Ski Guide: Adjusting To High Altitude Ski Areas
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Ski Guide: Adjusting to High Altitude Ski Areas

Atmospheric pressure on top of high altitude places such as summits of ski vacation destinations are a lot different than that of the lowlands. Skiers notice this change in pressure, with some experiencing breathing problems and illnesses like Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Fortunately, skiers and those whose hobbies include conquering summits can actually plan ahead and prevent breathing problems and AMS while on the slopes.

Know the details. A good summit preparation typically starts with getting enough information about the mountains you plan to hike. Skiers and climbers usually notice altitude changes and effects at 7000 feet. With that in mind, consider the height of the mountains you wish to conquer, do your research and devise a plan. Take note that breathing could get more challenging as you progress.

Ascend slowly, don’t run to the mountains. Practice pacing and move to higher grounds slowly. As always, consider staying at intermediate elevation levels before eventually going to the next base on your way up. For example, spend some time at 5200’ instead of going immediately to 9700’ elevation which is a much higher ground. This way, your body gets to adjust to the area.

Sleep at low altitude. Book your accommodations at the lowest convenient altitude. Your body will be able to rest, recover and adjust more easily if you regularly descend to an available and convenient ground.

Stay hydrated. Those who go on ski vacations need to drink at least four liters of water each day to stay hydrated. They are also advised to refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages as skiing and alcohol do not really mix well. Also, people tend to experienced increased respiration as they move to higher altitudes so they dehydrate faster, hence the need to drink more water. Climbers and skiers are also encouraged to be conscious of signs and symptoms of AMS which include dizziness, headache, shortness of breath, and nausea.

Grab enough rest. Do not push yourself too hard to the point of not getting the right amount of sleep. Instead, make the necessary preparations – take it slowly and stay well rested when needed. Be mindful of whatever body pains and uneasiness you encounter and take note of the signs and symptoms of AMS. In case symptoms persists or worsen, have a break and descend. Or better yet, see a doctor. Always remember that a relatively simple and harmless case of AMS can possibly worsen if left untreated.

In the end, it has to be remembered that a perfect getaway at a dream ski vacation destination can only happen when as a result of careful planning.


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