep 10 '13 at 16:05

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