Showing results for 
Show  only  | Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
Welcome REI Co-op Members!
We're glad you're here. If you can't access the Co-op Members section of the community,
click here for instructions on how to join the section that's just for you.

Advice on camping at elevation - how do I prepare?

Hey Friends!

I live in North Louisiana and I am in need of some advice.

I volunteer for a youth ministry that takes high schoolers to summer camp. In the past 4 years I have gotten married, had a baby and have gotten out of shape. 

Our camp trip this summer is in Colorado around (10,000 - 13,000 ft) elevation. To top it off I am asthmatic. 👌

How do you cope and/or adjust to such high elevation rapidly? I have taken this camp trip before and we ended up hiking an almost 14,000 ft summit in 1 day and it was rough on me. Honestly just walking around camp was rough. I had to get a rescue inhaler while at camp. This trip is in 2 months and I feel so unprepared; physically and mentally. What do?



9 Replies

It helps to be basically fit.  Beyond that there is no much you can do beforehand.  There are some prescription medications (eg Diamox) available that can help with altitude sickness symptoms so I would consult your doctor and also plan to carry whatever emergency medication you may require for your condition.  Since you know that you can have a reaction I would also make a backup plan in case you cannot enjoy your trip as you are planning.  

Generally altitude is not an issue below about 8000 feet...passenger airplanes are typically pressurized to the equivalent of between 6000 and 8000 feet.    Plan to spend some days in a comfortable place with low to moderate activity between 8000 feet and 1000 feet immediately prior to your actual trip to help you acclimatize.  How long depends on the person but at least 1 night and 2 or more nights is better.  Traveling higher during the days between can also help acclimatize.

Mild headaches are common and so is dehydration.  The air tends to be dry at altitude.  Staying hydrated and taking ibuprophen (if you are medically able) can help overcome mild symptoms.  Anything more server and you should descend below ~8000 feet as quickly as you can. 

Here is a link reasonably trustworthy source for more detailed information...

Thanks! 👍


a hearty second to OG's comments.  Plan on taking it easy for the first couple of days and stay hydrated (water, not booze)

Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.



We agree: The only sure fire way to adjust to altitude is time. Avoid all alcohol. Stay hydrated. You don't want to have a medical condition now that you are a parent.

Gin clear, never fear. Piss too yellow, worried fellow.

Lol thanks. 

No alcohol on the premises so it won't. Be an issue. Thanks for the advice. 👍

well, first of all, forget doing it rapidly!

like others here have said, it takes a few days, so allow for a few days, slowing increasing your camping elevation.

or, do some days hikes up to an altitude, then go back down to camp...give yourself 2-3 days.

btw, there are several john muir trail FB pages that deal with this subject daily.  there is also a jmt fb site dedicated to adjusting to altitude, I believe they're all linked.

go slow, and good luck!

REI Member Since 1979


I scheduled two camp trips prior in higher altitudes to somewhat get used to hiking in higher altitudes but nothing will compare to these 14ers. Thanks for the advice. 👍


Don't know much about hiking at elevations, but maybe something like this would help for the short term?


Superusers do not speak on behalf of REI and may have received
one or more gifts or other benefits from the co-op.