My name is Jeremy and I hate altitude sickness (furthermore referred to AMS for Acute Mountain Sickness). I grew up at the base of several ten-thousand foot mountains in sunny southern California, and most of my childhood was spent driving from where I lived (1,200 ft) to the beautiful snow capped heaven that was those mountains. As a kid who didn’t know any better, I would sometimes get nauseous or have a headache, but I never thought anything of it. Looking back I can see myself flirting with the devil that is AMS.
No Time for Acclimation
I’m now thirty years old and I have recently fallen back in love with the mountains of my childhood. Because of my job, and my budding family (beautiful wife and two of the cutest kids you have ever seen) I often find myself scrambling for time in the mountains and acclimation is simply not on the schedule (acclimation is for sissies after all). As such, AMS has ruined several backpacking trips, even more day hikes, and has led to more time at the doctor than I care to spend.
Frustrated and flummoxed with AMS I began to peruse the expanse that is the internet and chanced by one of my favorite backpacking blogs (Brian’s Backpacking Blog) only to find Brian having a contest of sorts. He had also struggled with AMS and was giving a few lucky hikers the chance to try Altitude Adapt for themselves. I was one of the lucky few and I immediately set out to get hiking and see if this product would allow me back into the beautiful snowcapped heaven of my childhood.
Confusing Product Directions
I got the product in the mail and immediately dove into the packaging. I was a bit surprised and confused by the directions. I received one set of directions in a private e-mail about the contest, found another differing set in a video on their website, and there was a third different set on the packaging. It was all a bit confusing, but I was determined to put this product to the test.
My first hike with Altitude Adapt was actually a hike that I got to go on with Gossamer Gear founder (and ultralight backpacking titan) Glen Van Peski (trip report can be found here: Part 1 and Part 2). Our hike started just outside the city of Big Bear (8,500 ft) and I thought Altitude Adapt would help. I decided to follow the set of directions that included taking two tabs the day before, and two the day of. I did, and will never follow those again.
Taking them the day before left me all hyped up with nowhere to go. On the day of the hike I took another dose at the trailhead and I didn’t feel any effects of AMS. However, it could have been because we dropped elevation very quickly on the hike and I didn’t feel it was a true scientific test.
You’re Taking a Viagra?
The next hike I chose was a dandy of a hike up a picturesque canyon that I knew could give me AMS because I had suffered through it on a previous overnight backpacking trip (trip report here) on the same trail. The day of the hike came and my dad and I drove from my house (1,200 ft) to the trailhead (5,600). I pulled out my Altitude Adapt and threw one on my tongue. When my dad asked my what it was, I explained it to him the best I could, nitric oxide etc. He then raised one eyebrow and asked me “so you’re taking a Viagra?” After laughing for a bit we hiked about four miles to the saddle between a few peaks (8,000 ft). It was a stunning snow covered hike and I loved every minute of it.
I felt robust, but not overly so, and the hike went off without a hitch. I believe I had eliminated enough variables to say that Altitude Adapt did exactly what it said it would do. It assisted me in my acclimation process, but more than that, it allowed me to experience the mountains that I love without visiting the dastardly AMS fairy.
Reducing Post AMS Symptoms
If that’s not enough to give Altitude Adapt a try, there’s more. About a week after my successful Altitude Adapt fueled hike I returned to the same canyon without my Altitude Adapt. I hiked the same trail, in the same weather, at the same time of day, and I came home with AMS and it ruined my evening. After about an hour of suffering with the AMS symptoms I decided to see if Altitude Adapt could help me post AMS. I tossed one tab on my tongue and as I lay in bed I found myself feeling much better within a half an hour. It really was amazing.
While the instructions are a bit wonky, and I didn’t like how it made me feel when taken the day before; Altitude Adapt will be in my pack on every hike I take above 8,000 ft. If AMS is keeping you out of the mountains or slowing you down, do yourself a favor and pick up a six pack (of Altitude Adapt) and test it for yourself. I did and I’m looking forward to never experiencing AMS again.
Editor’s note: Jeremy was one of several readers who won a free packet of Altitude Adapt via a giveaway on Brian’s Backpacking Blog. He committed to thoroughly testing the lozenges at a height where AMS has previously caused him problems. I’d like to thank Jeremy for taking the time to write up his findings and for sharing it with us here. I think he did a great job! // Brian