• Women skiers, this is the place for you -- an online community without the male-orientation you'll find in conventional ski magazines and internet ski forums. At TheSkiDiva.com, you can connect with other women to talk about skiing in a way that you can relate to, about things that you find of interest. Be sure to join our community to participate (women only, please!). Registration is fast and simple. Just be sure to add [email protected] to your address book so your registration activation emails won't be routed as spam. And please give careful consideration to your user name -- it will not be changed once your registration is confirmed.

Adjusting to high altitude, over 6000 ft

marzNC

Angel Diva
:bump: for the 2017-18 season

Unfortunately the EpicSki article linked in Post #1 isn't easily available any more. But I copied a few key points into this thread.

Good basics in the Diva thread from 2008 for people who have never slept at over 5000 ft and plan to ski at over 7000 ft.

https://www.theskidiva.com/forums/index.php?threads/coping-with-altitude-and-long-runs.2711/

If the logistics are reasonable, I sometimes sleep at a lower altitude the first night or two. For instance, could stay in Albuquerque for a night before heading to Taos. Or even stay in the town of Taos to start with before moving to Taos Ski Valley, which is almost 2000 ft higher. Some people stay on the west side of Denver for a night before driving to a ski destination in Colorado.
 

MelRene

Certified Ski Diva
I live at 5800 ft in Montrose, CO and still sometimes feel altitude skiing at Copper or Monarch. I just have to remember to drink a ton of water and I occasionally take anti-nausea pills for the dizziness/lightheadedness.
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I drink TONS of water before I go and while I'm there. I'm also taking Ginko, supposed to help increase oxygen in your blood. we'll see. sleeping with a humidifier helps a lot, and no drinking alcohol.
 

GoingDownhillWeeeee!

Certified Ski Diva
If someone is feeling sick and nauseous because of altitude, Coke can help. Something about the water, sugar, syrup, carbonation and caffeine combined. Other sodas might help as well but original (non-diet) Coke is specifically recommended.
 

EAVL

Certified Ski Diva
I know this is an older discussion but thought I would throw in my two cents. I live in CO on the front range and we ski every weekend and stay at 9600 feet. I usually have no issues but have had times when I feel like I am not breathing at night and my heart is racing. I have ended up in the ED here too thinking something was wrong with my heart after almost passing out during the night when I got up to get my daughter some Motrin for a sore throat. Then my heart just kept racing. Also, my husband and I spent a week in Telluride for our anniversary one summer and my head felt like it was going to explode the firt few days. I almost went to an oxygen bar to see if that would help and I was queasy all the time. A local person there told me I needed ibuprofen and caffeine and lots of water. I kept it up and finally had that one cup of coffee that worked and then I felt great and was able to hike with no issues. Last summer we backpacked at 11,000 ft in WY and I couldn’t sleep (I never sleep well camping anyway because I get cold and uncomfortable on the ground) with my heart racing. Drank half a Nalgene bottle and felt better.

So what I have learned from these experiences is I need WATER! My bad days up here seem to happen when I haven’t been good about taking in water so now I really make sure I am drinking at least 2L a day starting two days before I leave and I keep it up the whole time I am here. Ibuprofen at night also helps me not wake up with a headache. I do find caffeine helpful but have to watch the amount otherwise I lose too much water and it makes my heart race.
It feels like a fine balancing act.

My sister lives at sea level and she always needs a day or two at our house at 4800 feet before we get her into the mountains. I also wanted to bring my 83 year old mother here with my sister this Christmas but she couldn’t handle going to Taos NM this past fall and it is like 7.000 or 8,000 feet. I don’t think she could handle it here. My poor dad always wanted to come but his pulmonologist said he shouldn’t. My husband wants to retire up here but it makes me worry about our ability to adjust when we are older. A friend of mine grew up in Leadville (11,000 feet) and her dad won’t go down in elevation ever because he fears he will de-acclimate!

As for iron, I think it would make a difference. There was a time when I was anemic and I would start feeling like my head was being squeezed, very sleepy and my heart would race and skip beats just on the drive up the mountains. I had taken my BIL from TX to Rocky Mtn National Park and he wanted to drive to the top of Trail Ridge Rd and I had to let him take the car while I sat by the river at a lower elevation. Since my iron levels have been straightened out I adjust much better.

So drink that water and get your iron level checked. An MD friend of mine says ibuprofen helps too and I wonder if it is the same theory as aspirin - the blood thinning. Not sure. Happy traveling and skiing!!
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm out west now. I drink LOTS of water before and while at altitude (a must I think)
New this year I started taking Ginko a week before coming out here 1000mg/day and taking it here. The ginko is supposed to increase oxygen in your blood.
I also take aspirin for my old knees.

I'm in Sun Valley 9200ft on top. Yesterday first day, I felt great. I even had a beer last night (Usually I drink no alcohol) I feel Great.

Water is essential!
Maybe this will help others!
If you are on other meds-always check w/Dr before taking herbals
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm out west now. I drink LOTS of water before and while at altitude (a must I think)
New this year I started taking Ginko a week before coming out here 1000mg/day and taking it here. The ginko is supposed to increase oxygen in your blood.
I also take aspirin for my old knees.

I'm in Sun Valley 9200ft on top. Yesterday first day, I felt great. I even had a beer last night (Usually I drink no alcohol) I feel Great.

Water is essential!
Maybe this will help others!
If you are on other meds-always check w/Dr before taking herbals

MISTAKE>. the Ginkgo is 60mg I take 2-4 a day.. NOT 1000MG
 

mustski

Angel Diva
For those coming to Mammoth this year for Diva West, this is something to think about. Mammoth base elevations range from 7900 feet (Eagle Lodge/Juniper Springs Area) to 8000 feet (Canyon Lodge/Village area) to 8900 (Main Lodge Area).
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Came across a recent article that helps explain why altitude adjustment is so variable. I've known that even for an individual flatlander, the reaction to high altitude (over 6000 ft) can vary between trips. Hadn't heard before that genetics plays a greater role than fitness or age. The info about the hypoxia inducible factor and the hormone EPO was also new to me.

Sept. 5, 2019 - Summit Daily
Pushing the limit: Understanding the body’s performance at high elevation
" . . .
Acclimatization

Those seeking a high elevation panacea that will allow them to quickly acclimatize are out of luck — the human body just doesn’t work that way. Dr. Benjamin Honigman, director emeritus of the Altitude Research Center based out of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, said that should not be the goal for people traveling to high altitude.

“I don’t think quicker is the idea. Safely is a better way to put it,” Honigman said. “The body takes some time to adjust. Trying to speed the process along is one of the factors predisposed to making people sicker. If you’re trying to focus on speed of acclimation, we don’t have ability to do that yet.”

Honigman said there are medications that can lessen the effects of altitude sickness. One such medication is acetazolamide, which is better known under the brand name Diamox. Honigman said medications can decrease the incidences of getting sick from as high as 30% to 5-8%.

As far as the most readily available remedies for altitude sickness — like those bottles of oxygen you can buy at mountain gas stations — they’re more or less useless.

“Those oxygen canisters might make people feel better for three or four minutes, but once off it, you’re back at altitude, so there’s no real utilization for them,” Honigman said.


The oxygen saturation level at which the body starts trying to compensate depends on a person’s hypoxia inducible factor, which varies by individual and is determined mostly by genetics.
. . ."
 

marzNC

Angel Diva
Our cabin is at aout 6900' so we are used to that. We go almost every weekend all winter and regularly during the summer. Even when we go higher, I don't notice it until I get above 9000'. DH is another matter. He always feels it a bit, even at our cabin. He takes excedrin migraine for the headaches and I push water down his throat. The only time I spent the night above 8000 was in Colorado, camping at Rocky Mountain National Park. I slept ok, but I didn't even have the energy for long walks never mind hiking. It took me 2 days to acclimate.
Re-reading the earlier posts reminded me of a study done a few years ago that was trying to see how long the changes required to adapt to high altitude usually last. Managed to find one article about the basic findings. A group of volunteers spent two weeks at over 15,000 ft, then left the mountain for 1-2 weeks, and returned for another short period. A factor related to why the adaptation can last for a few months is that red blood cells survive for about 120 days.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/10/two-weeks-mountains-can-change-your-blood-months

Last winter I spent 10 days in NM for a trip to Taos, went home for a week, and then back to Taos. Slept at 5000 ft in Albuquerque, then 7000 ft in Taos before moving to TSV at 9000 ft for a week. For the second trip I stayed at 7000 ft in town the first couple nights. I noticed I had less symptoms related to high altitude, in particular I slept well by the second night. Usually takes until the third or fourth night before I sleep as I usually do at home.
 

floridakeysskibum

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thanks for this article...my girlfriend who lives near me at sealevel visited the rocky mts this summer and hiked quite a bit...she also tried ginkgo Bilbao in the past with headaches still an issue, this summer she tried the diamond and had great success with it...I will try it for next ski season :smile:
 

sibhusky

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
When I used to live at sea level and go skiing in Colorado I was in sad to really bad shape if I landed and drove up to the mountains that day. I learned to stay in Denver and go up the following day after a few years. I don't know now if I would need to do that, living at 3700 feet. Only if I went to Copper, I think. All winter I'm going from 3700 to 6800 five days a week. I do get 15% more migraines if I go to Denver, though, even if I drive there. Which is kind of weird because Denver is lower than our summit. ... Maybe it's just Denver itself....
 

Jenny

Angel Diva
Pollution plus altitude? I know I get headaches in Denver and don’t in other places of similar elevation. It's weird.

Finally figured out for me it works to take ibuprofen/Excedrin when I get on the plane, when I get to Denver, and throughout the next 24 hours or so.
 

mustski

Angel Diva
I don't know now if I would need to do that, living at 3700 feet. Only if I went to Copper, I think. All winter I'm going from 3700 to 6800 five days a week. ....

We moved to our cabin for a year and have been living at 6900 feet. Snowmass still flattened me last year. We stayed on the mountain and the base elevation isn’t that much more (8100), but the peak at 12,000 is a different story. I definitely felt stairs were a challenge and didn’t even consider hiking to ski slingshot. I just didn’t have it in me. What’s strange, though, is I don’t notice the difference in altitude when we go to Mammoth - base at 9000 and peak at 11,000.
 

SierraLuLu

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I get high altitude asthma. I don’t get migraines or any of the other symptoms mentioned here. I usually visit Mammoth (peak ~10,000 ft town ~7,800 ft), with a night of sleep or less from my home in LA (sea level). I always bring my inhaler onto the mountain and puff in the parking lot and then again usually at the top of my first big lift. That seems to do the trick. Sometimes I have to puff once or twice more throughout the day.

I thought my asthma was from the cold until I tried skiing out East at lower elevations and didn’t have any symptoms. Back home, my asthma is pretty mild.

Does anyone else have asthma? How does altitude affect you?
 

COcanuck

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Living and skiing close to Aspen, I have treated many visitors and locals alike for symptoms of high elevation. My biggest piece of advice as a physician is to visit your doctor and discuss any upcoming trip to higher elevations so they can work in conjunction with you and your personal medical conditions to see if Diamox would be appropriate. I agree with many of the above general recommendations, avoid alcohol, stay hydrated, no smoking, sleep low and take your time heading up to elevation. Unfortunately, I've seen many people who only have a short period of time on vacation and they want to try and "make the most of it", only winding up in an urgent care/clinic or emergency department the first or second day of their trip because of Mountain Sickness which could have been potentially avoided by working with their doctor.

@SierraLuLu for sure asthma can sometimes be triggered by the cold but since you have skied in the cold weather at lower elevations and not had symptoms, then it is likely the elevation causing your symptoms. The lower oxygen concentration at higher elevations automatically triggers hyperventilation to compensate (we breathe faster to get more O2) and in asthmatics this can be problematic because you have a harder time exhaling (obstructive lung defect). Taking your bronchodilator prior to exercise at high altitude would automatically help this, kind of like what people do for exercise-induced asthma.
 

SierraLuLu

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Thanks for the input!

Taking your bronchodilator prior to exercise at high altitude would automatically help this, kind of like what people do for exercise-induced asthma.

Yep yep! I’ve learned to take it once before skiing and then once again at the top of the first lift, which triggers a lot of “are you ok?”’s from passerby. By the second day I never have any issues.
 

Christy

Angel Diva
I guess this falls in the "we're getting older" category.

Neither my husband or I have ever been particularly bothered by altitude. Sun Valley (where we are sleeping at 6000' and skiing at 6-9000') has never been a problem. Maybe a little sleeplessness the first night. My husband has had more and more motion sickness and even nausea while skiing in recent years. The nausea while on the hill was not good this trip. He didn't feel okay until day 4. We think it must be altitude related. I woke up so many times each night too. I suggested he not ski the first day next time and the suggestion kills him--he is a bell to bell kind of guy--but he admitted it might be the only way to go. Maybe I'll get him to nordic ski with me. I've been reading up on Gingko--it looks like there are some studies at least that show benefits with altitude.
 

nopoleskier

Ski Diva Extraordinaire
I'm prepping for my trip to SLC now. Eating 120mg ginkgo every day and ramping up water intake. So far ginkgo has helped me. I can even have drinks! Chlorophyll is another herbal along with beet root powder that are supposed to help.
 

Forum statistics

Threads
26,121
Messages
495,065
Members
8,412
Latest member
78Diane
Top