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Altitude Sickness?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
We're flatlanders heading for our first trip to the Rockies (Copper) and I'm wondering what people's experiences have been flying into that altitude (base 9712', summit 12,313') from near sea level.

I've done the basic research (limit activity at first, drink lots of water, no alcohol, give yourself a chance to aclimatize) ... but have people in this situation found it helpful to use medications like Diamox (Acetazolamide)? Or do folks generally just give themselves a few days to adjust?

Thanks!
post #2 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Curtis
We're flatlanders heading for our first trip to the Rockies (Copper) and I'm wondering what people's experiences have been flying into that altitude (base 9712', summit 12,313') from near sea level.

I've done the basic research (limit activity at first, drink lots of water, no alcohol, give yourself a chance to aclimatize) ... but have people in this situation found it helpful to use medications like Diamox (Acetazolamide)? Or do folks generally just give themselves a few days to adjust?

Thanks!
I now live over a mile high and do all of my recreating at altitudes up to 14,000 so it's not so much of an issue anymore. We used to fly in from SF to CO for skiing though, and had a couple of *interesting* experiences with altitude.

Don't ski a massively hard day the first day. Certainly don't stay up until 2:00am in Denver *dehydrating*, then drive up to ski first thing in the a.m., ski hard all day, have a beer at lunch, have a few glasses of wine after, sit in the hot tub, and then forget about drinking a bunch of water. Been there, done that. Thankfully I was 23 and could recover a bit more quickly than I can now!

My FIL, who is a doctor, has used the altitude meds and found them helpful. We about killed him on 11,000ft + a hike a couple of years ago, when he had just come from sea level. When he came out to ski at Copper this winter he used altitude meds the first couple of days and they helped, although he thought they might have been overkill.

I find that the basics work well. Certainly spend a night at lower elevation if you can (Denver or Idaho Springs). Avoid pushing yourself too hard the first day or two. Drink a little more water than you think you should, and avoid all but the bare minimum of booze. Eat well. Have some *vitamin A* (Advil or Aleve) on hand.

That said, you never know who altitude sickness is going to affect. Sometimes it's the youngest and strongest and healthiest in the party. My sister has been unable to sleep well at altitude ever since she was a kid. I usually don't have problems and spend a ton of time at altitude, but every once in a while I still get what are clearly altitude-related symptoms. Thankfully, altitude sickness is highly unlikely to be serious at CO elevations, usually just an annoying headache, maybe an upset stomach.

Glad to hear you're coming out. It's been snowing again, and it's maybe supposed to dump today and tonight.

Mollmeister
post #3 of 17
Different people react different ways and it's hard to say what effect it'll have on you. Altitude has very little effect on me until I'm over 14,000'. I wouldn't worry too much about it, but definitely stay hydrated (it's not so much the altitude as the much lower humidity from what you're used to.)
post #4 of 17
Curtis, I wouldn't worry too much. Sure you might get a headache and feel lousey, but you are on a ski trip to ski. Drink alot of water is always good advice, you'll be dehydrated from the plane and that screws the system up to start. It is a good idea to not go balls to the walls for the first day.

I usually ski in Utah, and one of the reasons I like staying down in Sandy, is because sleeping low is a good idea, when you can do it, I never have any trouble with altitude.
post #5 of 17
Curtis,

GO to the fitness and health forum and you will find an excellent article by our expert physician DP on altitude sickness.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=34470
post #6 of 17
Went to Winter Park for 2 weeks in Jan from Sea level (I look out of my window and there is an angry sea, its a bit windy at the moment). We drank loads and loads of water, and avoided the hot tub after doing that once and feeling horrible. Also did not drink much coffee/ cola etc etc. Took it easy on the first day, cruised about. Hydration back pack helps alot when skiing.
post #7 of 17
The best thing is to keep hydrated. I always carry a small bottle of water when skiing in high altitude. Also, I noticed if I had to exert on the trails, skating, herringboning up a short hill, or just poleing anywhere, it was quite taxing.

I had a dull headache for about two days so I also would suggest an Advil every morning after breakfast.

Hey, it is still worth it-you're out west!!
post #8 of 17
Get a camelback so it is very easy to Hydrate, take an asprin regimen (81 MG) for the week before you leave and continue the whole trip. If nothing else works, some shops have little "puffers" that have 100 bursts of O2
post #9 of 17
Dramamine with Excedrin (2 of each) has basically the same actives in it that altitude sickness pills do. We took that our first day out, and it worked pretty well. Try it out!
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by FRAU
Curtis,

GO to the fitness and health forum and you will find an excellent article by our expert physician DP on altitude sickness.

http://forums.epicski.com/showthread.php?t=34470
Great post by DP. Thanks!
post #11 of 17
Drink lots of water, as everyone else has said. But don't let that spoil your trip. Get a Camelback for the slopes so you've got fluids at hand all the time.

I had a some tough first few days on trips to Summit Cty, mostly headaches. On the advice of a friend, I took ginsing and iron suppliments (to increase red blood cells that carry O2) for two weeks prior to my last few trips and havn't had any issues since.
post #12 of 17
My wife got sick a few years ago at Taos. She ended up throwing up lots of water - so it is possible to overdo it. The MD's in the clinic there told us (contrary to all the convention wisdom that is being posted here) that docs aren't really sure why some people get altitude sickness and others do not. My wife and I were together the entire time, followed the same routine (hydration, no booze, easier first day etc..), but she got sick and I felt fine. They said some people are just more susceptible, and there's not much you can do (short of the prescription meds) to prevent it if you are travelling right to altitude.

The advice they gave us was to try to spend a night at a lower elevation if possible at the start of the trip, and to sleep below 8000 feet if possible. They also mentioned that the problems often arise in the morning, due to the lower respiration rates while you are sleeping.

Given all of that, I would still follow the same routine (hydration, mellower first day, no booze, avoid heavy meals etc...) that everyone has suggested. I'd also tell you not to worry too much about it - it affects a small minority of people, and the local clinics are all very well versed in treatment. Have a blast, you're in for a great time.
post #13 of 17
I'm convinced that many people who think they're having trouble with altitude are really having a problem with the dryness so hydration is essential. It's also helpful to use a saline nasal spray. It won't help much with altitude but you'll still feel a lot better. I always forget mine so I have to buy a new bottle every year. You'll have a great time at Copper!
post #14 of 17
Gingko Biloba... I don't know if it works but every time I have been to the mountains (11 times in the last 4 years) from the Midwest, I always take Gingko for 10 to 14 days before I go. I take it while I am there and also drink lots of water the week before I go and while in the mountains. I also don't drink alcohol for at least the first 24 hours at altitude. I have never ever had any problems and I could be in better shape too. Like I said, I don't know if it works or not but since I have not had a problem, I am going to keep doing it this way.

Ty
post #15 of 17
I skied Breckenridge in College and we stayed at Beaver run which is like 10k. Sleeping the first night or two was tricky, but part of that was excitement for the trip. Go easy near the top the first few days. I remember skiing bumps and not being able to catch my breath at all. Get in shape it will help......
post #16 of 17
Just got back to MA from skiing CO for the first time...We stayed in Leadville, and the elevation was certainly a factor. Just with breathing though the first two days, I found myself taking bigger breaths and stopping more going down the hill. Honestly I drank little water, lots of beer, and no meds and was fine otherwise- just affects people differently. If its sunny wear sunscreen though. I skied Vail Tuesday and have the "tan" to prove it.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, we're back now.

My wife and I had some shortness of breath, and fairly minor headaches for the first two days. No nausea or major symptoms. We had Diamox, but didn't take it.

We all had a lot of sinus problems that persisted for the duration of our stay, and which later morphed into colds. So we really had a hard time differentiating between altitude issues, irritated sinuses from dry air, and colds!

Thanks to everyone for the information and advice!
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