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Pretty_Lilly's avatar

Have you ever lived in or visited a high elevation city ?

Asked by Pretty_Lilly (4655points) March 28th, 2010

I have always wondered about how every day life is in high altitude cities such as Denver,Flagstaff,Cheyenne etc,etc. How much different is it from life at sea level ? Do people get winded easier while exercising ?
I have heard it affects baking times and screws up with the operation of Plasma Tvs but besides that,is it that much different?

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18 Answers

cockswain's avatar

I live in Denver and head up to the mountains regularly. Without question every time I change altitude I feel a difference. When I first moved here, it took a few days to adjust under normal conditions, but getting my endurance up to what I could do at sea level took months. Similarly, when I jog at sea level now, I can go way more miles before I’m even winded. When I go snowboarding or hiking, it is way harder to catch my breath walking around at 10–12000 ft. It generally takes a few days to acclimate, and water boils at a slightly lower temperature the higher you go. Because of that, you have to cook pasta and whatnot longer than at sea level. I haven’t noticed any problems with TVs.

Mamradpivo's avatar

I grew up in Denver and live in Oregon now. I went home for the first time in about a year over the holidays and I actually had to lie down for a few hours to acclimate myself to the altitude.

One thing that I have noticed is true is you get drunk a lot faster at altitude.

A lot of Olympians train in Colorado because of the slightly lower amount of oxygen in the air. So when they go down to sea level, they breathe a little better.

Also, low-grade gasoline in Colorado is 85-octane but everywhere else I’ve ever been starts at 87. I have no idea what this means, but I think it’s altitude-related.

cockswain's avatar

@Mamradpivo I love the alcohol effect. If I head up higher, I get way more bang for the buck.

The octane thing is because you need less octane/volume of air because there is less air. Engines run on a certain fuel/air ratio, so less air means you need less combustible octane.

oreo45's avatar

I live near Woodland park co(8.500 feet)
When you move to a higher elavation, to adjust to it slowly. people up here are most likely in much better shape lan those in lower elv.

jaytkay's avatar

Baking is a little different, otherwise not an issue.

My mother grew up at 7,000 feet. My uncle & aunt live in that house, which my great-grandparents built circa 1890. Visiting there from the midwest for the past 40 years, I never noticed anything special. (Except the spectacular scenery!) .

snowberry's avatar

I lived in Park City, UT. The elevation at our house was 7400 feet. Park City Ski Resort is not as high as some of our other ski resorts, but it starts at about 9000 feet and goes up, and our highest mountain, King’s Peak tops out at 13,500 feet. If you live and work at any particular altitude, you get used to the oxygen level. But when we lived in Salt Lake (about 4500 feet) and hiked up to the top of Kings peak, I noticed I got a bit winded, but then I was hiking uphill in the first place.

lilikoi's avatar

When you live at a high elevation, your body adjusts.

All kinds of things change with elevation from an engineering standpoint. The boiling point of water changes, air pressure changes, batteries don’t last as long in cold weather, some equipment are not designed for extreme environmental conditions and will fail when exposed to those, etc etc etc. The climate is different. The flora and fauna you see is different….

I get winded noticeably faster at high elevations.

snowberry's avatar

Yes. I remember camping at a very high altitude, and being so high that I could stick my fingers in boiling water, and they didn’t get burned. Now THAT weirded me out!

Likeradar's avatar

Yeah. The main difference I notice is that when I go to sea level, I can jog without feeling like I’m gasping for air for about 50% more miles than I can way up here.

Les's avatar

I lived in Laramie, WY for nearly four years. The altitude is 7200 feet. It is much different than sea level. When I first moved there, it took me about a month to actually get a little comfortable with the altitude. The first week I was there, I felt like I couldn’t get enough sleep. I didn’t feel sick (though, I know some people who had headaches their first week), I was just exhausted. All the time. Even as soon as I woke up in the morning. Not only is Laramie high, but it is really dry, too. That combination is brutal. If you don’t drink water all day long, you can get dehydrated quite easily.

Doing even the easiest exercises is really hard. I walked a lot, and I’d get winded very easily. When my parents would come to visit me, we’d have to walk slowly so they didn’t lose their breath. It is really funny because you feel so out of shape, but that really has nothing to do with it. I had a friend visit me who runs marathons, and even she got winded on an easy hike we took.

Baking and cooking is tricky. At high altitudes, you don’t need as much fat in you cakes and cookies (the fat helps things get fluffy and moist). So you have to cut down on sugar, butter, etc. while increasing the amount of flour you use. Boiling water is hard, too. As you decrease the ambient pressure, you can boil water at lower and lower temperatures. Instead of 100 C (at sea level), water boils at about 85 – 90 C at high elevations. What this means is that pastas, rice and anything else that you cook that has a high water content takes a little longer to cook. Also, coffee tastes different when you use a drip coffee pot.

Oh, and it takes a lot fewer drinks at the bar to feel the effects of the altitude, if you know what I mean. ;-)

Brian1946's avatar

I walked through Muktinath, Nepal, after trekking over Thorong La pass in the Himalayas.

Even though the elevation of Muktinath is about 12,160 feet, I wasn’t the least bit winded because it was after walking over the pass, which is about 17,700 feet in altitude.

thriftymaid's avatar

Yes, I have visited a few highly elevated areas. I’ve never lived in one.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

I find that over 11,000 feet, I have to pace myself so I do not get winded. AT the top of Mt Evans CO, 14,484 ft I have to be very careful!

I have camped at high altitude but never lived there. I live at 3700 feet.

thriftymaid's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence I had mountain sickness at 11,000; very scary.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Mountain sickness is very scary and risky!

oreo45's avatar

Mountain(altitude) sickness affects people deferently. I got sick as a dog, some people even need to have oxygen.

bob_'s avatar

I once played soccer in Mexico City. It was no picnic.

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