If you’re skiing out West this winter, you’re going to be experiencing elevation ranging from 6,000 to 12,000 feet. How high you ski in the mountain can depend on your ability level, but many resorts offer high-alpine blues and greens. At higher elevations, there is less oxygen and less humidity than at sea level, which can cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms for low-landers if not properly addressed. To help you acclimate smoothly to the high altitude and enjoy every minute of your ski vacation, we compiled a list of tips.
1. Don’t over do it off the bat
Physical exertion will affect your response to altitude. So take it easy on the first day at a higher elevation.
2. Eat light and drink plenty of liquids
By liquids, we mean the non-alcoholic kind. Alcohol consumption, especially in excess, compounds high-altitude symptoms. The higher elevation’s reduced humidity and air can lead to dehydration, so it’s important that lots of water is consumed. Also, overeating at altitude can lead to digestive issues.
2. Get plenty of sleep
The reduced oxygen is already doing its part to tire you out, so make sure you get your fair share of sleep throughout your ski vacation. Overexertion combined with lack of sleep can result in more severe and persistent altitude symptoms.
3. Wear sunscreen
At high altitude, the sun in the winter is still incredibly strong. This is due to the fact that there is less atmosphere to filter out the ultraviolet rays. This is why wearing sunscreen, with at least an SPF 15, and reapplying frequently is imperative during your ski vacation. Your eyes can burn, too, so always wear sunglasses or goggles with adequate UV protection. Don’t be fooled on a cloudy day—you can still get burned at high altitude.
4. Prevent injuries related to high altitude
At high altitude, less oxygen impacts your muscle performance, meaning they tire more quickly. Take extra precautions before skiing to reduce injury, like checking your equipment, ski in accordance to your physical ability, learn your way around the mountain, stretch in the morning, be aware of snow conditions and avoid alcoholic drinks at lunchtime.
5. Listen to your body
If you experience fatigue, dehydration or any other symptoms typical of altitude sickness, it’s a warning sign that you need to decrease your activity and protect yourself. If symptoms persistent, contact a local physician or visit the emergency room.
If you have additional questions about high altitude contact one of our knowledgeable Mountain Travel Experts. They’re standing by for your call, email or chat!
Originally from the icy trails of New Jersey, I moved West to pursue powder and a career in writing and editing. Now in Aspen, Colo. and working for Ski.com managing the website and blog content, I couldn't be happier. You'll find me skiing at Aspen Mountain or Aspen Highlands in the winter and mountain biking at Snowmass in the summer.