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Valcarlos Route questions!

2020 Camino Guides

Sarah Fisher

Master Traveler, Novice Walker
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018 - Camino Frances
Trying to get my butt in gear and leaving for my first camino in early September. As I've been walking around Cincinnati, OH on very hot days with "air quality" alerts, I've realized just how much it affects my otherwise perfectly controlled asthma. Anyways, I was all set on going Napoleon in two parts but I'm from the Midwestern US.

So, I really have no concept of what the altitude is like...never even been in a particularly high city, I don't think. Has anyone been sensitive to the altitude changes and had trouble breathing? I'll be packing an inhaler and don't expect any issues otherwise. My city is very polluted and I always notice a huge positive difference with air quality in Europe. Just now I'm considering that perhaps I should stick to the Valcarlos route.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
Hi, Sarah :)

The altitude is not anywhere high enough to worry about thin levels of oxygen. It is lower than sub alpine. It is well below 5,000 feet in elevation. So if you are fine with breathing when flying (the cabin pressure is usually the equivalent of 4 to 5 thousand feet) then you should be fine.

Valcarlos is only slightly lower in elevation at its maximum, but because of all of the up and down elevation gain, you will actually be doing more work.

Do you have any issues with your asthma being exercise induced?
 

Sarah Fisher

Master Traveler, Novice Walker
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018 - Camino Frances
Awesome! Just wanted to check as I would prefer the Napoleon route and do have a reservation at Orrison. My asthma is generally not exercise induced though I'm definitely trying to shape up a bit before getting there. It's almost all allergy induced and I live in one of the top 10 worst cities in the country for allergies. Combine that with 90 degree bad air pollution days and I've definitely had a hard time getting a enough walking in. Luckily, I know that most of that disappears with some fresh air.

Also, I've never actually HAD any real or serious "asthma attack" and usually use my inhaler one or twice during the worst week of spring.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
Awesome! Just wanted to check as I would prefer the Napoleon route and do have a reservation at Orrison. My asthma is generally not exercise induced though I'm definitely trying to shape up a bit before getting there. It's almost all allergy induced and I live in one of the top 10 worst cities in the country for allergies. Combine that with 90 degree bad air pollution days and I've definitely had a hard time getting a enough walking in. Luckily, I know that most of that disappears with some fresh air.

Also, I've never actually HAD any real or serious "asthma attack" and usually use my inhaler one or twice during the worst week of spring.
My best wishes as you prepare for Camino, Sarah. Ultreya!!
 

Sarah Fisher

Master Traveler, Novice Walker
Camino(s) past & future
September 2018 - Camino Frances
I'm essentially one month out and I think I'm trying to find things to worry about. I'm usually an extensive planner. I love planning trips as much as taking them. So this whole "wherever the road takes me" thing is it's own challenge. Ha!
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2017)
Frances(2018)
Ingles(2019)
Aragones(2020)
Portuguese(2020)
I'm essentially one month out and I think I'm trying to find things to worry about. I'm usually an extensive planner. I love planning trips as much as taking them. So this whole "wherever the road takes me" thing is it's own challenge. Ha!
From an earlier post I made
-----------------------------------------------
My suggestion to start is this:
  1. Take a deep breath. Write down in large letters the reasons why you want to go on Camino. Place that piece of paper where you can see it every day. That way, if anxieties and fears threaten to overwhelm you as you plan, you can just breath, read what you have written, and focus on those reasons until the negative stuff fades.
  2. Make a list of questions and concerns that you have.
  3. If you find that you need help with anything which the search engine isn't covering well enough for you, post a new thread so that your question or concern can be readily seen. We are with you and will gladly help.
  4. You are ahead of the curve :- ) Many people dither and fret waiting for that perfect timing as it relates to how you feel, scheduling, and day to day life issues, which seldom align themselves perfectly. If one waits for such to occur, doing something like a pilgrimage will always be in danger of taking a back seat while you wait for that perfect alignment to happen. You have already cleared that hurdle :)
 

Sidekick

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francis SJdPP to Astorga (Apr 2018)
Astorga to Santiago (Sept 2018);Camino Ingles (2018)
Sarah, I'm from Houston - flat, flat and more flat. Air quality is not the best. I walked the CF in April (to Astorga) and never had any issues with the altitude. I went the Valcarlos route which I found to be more difficult then I expected. It is like DaveBugg said, up - down - up - down. Beautiful route but challenging. I like your spirit and I can feel your excitement. I'm returning the end of September to finish my camino and I, too, can hardly wait. I wish you the best.
 

AndreaCT

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Fall 2016 Camino Frances to Leon
Fall 2017 Camino Frances to Finisterre
May 2019 Portuguese
I'm essentially one month out and I think I'm trying to find things to worry about. I'm usually an extensive planner. I love planning trips as much as taking them. So this whole "wherever the road takes me" thing is it's own challenge. Ha!
Hi Sarah, Oh, how I wish that I was walking this September and I could run into you! Thanks for my morning laugh! I also think that I try to find things to worry about! You are going to have a great trip!
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
One of the advantages doing the route to Valcarlos is there is much more shade. You do not have really any on your entire climb up the Napoleon route. This may be a factor to consider if you are going in early September and it is very hot!
Whichever route you pick, Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Just checked: Cincinnati's elevation is about 500 feet and the elevation of the high point on the Valcarlos route is about 3,500 feet. Interpolating a table at this webpage it will feel like there is 10 percent less oxygen.

Edit: Actually what Dave said about the pressure in airplanes is a much better answer.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
Dave is correct. If you are not significantly impacted by equivalent elevation on the plane you should be ok at the same elevation when sitting. However, you will likely feel the impact of less oxygen, as you climb.
 
Last edited:

KiwiBrownz

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Spring (2016)
Camino Frances Spring (2017)
Camino Frances Autumn (2018)
Trying to get my butt in gear and leaving for my first camino in early September. As I've been walking around Cincinnati, OH on very hot days with "air quality" alerts, I've realized just how much it affects my otherwise perfectly controlled asthma. Anyways, I was all set on going Napoleon in two parts but I'm from the Midwestern US.

So, I really have no concept of what the altitude is like...never even been in a particularly high city, I don't think. Has anyone been sensitive to the altitude changes and had trouble breathing? I'll be packing an inhaler and don't expect any issues otherwise. My city is very polluted and I always notice a huge positive difference with air quality in Europe. Just now I'm considering that perhaps I should stick to the Valcarlos route.
Hi Sarah, I am an asthmatic and travel with my daily puff and a reliever, i also take a backpocket of prednisone incase of issues. I have walked two caminos and and about to launch into my third end of August and have not had any asthma issues on the camino. My caution would be beware of ibobrufin as this is a great anti flam/pain reliever but most asthmatics react to it. Use a topical creme for muscles, and I would advise taking 400mg of magnesium each evening great for cramp and muscles. My firend Michelle and I are walking a slow camino and taking the Valcarlos route staying in the albergue there so we may see you in September as we have also planned rest days. Good Luck and Buen Camino from Sarah Brown NZ
 

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