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Breckenridge Altitude

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 

Hi Everyone,

 

I know Breckenridge is high but, generaly speaking, is the altitude there, mostly on the lower peaks, a problem?  I'm 63 and an avid skier.  Skied alot at Park City without altitude problems and other places in Utah, which I know is lower by about 1,000 feet, and Sun Valley which is also much lower, but I'm wondering if anyone has some thoughts about Breck.  I will be there in Feb. (2013) with my son and don't want to be gasping for air!  I know all the rules about altitude sickness. Alternatively, we could go to Vail, a bit lower in altitude, but it's also more expensive and a little further from Denver.  Thanks for the advice about Breck!

 

Michael

NYC

post #2 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Michaelfahlund View Post

I know Breckenridge is high but, generaly speaking, is the altitude there, mostly on the lower peaks, a problem?

 

Generally speaking?  No.  Breck's visitation numbers prove that pretty conclusively I'd say.  But that doesn't do you any good at all if you're one of those people that does have a problem with the altitude.

 

You mention both... are you more worried about altitude sickness or more worried about being in good enough cardiovascular shape for that atitude?

 

It is worth noting that Breck is noticeably higher than Park City.  The lifts at PC top out at 10k feet, and the *town* of Breck is at 9600, with lifts topping out at just under 13k.

post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jaobrien6 View Post

 

Generally speaking?  No.  Breck's visitation numbers prove that pretty conclusively I'd say.  But that doesn't do you any good at all if you're one of those people that does have a problem with the altitude.

 

You mention both... are you more worried about altitude sickness or more worried about being in good enough cardiovascular shape for that atitude?

 

It is worth noting that Breck is noticeably higher than Park City.  The lifts at PC top out at 10k feet, and the *town* of Breck is at 9600, with lifts topping out at just under 13k.

Actually, now that you mention it....what's the best way to prepare cardio-vascularly?

post #4 of 21

I basically live at sea level, but I take a trip to Summit County pretty much every year.  The first day out there, I get tired walking across the parking lot and I just take it easy in terms of skiing -- i.e., forget riding the T-bar and the other "bowl oriented" lifts.  By the second day, I usually feel pretty good.

 

I am in decent shape; I do a lot of cycling and hiking throughout the year, along with skiing here in New England.  I don't do anything "specific" for skiing; just generally stay in shape.

 

There was another post recently voicing concerns about altitude sickness where a good point was raised.  Drinking alcohol dehydrates you.  High altitude air is generally very dry and dehydrates you quickly as well.  Dehydration feels a lot like minor altitude sickness.  Which basically means "lay off the beer and drink a lot of water".

post #5 of 21

Sleeping over  2500 ft. higher in Breck, can be a problem for many people?

post #6 of 21

I used to stay in Summit County every year for quite a few years. I now generally stay in Park City. Huge difference. In Summit Co., it wasn't so much the sking as the sleeping. Headachy and a general feeling of not being 100%. One thing that helped me at night was to drink a ton of water. You end up peeing all night, but it's better than a headache. i heard someone once say that if you can sleep at 8K or below, it's way easier. That has been my experience.  

post #7 of 21

Altitude Sickness is my bread and butter, as a DME provider, I help a lot of ski vacationers and I'm well versed in navigating insurance reimbursement for Oxygen.

 

The short answer is it depends where you plan on sleeping.

 

At higher elevations sleep comes more difficultly, and Acute Mountain Sickness is easier to get.

 

If you're planning on a Frisco stay you will be much better off.

 

If a Breckie condo is in your plans, by all means see your doctor and talk about AMS and Oxygen treatment. 

 

If you have proof of medical necessity(SPO2% 88% or less), you should be able to bill your insurance company, otherwise an Rx for Oxygen will get you a machine to sleep with that does mitigate the effects of altitude.  You might find that sleep actually brings rest with Oxygen, and generally you will be fine during the day. 

 

Alternatively, a hyperbaric chamber helps too.

 

I find the biggest demograph for my services is the indestructibles(in-shape male 25-40) otherwise AMS is completely random.  I do find less clients who are out of shape and overweight.  I think general unfitness leads to heavy breathing that keeps one's SPO2% in a reasonable range. 

 

Diamox taken two days prior to arrival seems to help.  you can also plan on avoiding first day alcohol and rich meals, those require a lot of Oxygen to digest.  And drink a lot of water frequently, pee clear and you will feel better.

post #8 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttinski View Post

Altitude Sickness is my bread and butter, as a DME provider, I help a lot of ski vacationers and I'm well versed in navigating insurance reimbursement for Oxygen.

 

The short answer is it depends where you plan on sleeping.

 

At higher elevations sleep comes more difficultly, and Acute Mountain Sickness is easier to get.

 

If you're planning on a Frisco stay you will be much better off.

 

If a Breckie condo is in your plans, by all means see your doctor and talk about AMS and Oxygen treatment. 

 

If you have proof of medical necessity(SPO2% 88% or less), you should be able to bill your insurance company, otherwise an Rx for Oxygen will get you a machine to sleep with that does mitigate the effects of altitude.  You might find that sleep actually brings rest with Oxygen, and generally you will be fine during the day. 

 

Alternatively, a hyperbaric chamber helps too.

 

I find the biggest demograph for my services is the indestructibles(in-shape male 25-40) otherwise AMS is completely random.  I do find less clients who are out of shape and overweight.  I think general unfitness leads to heavy breathing that keeps one's SPO2% in a reasonable range. 

 

Diamox taken two days prior to arrival seems to help.  you can also plan on avoiding first day alcohol and rich meals, those require a lot of Oxygen to digest.  And drink a lot of water frequently, pee clear and you will feel better.

I find it hard to believe that the difference in elevation between Frisco and Breck makes much difference...

 

Mike

post #9 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

I find it hard to believe that the difference in elevation between Frisco and Breck makes much difference...

 

Mike

that was my thought initially also, but there might be an 800 or 900 difference between Frisco and staying at the base of 7 or 8.  If staying in town, the difference is only about 500 feet.

 

I did have a friend come out last year who had no problems previously while staying in Vail and had to take a sled on the mountain the first day in Vail after sleeping in Frisco.  Of course, the reason he stayed that night in Frisco is because we hit lady`s night at Johnny Gs.

post #10 of 21

Every time I have been to Breck with a group, 1 or 2 people ended up at the clinic for oxygen and fluids. It was always a combo of dehydration plus altitude sickness. They missed 1-2 days of skiing.

 

I always have trouble sleeping due to altitude and time change. Taking melatonin helps me sleep well.

 

I take aspirin the day before I leave for the trip and for a couple days into it.

 

I drink water constantly and keep bottled water at bedside, drinking if I wake up. Staying hydrated helps the most for sure.

post #11 of 21
If you have had visits over the years at higher altitude, I wouldn't worry too much. There is nothing you can do to speed acclimatization, but if you acclimatize well to 8k then 9k isn't a worrisome threshold.
post #12 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

I find it hard to believe that the difference in elevation between Frisco and Breck makes much difference...

 

It does if you have issues with altitude.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MEfree30 View Post

that was my thought initially also, but there might be an 800 or 900 difference between Frisco and staying at the base of 7 or 8.  If staying in town, the difference is only about 500 feet.

 

This is a very valid point.  Staying in Town  (Breckenridge) vs some of the Tyra units near the Snowflake Lift  or the timeshares at the base of Peak 7 can be a difference of several hundred feet elevation.  It wouldn't surprise me if some of those units are close to 10,000 feet in elevation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NayBreak View Post

If you have had visits over the years at higher altitude, I wouldn't worry too much. There is nothing you can do to speed acclimatization, but if you acclimatize well to 8k then 9k isn't a worrisome threshold.

I thought so too.  After living on Baldy across from Breckenridge (at about 10,500') seasonally for a few years after visiting for a few years before for a few weeks each Spring AND making trips for a few weeks each season after living there (time frame.....1976-1995)  I suddenly came down with a severe case of HAPE while staying in Breck.  I am pretty sure I still have the record low Oxy count for anyone that walked into the Clinic in Frisco.............36.  They thought the first machine was broken, but the second machine came up with the same number and the Oxygen mask quickly hit my face.  I still go to Breckenridge every season and have been fine since, but am VERY careful in planning my stay.

 

Here are some facts and observations.  There seems to be a threshold of 7500 ft.  Below that elevation altitude sickness (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) is not impossible but improbable to effect you. Past 7500 feet it depends on you.  Physical Condition, Age, diet and ability to adjust to altitude changes are all factors.

 

If you fly into Denver, it helps to stay at that elevation for several hours or over night to begin the adjustment before heading to the high country. Drink plenty of Water and avoid alcohol or anything else that thins the blood stream. Caffeine doesn't help either. You are at the most risk when you sleep.

 

I notice a big difference in my physical condition staying at the base of Peak 9 (9600') vs staying in Dillon (9100') which is about the same elevation as Frisco (9075).  I have some spinal damage from a car accident in '86 that still effects me on a daily basis. While not related to classic altitude sickness, my body reacts negatively at altitude. (MEfree30.......do you remember the day at Vail   skiing with Faisal and you where I almost couldn't ski down ?)  Staying in Breckenridge by day two I have (at best) a low grade headache no matter what I do.  That is rare when I stay in Dillon, and I am fine when I stay in Vail (around 8120').

 

So, the key is in preparation and your ability to cope when it comes to altitude.

post #13 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

I find it hard to believe that the difference in elevation between Frisco and Breck makes much difference...

 

Mike

 

Yeah, it does. My niece and nephew were preemie twins, born in Denver, spent 3 weeks in NICU there.  I don't remember exactly how long they were on supplemental oxygen once they got back to home in Breckenridge, but they wouldn't have needed it if they'd been living in Frisco. I remember thinking that was interesting.

 

I know a lot of people have trouble sleeping around the 10K level. It seems to be a fairly common threshold. So, yes, those areas all surrounding Breck are up there. We looked at a house on Baldy when we were real estate shopping .. the owners were selling because some family members couldn't sleep in it. My brother lived in Blue River, said he wouldn't live quite that high again because it was too tough on visitors.

post #14 of 21
Ok, I'm now better informed!
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 

And, Denver has a snow dusting today!!!  Right, segbrown ?   smile.gif

post #16 of 21

My first time skiing as adult was at Breck, I was 46 at the time, I got sick as a dog there. I have skied Steamboat, Cressted Buttee, Santa Fe since then and have never had a problem.

Good luck !

post #17 of 21

I am 66 and a spend 3 weeks in Summit County every winter.  While everyone is different, I find it takes me 2-3 days to get used to the altitude.  As has been noted, stay off the booze, drink lots of water, and take it easy.  If I feel a headache coming on, I take something.  If you avoid the upper lifts, you won't be much higher than Alta or Snowbird.   

post #18 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by habacomike View Post

I find it hard to believe that the difference in elevation between Frisco and Breck makes much difference...

Mike

I have a friend who is addressing his wife's altitude issues with poor oxygen saturation by moving from 10500 feet at Blue River to the area between Breck and Farmer's Corner. They did a bunch of tests and found the thousand foot drop to their new house made all the difference.
post #19 of 21
I came west from 660 feet above sea level in Michigan every spring for nearly 30 years and never had much of a problem with altitude. About 10 years ago, when I was the OP's age, I went to Salt Lake and skied at Brighton. I had terrible shortness of breath and severe headaches while on the mountain and did somewhat better at night back in Salt Lake, but never was really comfortable.

So I looked here, took some info off this website to my internist in Michigan and the next couple years came west in the spring using Diamox. I'd take it for about three days prior to the trip and a day or two after arrival at high altitude. It helped a lot.

Our first visit to Breck, the highest place I'd skied since the 1970s, diamox made it pleasant until I got to Whale's Tail (just under 13000). When I came here to work in 2008, we were spending the winters and returning to Michigan for the summers, and we used Diamox each return. Since being here year around, I have minimal trouble returning from lower altitudes if I've not been gone for more than three weeks or so.

To the OP: I'd find lodging in Frisco/Dillon so you can sleep at lower altitudes. Getting sufficient rest in important.

When I got run down last year and ended up needing my tibia plateau screwed back together, the surgeon required a general physician's release, which I found out I couldn't get because an EKG showed too many heart abnormalities. So I had to see a cardiologist, who informed me my pulmonary artery pressure was 60, twice the normal maximum. After surgery, I was sent home with an oxygen concentrator and subsequently learned that I need to use that when sleeping, so I bought one. They also can be rented. My pulmonary artery pressure now is almost down to the normal maximum.
post #20 of 21
Quote:
If you have had visits over the years at higher altitude, I wouldn't worry too much. There is nothing you can do to speed acclimatization, but if you acclimatize well to 8k then 9k isn't a worrisome threshold.

As noted above the sleep altitude is what matters.  Altitude sensitivity is more one's individual physiology more than conditioning.  By my observation only a very few people are that uncomfortable sleeping at 8,000 but a significant minority are uncomfortable at 9,000+.   If you find out that you are one of those people, Diamox will speed the acclimitization process some, as noted by Kneale Brownson above.. 

 

Al Gore thinks Obama is one of those very sensitive people...ROTF.gif

http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05election/2012/10/05/al-gore-denver%E2%80%99s-altitude-responsible-for-obama%E2%80%99s-weak-debate/

 

Quote:
If you fly into Denver, it helps to stay at that elevation for several hours or over night to begin the adjustment before heading to the high country.

This is the reality.  Spending an overnight at 5,000 will ease anyone's acclimitization.  But for most of us we can go up to a resort right away and exercise some common sense the first 2-3 days:  Drink lots of water, ease into the alcohol gradually, don't do big hikes above the lifts at 12,000+ early in your week.

post #21 of 21

I've lived at 7000'-7500' ft for over 20 years and regularly skied at 10,000 - 12,000' (Ski Santa Fe, Wolf Creek, Taos) the whole time.  When I went to Breck a few years ago we stayed at 9000+' and I could not sleep for anything.  I felt fine otherwise, well considering the sleep deprivation anyway, and felt good skiing and skied well but sleep just wouldn't happen.

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