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Mountaineering The Mountaineering forum is for discussion that relates directly to mountaineering (alpinism, climbing).


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  #1  
Old 06-22-2007, 04:35 PM
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hoosierdaddy hoosierdaddy is offline
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Caffeine at altitude?

What is your experience with caffeine at over 10,000 feet?

I gotta have my coffee in the morning! I don’t like tea for the equivalent caffeine rush and caffeine equivalents such as Java Juice, caffeine pills or something similar doesn’t seem to offer a viable solution as I'll explain soon. For that kick-start that I "require", I know there has to be unpleasant or even dangerous physiological tradeoffs at altitude.

Here’s my thinking: Caffeine is a vaso-constrictor as well as a diuretic. The vaso-constriction of alveoli capillaries in the lungs slows the exchange of O2, which is already in short supply at altitude. Your heart is already beating faster to get more oxygen in your blood system than at your normal altitude. If you’re already having trouble catching your breath at 10,000’, it doesn’t make sense to add fuel to the fire in the form of caffeine to make your heart work even harder. The caffeine caused vaso-constriction also causes blood vessels in the extremities to constrict which will make one's hands & feet get colder faster.

The diuretic effect makes you lose water thru urination. You dehydrate faster at altitude than normal due to drier air, cold and greater exertion so you are making it worse with a diuretic. Not an ideal situation when one considers that few alpinists get an optimal amount of water in the system on a daily basis anyway.

So, is there a solution other than giving up my beloved cup of java?

Last edited by hoosierdaddy : 06-22-2007 at 04:44 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-22-2007, 06:12 PM
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braknstuf braknstuf is offline
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Guarana

Have you given Guarana a try, its popular in a lot of energy drinks and contains natural caffeine as well as the same chemicals found in chocolate. I know it will cure the caffeine headaches that I used to get. Not sure how easy it would be to pack, but im sure it comes in pills and mabey even powder form. here is a wiki on Guarana - perhaps worth a try?
Eric
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  #3  
Old 06-22-2007, 06:31 PM
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Random_Walker Random_Walker is offline
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Coffee with Altitude

Have spent time above 10,000 feet.
I always have my mornings cup of coffee as I do at lower altitudes.
It is probably a good thing to keep these things in my mind as I ponder the sunrise from a rock at altitude,
with my cup of coffee (double shot in the dark)
Thinking of the details in your post I suppose it is not the best thing for me, at any altitude.
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Old 06-22-2007, 07:37 PM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoosierdaddy
What is your experience with caffeine at over 10,000 feet?
So, is there a solution other than giving up my beloved cup of java?

Well, you've already offered some good reasoning for avoidance. However, there is much more to say on the caffeine issue, but I'll just try to answer your question a little...

There are some newer bodybuilding supplements that have caffeine in them that also contain a substance that counters its vaso-constriction properties. And they also add the amino acid L-arginine for dilation of the blood vessels (by way of inducing nitric oxide).

I'll get back to you on the countering substance... I cannot remember it off the top of my head...

Reality
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  #5  
Old 06-23-2007, 06:47 AM
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hoosierdaddy hoosierdaddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Reality
There are some newer bodybuilding supplements that have caffeine in them that also contain a substance that counters its vaso-constriction properties. And they also add the amino acid L-arginine for dilation of the blood vessels (by way of inducing nitric oxide).

I'll get back to you on the countering substance... I cannot remember it off the top of my head...

Reality
YEAH! That's the type of info I'm looking for! Please add more when you have time! Now if it just tastes like Starbucks!
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  #6  
Old 06-23-2007, 10:44 AM
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Reality Reality is offline
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Ok, I found my notes on the other countering substance that I mentioned earlier.

There's an alkloid called rutaecarpine that is extracted from the a fruit (Evodia rutaecarpa) that relaxes (dilates) vessels by way of N.O. production.

The information I've shared in this thread just sprung from the idea of countering the effects of caffeine. In my opinion, it's best just to avoid the caffeine and forgo the effort to counter it...

However, if I had to do it, I'd probably use a little bit of AAKG here and there.

Reality
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Old 06-27-2007, 10:48 AM
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Shawn Shawn is offline
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my favorite places to hike and camp are above 10,000- love my morning coffee just the way it is thank you, i don't notice any weird side effects, but then again, i live at elevation.
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  #8  
Old 06-27-2007, 02:55 PM
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hoosierdaddy hoosierdaddy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shawn
my favorite places to hike and camp are above 10,000- love my morning coffee just the way it is thank you, i don't notice any weird side effects, but then again, i live at elevation.
Ya know, you may have hit on something that I didn't take into consideration. I live at sea level and usually have a rough time acclimating to altitude. I wonder if the addition of my coffee fetish exacerbates the problem?
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  #9  
Old 06-29-2007, 06:22 PM
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big_load big_load is offline
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I usually taper off my caffeine consumption before any trip, more so for high-altitude trips. I still drink 8-16 oz of coffee most mornings, about 1/3 of what I drink at home. I'm a bit poky above 12k under the best of circumstances, but I probably can't blame coffee for that.
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  #10  
Old 06-20-2008, 06:09 PM
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c4jc88 c4jc88 is offline
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Another option for getting your caffeine fix are gels. Gu makes a double espresso gel that has twice the normal caffeine as their other caffeinated gels. Also Clif makes an espresso flavored gel with caffeine. I used both on my Rainier trip with no negative affects at altitude. Jelly Belly also makes sport beans with electrolytes and caffeine which I also used with no negative side effects. It beats trying to brew coffee the morning of an ascent when I am trying to get my harness on and get roped up.

Jason B
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