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Adjusting to high elevation over longer periods

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
Adjusting to high elevation over longer periods.
I'm curious about Epicski members who spend all winter or extended periods in Colorado or other high elevation ski zones, but live the rest of year at sea level. Question: how well do you and family physically adjust to high elevation over many weeks or entire winter? Any lingering problems with sleeping, breathing, digestion? I'm late 50s and have taken a few ski trips to Summit County recently. Frankly, I suffer during the trips even though I'm relatively fit. Love the skiing, but lots of heavy breathing on the slopes. That partially subsides after a couple days acclimation, but still don't sleep well at 9000', even after 5 or 6 nights at elevation causing fatigue during ski day. Would consider someday doing a seasonal migration, splitting year between Colorado and East Coast, but curious if I'd have chronic elevation adjustment issues over an entire winter. I suppose only one way to find out
Thanks.
post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jamesj View Post

Adjusting to high elevation over longer periods.
I'm curious about Epicski members who spend all winter or extended periods in Colorado or other high elevation ski zones, but live the rest of year at sea level. Question: how well do you and family physically adjust to high elevation over many weeks or entire winter? Any lingering problems with sleeping, breathing, digestion? I'm late 50s and have taken a few ski trips to Summit County recently. Frankly, I suffer during the trips even though I'm relatively fit. Love the skiing, but lots of heavy breathing on the slopes. That partially subsides after a couple days acclimation, but still don't sleep well at 9000', even after 5 or 6 nights at elevation causing fatigue during ski day. Would consider someday doing a seasonal migration, splitting year between Colorado and East Coast, but curious if I'd have chronic elevation adjustment issues over an entire winter. I suppose only one way to find out
Thanks.

given a couple weeks you body will adjust. Once your adjusted once you will readjust faster every time after that at least that has been my case. 

You need to drink LOTS of water, clear pee is great, have all the right food and you will be fine. This trip I only had one day where I was really out of breath. Within 3 days I was able to do 2000 vertical feet of hiking. While feeling nearly as strong as I would at stowe. But the first time I made the trip to utah it took a good 2-3 weeks to feel comfortable skiing and SLC is not nearly as high as summit county.
post #3 of 6
I was born and raised at close to sea level and moved to higher elevation right after college, and have lived from 4,000 to 8,500 feet for 30 years. I have spent the last 25 years living at 6,500, and regularly playing at up to 14,000.  My impression is that the adaption period for people coming from lower elevations is about 30 days, although that comes with a big caveat.  Regardless of your health and fitness, altitude effects people differently.  Some people get sever effects at 12,000 feet, while others feel nothing except the need to slow down a little.  People climb Everest (29,000) without supplemental oxygen, while others suffer pulmonary edema and can die at 19,000 feet.  The bottom line is that your reaction to altitude is specific to you, and some of that you cannot change, but you will probably be close to your maximum adaptation in about a month.

BwPA made some good comments.  One thing about altitude is that it inhibits your thirst mechanism, so you are thirstier than you think you are.  Staying hydrated is key to functioning at higher altitudes, and that takes a conscious effort.
post #4 of 6
I got head aches for the first few days of skiing in Aspen one time and so did most out of state people that I talked to. However the people from L.A. all said "head aches? what are u talking about, this is the best air I've ever breathed!"
post #5 of 6
Took me quite a while to get so I could exert without breathing heavily--worst is hiking so I avoid it as much as possible--my first full season in Summit County.

When I returned last fall, I acclimated much easier.

I've had altitude sickness symptoms every time I've gone significantly above the 660 or so feet at which I've spent most of my 70 years.  I started several years ago using Diamox for a few days before I leave through a few days after I arrive, and found the symptoms pretty much resolved as long as I drink lots of water (need to do that anyway because I had a kidney stone seven years ago), don't consume alcohol and avoid caffein.  I'll get headaches if I don't drink water regularly through the day.

This winter I caught a terrible upper respiratory infection around the first of the year that lasted a long, long time.  I was still coughing occasionally six weeks later.  My eyes got infected, my nose ran terribly, my O2 saturation dropped to 80 and I had to use an oxygen generator machine while resting/sleeping for about a week.  I've never had a cold like that.  And I've had the pneumonia vaccine.   I think it was overexposure to a mix of bugs in the locker room at work.

Anyway, I work with a bunch of retired folks, many with East Coast and Midwest ties.  A lot of them spend the spring and fall "Colorado Mud Days" back home and have no lingering difficulties once the reacclimate here.  Some go "home" for the entire summer and report no problems coming back.
post #6 of 6
The 1st time in high elevation was the only time I had a slight problem. Went out early to ski & was back in the condo sleeping by noon. That was 30 yrs ago, haven't had a problem since.
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