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Old 04-02-2016, 03:29 PM   #1
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Mountain/High Altitude Towing

This summer we are planning on taking an extended trip that will include time in Leadville, Colorado (10.1K elevation), and other western states. I am looking for advice from those who have done mountain and high altitude towing with a similar set to what I have. Using the formula below, I understand that by the time I hit 7000 feet I will have lost 68 hp. Also, I will be will under my max payload.

% HP LOSS = (ALT x 0.03 x 1) / 1000

Tow vehicle: 2008 Silverado 1500, Crew Cab, 5.3 L, Z71, 3.73 gear, Prodigy Brake controller (about 10 years old - can't remember the model number)

Camper: 2016 Freedom Express 231RBDS, 26'10", 5100lbs unloaded, 6100lbs estimated loaded.

My old camper was about 900 lbs less than my current camper. I was surprised how much of a difference that 900 lbs made when going uphill. On the flat I can't tell any difference.


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Old 04-02-2016, 05:48 PM   #2
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You will lose HP at altitude, my old '97 GMC van with a 5.0 engine was a real dog at altitude, but we still made it up every pass we encountered. Fremont Pass, on CO 91 between Copper Mtn. ski area and Leadville isn't a bad one, wide berm to pull off and let folks pass.

Going down, use a lower gear to use engine braking. Use brakes as little as possible, a quick drop of 10 mph speed or so, then foot off the pedal until next time. Too many people use the brake to control speed instead of a lower gear. Pull off and take pictures to give the brakes time to cool down and you can walk around and look for problems.


Bob & Donna
'98 Gulf Stream Sun Voyager DP being pushed by a '00 Beetle TDI
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Old 04-02-2016, 09:27 PM   #3
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Another way to state it is a normally aspitlrated gasoline engine will lose 3% of it's power for every 1,000' of elevation. So at 7,000' it will lose 21% of it's power. Both HP and Torque.

I would say use 1 or 2 lower gears. I think you will be going slow but will make it up the mountain passes.

Good luck
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Old 04-03-2016, 06:53 AM   #4
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Living in Colorado and towing those passes frequently I can tell you you will be fine. Plenty of similar rigs on the road. As the others have said, go slow, especially going down hill and let the engine rev pulling uphill.

Have fun.
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