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Altitude sickness

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I am a sometimes skier that FINALLY got to ski out west a few weeks ago. We did Breck on a Sunday evening through Saturday morning. The first few days sucked beyond sucking in regards to feeling the altitude. By the end of the week I was just slightly nauseous throughout the day and my appetite was not what it normally is. Funny enough though skiing from Peak9 on down I felt great. I finally did blue runs with zero issues and thoroughly enjoyed my skiing. 

I read everything I could get my hands on regarding altitude sickness, ginko biloba, water, Dr. prescibed pills.

 

My question though is this, in your humble opinion is there a cut off for altitude sickness once you have gotten it? I realize we stayed at and skied at a high elevation at Breck but I am wondering if staying at 6k and skiing up from there will be an issue since I already got it once. 

Just suck it up and pound the pills before hand? Experiment? I may be getting a birthday bonus trip near the end of February so I would like to take full advantage of it. 

post #2 of 13

Since you said you read everything you could find, I'll assume you read everything here already. That said, all of this is a repeat.

 

Everyone reacts differently to altitude. You react how you react, fitness has nothing to do with it. It is not hereditary in the sense that just because your parents/kids are not susceptible does NOT mean that you won't be. The altitude at which you sleep definitely matters. You might have terrible symptoms in the evening/night, but go no problem all day. Your problem might be a simple annoyance, but you could be one for whom it could be life threatening.

 

All this is to say that you need to learn what your body needs. I've suffered all my life. Two things have had a dramatic effect on my suffering; Diamox, and moving to altitude. Diamox, despite its annoying side effects, solves all of my problems. Moving to Denver reduced my susceptibility to a very manageable level. I write this sitting in the airport at sea level in Portland. I will be driving straight from DIA to Breck and I will NEED to take my Diamox tonight or I will get almost no sleep. Just three nights at sea level will do that to me. A week in Denver and I wouldn't need to take my drugs.

 

My recommendation is to try the thing you believe MOST likely to solve your problem. Over time you could experiment with more desirable alternatives and narrow in on your best answer.

 

IMHO

 

Good luck!

post #3 of 13

There are excellent ski areas at lower altitudes.  Check them out for future trips.  Colorado's ski mountains deserve their fame, but look at others.  Some of the Utah resorts go up to 10,000, as does Jackson Hole, while some of the Colorado places start at 10,000.  Whistler has a lot of excellent skiing below 6,000, with a peak of 8,000.  Whitefish Mt., Montana, has a peak of 6,800.

post #4 of 13

Utah snow is still # 1,keep that in mind.

post #5 of 13
For me it takes either a few days of acclimatization or Diamox. I learned about Diamox while getting ready for a trip to Macchu Piccu. Now I swear by it.
post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by imatlas View Post

For me it takes either a few days of acclimatization or Diamox. I learned about Diamox while getting ready for a trip to Macchu Piccu. Now I swear by it.


For a 1-week ski trip, when would you take Diamox?  Before you leave?  How many days during the trip?

 

I'm asking out of general curiosity.  So far, I do fine after 2-3 days for the places I ski the most out west.  Usually I'm sleeping at 5000-8000 ft.  For skiing in Colorado at over 10,000 ft, it takes almost a week sleeping at over 7000 ft before I have my normal level of endurance.  Have heard that somewhere around 9000 ft is where sleeping and getting adjusted can be very difficult for some people.  That can be an issue for people like the OP who are staying at Breck.

post #7 of 13
I start to be impacted by altitude around 7k. I seem to be especially susceptible to mild AS - headaches, insomnia, lack of appetite. In CA, where we ski around 8-10k and sleep around 7k, I take one at bedtime the first couple of nights when I'm at altitude. For higher altitudes, like visiting CO or my trip to Peru, I take 2 the day before I reach altitude, then one per night while I'm there.

That per my rX, btw.
post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by imatlas View Post

For me it takes either a few days of acclimatization or Diamox. I learned about Diamox while getting ready for a trip to Macchu Piccu. Now I swear by it.


For a 1-week ski trip, when would you take Diamox?  Before you leave?  How many days during the trip?

 

I'm asking out of general curiosity.  So far, I do fine after 2-3 days for the places I ski the most out west.  Usually I'm sleeping at 5000-8000 ft.  For skiing in Colorado at over 10,000 ft, it takes almost a week sleeping at over 7000 ft before I have my normal level of endurance.  Have heard that somewhere around 9000 ft is where sleeping and getting adjusted can be very difficult for some people.  That can be an issue for people like the OP who are staying at Breck.


You want to start the day before your flight, as the flight itself already gets you to about 8K altitude (aircraft pressurization). You keep taking it as prescribed. For me it was 3 or 4 times daily. Before I moved to Denver I was noticeably effected staying in SLC at about 4500', to the point where sleep is a little hard. Really bad in Summit County.

post #9 of 13

Personally, I have never been very prone to it, but my wife can tell a huge difference from Breck and Steamboat... one of the biggest reasons we started going there instead. Steamboat's base is at 6900 ft. and it isn't a harsh adjustment for east coasters like us to adjust to at all. Just drink as much water as you can, and if you can spend your first night at an intermediary point that is helpful if you have issues with elevation.

post #10 of 13
When I lived at sea level, I found I had to overnight in Denver or I was MISERABLE. Even staying in Denver didn't entirely fix the exhaustion, but it did relieve the worst migraines, which meant I could at least ski. It usually took about 2-3 days to acclimate, then I was fine. Now that I live at 3600 feet and ski 5 days a week at 6800 feet, I think I'd do better at most, not all, of the areas.

Certainly an argument for considering other regions.
post #11 of 13
The prescribed regimen for Diamox is to start taking as directed three days before leaving your normal altitude and continue taking three or four days after.

When I was wintering in Summit County and returning to 600 feet above sea level in Michigan for the summers, I followed that plan and did not get serious headaches/nausea upon my returns. I had learned about Diamox several years earlier while staying in Salt Lake and skiing in Big Cottonwood.

Google Altitude Sickness, print out the description of symptoms and highlight those that you experience to show to your physician. If the doctor declines to prescribe, you need a different physician.
post #12 of 13

One of the EpicSki Articles filed under First Run is about altitude adjustment.  It's written by an M.D. who works in Colorado.

 

http://www.epicski.com/a/altitude-adaptation-and-acute-mountain-sickness

post #13 of 13

There is an excellent, comprehensive  website on the topic of altitude sickness:  altitudemedicine.org     

 

It is designed and run by medical doctors from the Institute of Altitude Medicine in Telluride, CO.

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