How To Avoid Altitude Sickness from High Altitude Skiing

Don't Get Sick; Have a Great Skiing Holiday!

Riding the ski lift

To get guaranteed snow and great skiing or snowboarding, you often need to go to high altitude resorts! Many of these resorts, particularly in the USA, get very early snow, often starting in September and continuing into June the next year. These resorts open in November and are perfect for early season skiing as well as deep powder snow later in the season.

Winter Park Resort, Colorado, USA, for example, has its base at 9000 feet. This means great snow conditions, but the air is thinner and less oxygen is available. People coming from lower elevations may experience altitude sickness when skiing at this altitude. It usually occurs within the first 48 hours and you may experience headaches, nausea, insomnia and loss of appetite.

Here's what to do to prevent altitude sickness:

  1. Drink lots of water. You need to drink much more than at sea level - 4 liters a day is recommended. Carry a hydration pack such as a Camelback or stop often to drink water available at water stations in all the restaurants.
  2. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, as they dehydrate you. Probably not what you want to hear, but it really will lead to a more enjoyable ski trip if you can stay off the booze and limit your coffee stops for the first few days at least.
  3. Select high carbohydrate, low fat foods for lunch stops and buy or take healthy snacks with you (such as granola bars). Also avoid salty foods as they also dehydrate you.
  4. Take it easy on your first day. Chances are you're skiing for at least a few days, so there's no need to go mad and ski from opening lift until closing lift on the first day. It's harder to breathe at higher altitude and even if you're very fit, you can still feel the effects if you push yourself too hard too quickly.
  5. If symptoms persist or get worse, seek medical assistance. Altitude sickness can become very serious and can be fatal. If you experience symptoms which just keep getting worse, you should go down to a lower elevation or seek medical help immediately.

Follow these 5 steps to prevent getting sick, but do take this illness seriously and if in doubt seek medical help immediately.


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