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Altitude sickness at North Rim

Hendersonville, NC
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Altitude sickness at North Rim

Greetings from Western North Carolina,

I realize a lot has been written about altitude sickness on several of the forums, and I have a printout of a good thread from the Colorado forum on the subject as far as preventive measures and treatments.

Still, even armed with this knowledge, I'm a bit worried about elevation issues at the North Rim, where I'll be arriving on a Wednesday afternoon next September and staying until either Friday afternoon or Saturday morning. I'm not planning to do any crazy hikes or drink like a frat boy, but am hoping that altitude sickness won't ruin easy/moderate hikes, enjoying a beer at the lodge and just being up there in general. Do most people adjust after the first day?

The good news is that, to start my road trip, I'll be staying in somewhat high-altitude places like Fort Collins, CO, Jackson, WY/Grand Teton and Yellowstone. The bad news is that after that, I'll be at low elevation in Oregon and the Northern California coast before heading to Zion. Will Zion's elevation prepare me a bit for the North Rim, you think? Also, I live at about 2,000 feet and spend a lot of time on the Blue Ridge Parkway at about 4,000 to 5,000 feet, so I'm hoping that helps, but I read in my AAA Guide Book last night that 8,000 feet is when altitude sickness can become a problem.

Any feedback would be most appreciated.

Ann Arbor, Michigan
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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1. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

Altitude affects everyone differently but, unless you're unusually susceptible, I doubt that the North Rim elevations will be a problem for you and certainly not to the extent of becoming true altitude sickness.

Minor altitude effects, like headaches and loss of appetite, *might* show up in some people around 8K feet but my experience (completely anecdotal based on traveling with various friends) is that maybe one person in five had even those slight symptoms at around 9-10K feet. Lots of fluids, a couple of asprin/ibuprofin/etc. and a good night's rest have always done the trick.

South Jersey, USA
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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2. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

More then likely you won't feel the effects if you are just walking around doing things. Where you might feel some of the effect most would be the Bright Angel Point trail if you decide to do this. Most of that would be hiking back to the lodge from the point and you will feel out of breath. Just stop often and rest and drink plenty of water.

Bright Angel Point is a great viewing point and is definitely worth the short walk to get there!

SJG

Seattle
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for Grand Canyon National Park
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3. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

Some people are more sensitive than others. It may help that you will be at some altitude with a few weeks, but maybe the effect will wear off by the time you get to North Rim.

We live at sea level and routinely go to Snowbird, Utah at 8,000 feet with no problems or discomfort at all. (My husband does have trouble sleeping the first night, and swimming the next day). The KEY is to stay well-hydrated, and don't overdo the exertion first day. A beer on the terrace should be fine (and highly advisable for the gorgeous view). The caution about alcohol is due to its dehydrating effect, but that applies to excesses, not to one beer.

Of course if you have severe symptions---sudden severe headache, vomiting, chest pain, etc. you should get medical attention. But these are extremely rare in healthy people at lower altitudes (and 8000 feet is "lower" in comparison to places in Peru and the Himalays where peole are hiking at 15,000 feet or higher.)

TUCSON
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4. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

I had absolutly no altitude effects. I came from Tucson, 2500' above sea level and was fine the whole week!

Hendersonville, NC
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5. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

Thanks a lot everyone. I feel a lot better now. Here I've been beyond excited the past few months counting down to my trip next September, spending countless hours planning, and then it hit me that it all could be ruined by altitude sickness.

I do triathlons back home here so I am pretty fit, but I know that even the fittest people can be done in by things like altitude and dehydration. Anyway, I'll be sure to keep the water intake at a higher rate than the beer intake.

Cheers, and thanks again.

Cape Girardeau, Mo
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6. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

>>"Anyway, I'll be sure to keep the water intake at a higher rate than the beer intake."<<

Drink bourbon and water and kill 2 birds with one stone! :)

Silver Spring...
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for Supai
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7. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

For the unlucky few, 8000 feet is enough to cause symptoms, possibly including nausea, vomiting and headaches. However, it's really the change in altitude that's the problem. If you're at Zion for a couple of days, you'll partially acclimate; the guideline I've read is 1,000 feet per day. Thus, when you go to the North Rim, it will be as if you only went up 6,000 feet -- which causes symptoms very rarely.

8. Re: Altitude sickness at North Rim

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