How To Train for a Fourteener When You Live A Sea Level

The Best Tips to Prepare You for Your High Elevation Vacation
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The Best Tips to Prepare You for Your High Elevation Vacation

Question: How do I train for a Fourteener?

One of my goals is to hike a Fourteener but I'm stuck in the Midwest for now. So how do I train for that? –Tracy Wheatley

Answer: We asked Colorado Fourteeners Initiative Executive Director Lloyd Athearn for his advice.

Athearn previously lived at 200 feet in Oregon and regularly climbed between 10,000 and 14,000 feet on the weekends.

How far in advance should you start training for a high elevation trip?

“The earlier the better,” Athearn says. The lower the altitude where you live, the harder it’s going to be for you to adjust to the thin air. But the better conditioned you are, the better your chances for a successful trip.

Hike with boots and a pack to simulate the experience you'll have when you are actually on the mountain. This will also help you get used to your boots and other equipment, avoiding problems such as blisters.

Even at low elevation, find steep hills to hike up. Worst-case for you flat-landers, look for highway overpasses, skyscraper stairwells, stadiums, and other places you can practice gaining elevation. Mix in other activities that strengthen your legs, like running and swimming.

What precautions should you take when you start hiking at elevation?

Make sure you stay hydrated. Also, start off slower than you would at low elevation. Pay attention to headaches, labored breathing, and generally not feeling well. If you feel awful, head back down.

Also important: Use sunscreen, as the thinner atmosphere filters out fewer UV rays at high elevation.