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Old 06-18-2014, 09:02 AM   #1
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High Altitude Driving

Has anyone driven a rig from Grand Junction to Salida, CO, on hwy 50? I'm concerned about Monarch Pass 11,300ish feet. How steep is the climb? and should I be aware of anything regarding driving in a high altitude like that? My rig is a Monaco Knight 315 Cummins ISC. Thanks

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Old 06-18-2014, 09:14 AM   #2
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Not a big problem. Have covered it almost every year for last 7. Slow going due to curves, but just remember to gear down on the down side. Do not get in a hurry and enjoy the view. I pull a Chev. tracker behind my F53 V10 and take my time. You do not realize the altitude unless you get out and walk around. Have fun and enjoy the pass. Roger

2001 Bounder 36S Ford F53, 2000 Tracker 2 door toad, 2 kids Jake & Toby (4 legs)
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:17 AM   #3
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You should also gear down on the climb to keep your rpm's up to prevent overheating, especially if you have a 2 stage hydraulic cloth fan.
Johnny Rotten
2009 American Eagle 42'
Trailering HD Road Glide and Saab 9.3 or Cadillac Escalade ESV
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:09 AM   #4
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Just pay more attention to RPMs and temperature gauge than speedometer. Downshift to keep engine in maximum torque range and prevent 'lugging.' Going down, downshift and use engine brake if equipped. Use brakes only to quickly drop speed by 10 mph or more then take foot off the treadle. After a number of firm braking cycles, look for a pull off, get out and enjoy the scenery for a few minutes to allow brakes to cool.

Driving in mountains or hills just requires a bit of a few different behaviors than flatland driving.

Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:10 PM   #5
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for modern diesel engines with electronic fuel injection systems, high altitude is no longer a concern. you may notice a slight drop in power and additional smoke if you let it get bogged down. Your lungs will notice the 11,300 elevation more than your engine.
the steeper sections are 7% grade which is typical for most of the major Colorado passes. Highway 50 up Monarch pass is all good roadway and has plenty of lanes to allow you to keep to the right and others to pass.
The only part to be concerned with is the long downhill grade. using your transmission & engine brake to control your downhill speed will avoid burning up your manual brakes.
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:11 PM   #6
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I see you're from Bisbee, at 5500 ft, so you're pretty well acclimated. 11,300 won't bother you if your lungs are in reasonably good shape and you're just driving through.

For any sea-level folks reading this I would caution not to dawdle very
long checking the scenic views from the summit. At our age (most of us), about half an hour at that 10-11000 ft range is about all I'd consider prudent.
John & Diane, Fulltimers. RVM103 NHSO
On the road since June '12 with Lincoln, the guard cat.
2002 Dutch Star 40, Freightliner, Cat 3126, 2004 Element
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Old 06-19-2014, 12:56 PM   #7
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As stated by others, keep your rev's up while climbing, just downshift until you are in the 2,000 RPM range. Do worry about being in a hurry, enjoy the scenery your engine will pull the hill. Whatever gear you climbed in use for the downhill and stay on your engine brake. If you need the regular brakes just apply firmly to slow the pace and get off of them. Do not ride your brake pedal or you will overheat your brakes. You won't have any issue.

It's a beautiful ride. If you have extra time you may consider a side stop at Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nat'l Park, its right off of Hwy 50 and you can drive up to some great vantage points without having to do any strenuous hiking.

Happy trails.
Glenn & Mary
2000 Monaco Dynasty 34 York / 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee Diesel
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Old 06-19-2014, 08:07 PM   #8
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Cummins diesel engines all have turbo chargers which means the horse power is the same to 10.000 feet. On gas engines with no turbo you loss 3% power for every 1.000 feet. 300 HP at 10.000 feet and no turbo is 210 HP.

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