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First time in Co Advice

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
My buddy and me are headed out to Colorado on the 18th of January. We are flying into Denver early afternoon and hoping to board at Keystone that day. Then going onto Frisco where we will be staying at the Best Western Dillon. Then we have Fri, Sat and Sun, going to do a day at Vail, Beaver Creek and Breck. This is out first time ever out west (from NY land of ice, now no snow). Any good advice anyone want to give. Any problems with altitude sickness?? All these resorts allow snowboarders??

post #2 of 24
Youll be worse off if you booze heavily when you get there. Trust me. Not saying you shouldnt do it or cant do it or whatever. Drink a lot of water in the week leading up (and while youre out there) and thats probably the best you can do other than just get used to it. Personally I drank way to much on the flight out, when I arrived, the whole first night, and was only winded quickly when doing anything that required movement for about 1 or 2 days, but I know a lot of people that have had real problems when acclimating. You can ride at those resorts also.
post #3 of 24
Should be a good time....

Frisco is a good place of operations. There are plenty of places to eat and there is a Safeway and Wal-Mart if you need to pick something up. Barkleys was my favorite place to eat, but I havent eaten there in 3 years.

Due to front range crowds you might ski

Breckenridge on Friday-From my experience Breck gets crowded on a weekend
Beaver Creek on Saturday-Least crowded of the mountains and your best bet on saturday
Vail on Sunday-Crowds hopefully arent that bad on Sunday

Or you could just go where ever the best snow is!!!!!!

Anybody else care to comment or agree or disagree!!!!!

When is your return flight????If its Sunday night leave plenty of time to get back because I hear the drive back can be long on a Sunday.....Hopefully its Monday...
post #4 of 24
I doubt you will get to ski on the day of your arrival. By the time you get your baggage, pick up your car, and drive up to the mountains it will be pretty late in the afternoon - probably close to 3-hours from landing to Keystone.

And yes there is a lot of traffic coming down from the mountains on Sunday so I echo the hope that you are flying home Monday.

Altitude - drink lots of water - before you are thirsty...and little alchohol. Carry aspirin with you and carry water with you on the slopes.
post #5 of 24
Here's the definitive thread on altitude adjustment; most posts by "dp" a practicing physician/patroller at Vail.

Keystone has night skiing, here's their days of operation during your stay, you should be able to ski the day of arrival.
• Open Wed-Sun 1/10/07 - 02/25/07
post #6 of 24
Hey Dude--Would really recommend against trying to go from sea level to alpine activity at 9600 feet (that's Breck's base) in the same day. Recipe for much bad stuff. ICSFM just posted the altitude thread above, but in case you don't read it, here is my horror story from a trip to Breck three years ago:

My wife (who was born in--and lived the first 24 years of her life in--Colorado, and who visited Colorado every year for the next 13 years) and I went to Breck three years ago to ski. We flew into Denver and drove straight up (like we always do). Without going into all of the details, she felt lousy starting the second day and got progressively worse. She thought she just had a bug. On the third night, at around 2:00 a.m., she woke me up because on top of feeling like hell, she thought there was a mouse in the room. I woke up and sure enough, I heard a "crackle crackle crackle" sound, which sounded like a mouse trying to chew on a candy wrapper. Except that, it wasn't a mouse. It was the alveoli in my wife's lungs expelling fluid every time she exhaled. It only took about a minute to figure out that the sound was not coming from a mouse but from her mouth.

We woke up her brother who was with us on the trip and as luck would have it, is a cardiologist. He immediately diagnosed her as having High Altitude Pulmonary Edema and told us to leave immediately and drive to Denver. We did. Amazingly, though we had both grown up in Colorado, we had never heard of HAPE and had no idea how serious it was. My wife ended up spending 3 days in the hospital with an irregular EKG, had to wear a portable heart monitor for a month, and is still suffering from some long-term effects of HAPE. We can no longer sleep above 8000 feet in the Winter time (for some reason, it is much more difficult for her to be at altitude in the Winter than Summer).

Needless to say, this was one of the scariest episodes to ever happen to us, and I wish we had been more educated about symptoms before hand.

HAPE is seriously bad ju ju. It does not matter whether you are in terrific cardiovascular shape or not. My wife was a competitive swimmer with a resting heart rate of 48 pre-HAPE. The oxygen exchange system is a tricky thing. The long-flight will actually help you because the cabin is pressurized to 8000 feet. This will actually begin the acclimatization process. However, no matter how bad your feet are itching to board, I would wait a day if I were you, and I would save Breck (the highest of your destinations) for the last day, and definitely spend your nights below 8500 feet if at all possible. Good luck, and yes, they all allow boarders to ruin the snow.
post #7 of 24
Thread Starter 
Yes we are leaving on Monday, I was really hoping to ski monday but that wont happen. I am going to try and get some Diamox for the trip any one try it before. Thanks for the idea of holding brek till the last day thats a good idea.
post #8 of 24
Everyone reacts to altitude differently. Some people can't take it at all, others it has little to no effect on. (At least the altitude of CO.) Anyway, the low humidity will likely have just as much of an effect on you - DRINK LOTS OF WATER. Besides being easily dehydrated, the next most likely problem you'll run into is with sleeping. I don't recommend taking sleeping pills, but getting to bed early will help with things.

There's a really good bar with a good bar food near your hotel, but it's not obvious. It's right on the corner across from the post office and it's called Arapahoe Cafe. Drive around the back, go in the back door, and down the stairs. I highly recommend going there for dinner - check out what their special is for the night. The restaurant upstairs is pricey, the bar downstairs isn't.
post #9 of 24
I live at sea level too and went to ski in CO recently. I had no problems other than waking up with a bad headache the first 2 mornings. I ascribe that to lower hydration. I drank a lot of water throughout the day and the headaches went away. Other than that I really couldnt tell much of any difference at all from sea level as far as any physical effects or problems with endurance.
post #10 of 24
To echo what skierxman said I have no difficulties with altitude, but the wife gets mild headaches for the first couple of days.

Read the thread Icanseeformiles linked to and follow the suggestions and consult your local doctor prior to departing.

Have a great trip and I concur with Crank on what area to ski each day.
post #11 of 24


i used diamox 2 years ago at keystone and i couldnt tell any difference. my body takes 24 hours to acclimate period. the only thing it really did was give me cottonmouth. camelbaks are your friend...
post #12 of 24
Get a CamelBak. You can put 32oz of water in it. I use mine all the time and love it. Why do skiers cry about snowboarders so much.
post #13 of 24
Great altitude thread by dp.

The only anecdote I can add for first timers is that in observing others only a small minority have trouble at 8,000 foot resorts, but that many more do at 9,000+.
post #14 of 24
Originally Posted by vinn View Post
There's a really good bar with a good bar food near your hotel, but it's not obvious. It's right on the corner across from the post office and it's called Arapahoe Cafe. Drive around the back, go in the back door, and down the stairs. I highly recommend going there for dinner - check out what their special is for the night. The restaurant upstairs is pricey, the bar downstairs isn't.
vinn, I think they are staying at the Best Western Lake Dillon Lodge, since they mentioned it's in Frisco. Yes folks, the Best Western that has "Dillon" in the name is NOT in Dillon. The Best Western that's actually in Dillon, right around the corner from the Arapahoe Cafe, is the Best Western Ptarmigan Inn, and does not have Dillon in its name.

Worth the trip over to it though, I really like the Arapahoe Cafe. You can get directly to it by taking the Dillon Dam road from Frisco - directly across the street from the BW in Frisco instead of getting onto the highway. After you cross the damn, take the right turn just before the traffic light at the end of the Dam Road, and that will lead you up into Dillon center with the Arapahoe Cafe on your right when you reach the downtown.

You guys are in the BW that's right at the Frisco Transportation Center (Summit Stage free bus hub for all of the county) and a "lovely" strip mall with ski shops, some cafes and restaurants, a Safeway, a Walmart, and nothing else of real interest. But really central to transportation, including just a 1/2 block to get back on I-70 to head out to Vail or BC. FoodHedz is a real good cafe/quick (not "fast") food restuarant run by a couple of great chefs. Looks like a hole in the wall but actually some really good meals.

BTW, Diamox makes beer (and soda and anything else carbonated) taste real bad. Whether you're taking Diamox or not, hydrate a lot (not with beer!)

Snowboarding is allowed at all of the resorts you mentioned, and I'm pretty sure every resort in CO. Nearest places that don't allow borders are 400 miles away around Salt Lake City!

I agree with all the advice about not trying to ride on Friday. Lifts stop running at 4pm so if you're getting into DEN sometime in the afternoon, you're not going to get anywhere in time. If you get up the hill to Summit County by late afternoon, check into your hotel, and really are stoked to get out that night, Keystone has night skiing/riding.

Yes, Breck can be crowded on weekends, but so can everywhere else. If you're fine with the altitude on Friday, then do Breck (the highest of the ones you're hitting). But if you're still a bit short-of-breath but feel good enough to ride, I'd suggest use that first full day to do either Beaver Creek (8100 ft base) or Vail (8120), both of which are at lower altitudes than Breck (9600) and Keystone (9280). You'll be sleeping at about 9065 feet (according to Google Earth) at that part of Frisco. So hitting Vail or the Beav on Friday would be giving you some time lower when at the base, to help acclimate. Breck on Sunday isn't too bad, and a lot of the Front Range folks leave early in the day.
post #15 of 24
I agree with MarkXS about boarding the lower elevation joints first (Vail, BC). Also, you might like Vail so much that you don't want to leave. As far as Diamox goes, you should speak with your physician before taking. There are some potentially serious side-effects to Diamox, and it is not friendly to your liver or kidneys while taking. All the more reason to avoid alcohol while up there.

There is an altitude medicine clinic that is a part of the CU Med School. They have done testing with Gingko supplementation as a prophylaxis for HAPE, HACE, and Altitude Sickness. You may want to consider that as well.

As for all of the anecdotal "I've never had a problem with altitude" stories above, and most likely, below, that is the problem with HAPE and all altitude related disorders: there is no "pre-existing" condition (other than the congenital narrowing or absence of the right pulmonary artery) which is a prognostic marker for HAPE, et al. It is an "incidental" illness that can strike someone who has never had altitude sickness before.

For instance, as a Colorado native, my wife probably spent between 2000 to 3000 (literally) days and nights at or above 8500 feet before her incident.

When you are up there, be mindful of how you are feeling, and as goofy as it sounds, one of the best things you can do if you begin to feel lightheaded, tingly, sluggish, etc. is to go to an "oxygen bar" and take a few hits of supplemental oxygen. This will help your respiratory exchange system, take the load off your right heart, and may prevent any altitude disorder from progressing into something seriously bad.

Have fun.
post #16 of 24

Altitude Adjustment

Hi folks...
My .02 on altitude adjustment is just that...I've used a product called Altitude Adjustment, an herbal combination that has helped me. Relatively inexpensive. Begin taking them at home 2-3 days before your trip. Find in in health food stores or at

Happy Trails
post #17 of 24
I've had hundreds of guests over the years at my house in Breck at 9700'. I'd say almost 50% present some symptoms of dehydration, maybe 10% of AMS, and never HAPE. HAPE is extremely rare. AMS is almost always relatively minor and only in a few cases has it caused one of my guests to skip a day of skiing. Usually, just some bad sleep and no appetite. It's rare for AMS to last more than 24 hours.

A bigger problem that is often confused with AMS is symptoms of dehydration. And it's not easily solved. Someone from a moist climate must be drinking water almost constantly in order to not get any dehydration symptoms. And unlike AMS, dehyration symptoms will continue until you get and stay properly hyrdrated.

One thing I did when I built this house was install a whole-house humidifier system so that my guests would be more comfortable. When I have guests, I crank it up to about 40% which makes a huge difference because it's difficult to hydrate while sleeping and you loose a lot of moisture while breathing our dry air.

If you start getting a headache in your face, forehead, or temple areas, drink as much as you can for hours. Don't assume it's AMS and normal.
post #18 of 24
My experience - the first night I have trouble sleeping. Ditto on the water thing, get a camelback, it will help in stamina. The other thing to keep in mind is that the day you fly in, you've already had to depressurize once. They used to warn us in SCUBA about diving on days you flew - might be a factor in altitude adjustment as well - something to consider.

When I do that "quick start" thing in PC getting my gear to the window is always exhausting - might be the flight or the altitude or both.

The other thing I do is train with some intensive (ie interval type) cardio workouts in the gym a few weeks before. You know those exercises on the eliptical trainer or running where you vary your heart rate between 70-90% of peak V02. It tends to build your capacity, which will help.

good luck!
post #19 of 24
Breck is the only place we have ever had a problem. My son became ill from the effects. Mostly a headache and nausea. It took about a full day and a half to adjust. As others have said, drink a LOT of water for a week before coming out and drink a lot of water...yes, I said WATER, on the plane.

I felt the effects, but not as bad as my son. We were there for a week and had a great time. Have fun.
post #20 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thank I have dug up my camel back and it will be going with me I really wanted to fill with beer haha but doing water instead.
post #21 of 24
Hmm, so what do you do if you take a diuretic for high BP? Do you just not take it for the time you're there?
post #22 of 24
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
vinn, I think they are staying at the Best Western Lake Dillon Lodge, since they mentioned it's in Frisco.
I overlooked the Frisco part and just saw "Best Western Dillon". Too bad, the Ptarmigan Lodge is much nicer.
post #23 of 24
Wow - no wonder all the former Colorado skiers that come to Whistler tell me that they feel like they have loads of energy while here and always thought that headaches were a necessary endurance in the mountains...
post #24 of 24
Originally Posted by kayandallie View Post
Hmm, so what do you do if you take a diuretic for high BP? Do you just not take it for the time you're there?
TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR. Bottom line. Abrupt discontinuation of diruetic (or any bp meds) is a mistake.
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