People traveling for their ski vacations typically come with an eagerness and vision of the perfect vacation, yet they forget about the altitude. Studies have shown that ski resorts above 8,000 feet pose the highest risk to those who are not acclimated to high elevations. Depending on the elevation that you live at, you may not feel the effects. But for those coming in from sea level it is helpful to keep in mind that at 8,000 feet, oxygen is reduced by 25%.
The base of Solitude Mountain Resort is 8,005 feet and the summit is 10,035 feet. With less oxygen in the air to breathe, there is potential for issues larger than shortness of breath, such as headaches, dizziness, loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, insomnia, and the worst case scenario: altitude sickness.
Below are six suggestions to help keep yourself healthy at altitude, so you and your loved ones can fully enjoy your vacation from start to finish!
1. Hydrate, hydrate, and hydrate!
The air is very dry at higher altitudes and your body will feel it. Drink twice as much water as you do at home and you’ll improve your chances of combating the altitude. More info here.
2. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco… at least initially. For many, alcohol has intensified effects at altitude, and it worsens dehydration. Caffeine will have the same dehydrating effects and can also cause nausea.
3. Acclimate yourself to the elevation. Rest and avoid exhausting yourself right away. Let your body become accustomed to the higher elevation by aiming to keep exertion mild to moderate for the first 48 hours. Relax in the hot tub at Club Solitude or play a game of pool at The Thirsty Squirrel.
4. While many people head straight for the heavy meals while out to dinner on vacation, it is very helpful to eat the right foods to keep your body feeling good at altitude. Bananas and other foods, which are rich in potassium, are great options to help your body acclimate to altitude. Complex carbohydrates will stabilize your blood sugar and help maintain energy throughout the day. Steer clear of salt and salty processed food as they can contribute to dehydration.
5. Wear a high SPF sunscreen and re-apply frequently. High altitude sunburns are dreadfully painful and can be dangerous. The air at altitude has less water vapor, which means there is less protection from the sun, and the reflection of the snow intensifies sun burns. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen to the underside of your nose or your lips. Regardless of your complexion, wear sunscreen that has both titanium dioxide and zinc, and re-apply!
6. Wear proper eye protection. I prefer goggles, but some prefer glasses. Regardless, protect your eyes with high a high quality lens. Burned eyes are an awful feeling. (Unfortunately, I am speaking from experience.)
Enjoy your ski vacation and prepare for some rest and relaxation, perhaps spend some time at The Solitude Spa, drink lots of water, eat well and wear your sunscreen. Now that we have all of that out of the way, have some fun on the slopes. See you out there!
Jillian Vogtli – Vogtli is a two-time Olympian and 13-year member of the U.S. Ski Team. She is known for her extensive success in the freestyle skiing events of moguls and dual moguls, as well as being the only woman to perform the Cork 720 during the Olympic Games.