If only skis could talk.
Pushing the limit: Understanding the body’s performance at high elevation
5 posts from 3 users
Updated 12 days ago
Jump to Newest Post
13 days ago

Interesting article from Summit County, Co. about what happens to flatlanders’ bodies when they go to the mountains



marzNC - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

One of the better articles about the amount of time needed for flatlanders to adjust to high altitude, meaning over 8000 ft.  Was interesting to read that the oxygen boosts sold at many ski shops in Colorado don’t really do anything useful.  I also saw canisters in shops at Taos.

For my trips to Taos, I’ve always stayed at least two nights at lower altitude before moving to TSV at 9000 ft.  Staying in the town of Taos or Santa Fe is around 7000 ft.  Even a night or two in Albuquerque at 5000 ft helps.

During a summer trip to Denver with my family, we’d been in Denver for a couple days before I took my daughter for a trail ride in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The ride was at around 11,000 ft.  Just the short 5-min walk we did while waiting for our ride to start had me completely out of breath.

Denis - DCSki Supporter
13 days ago

For what it’s worth,


I’m proud of this.  If you read to the end you’ll see why.

Performance at altitude is a funny thing.  I have no background in the science of it but have often wondered if frequent visitors to altitude either adapt very quickly or retain some ability to go to altitude and perform.  Examples could be Denver or salt Lake skiers who go every weekend, seemingly with no ill effects.  Even more so for Mammoth.  A majority of Mammoth skiers live in the LA Basin, at sea level, and go to an 11,000 summit.  Could many cycles of this be helping them to perform.

Again, FWIW, I seem to be gifted for altitude, despite having a heart condition.  When working I made many business trips to Pasadena and Boulder and often fitted some skiing into the preceding or following weekend.  Several times I skied Loveland pass in summer by thumbing rides to the top at 12,000 ft., hiking out a few hundred feet and skiing down following a streambed to the turnout where I had parked.  Many CO locals do this.  I would leave DC on an early AM flight, and be doing laps on Loveland Pass by mid PM mountain time.

13 days ago

Denis wrote:

 I’m proud of this.  If you read to the end you’ll see why.

Performance at altitude is a funny thing.  I have no background in the science of it but have often wondered if frequent visitors to altitude either adapt very quickly or retain some ability to go to altitude and perform.   

My personal experience is that is the case. For years I lived at 600 feet an would go to Breckenridge and sleep at 9600 feet,

but would regularly end up skiing at or near 12,000 feet. My first trip of the year I really felt it - no altitude illness, but pretty severe fatigue. My first walk of the season up 3 flights of stairs carrying 100 pounds of stuff to get to my  condo was a killer. After about 3 days, I was good to go.

My ski schedule for almost the entire winter was 12 days at altitude (skiing 10 of the 12) and 9 days at 600 feet - rinse and repeat all season (except for Christmas/News Years and spring break where I’d spend more time away). After the first trip I found that I could go back to 600 feet and then return to altitude and have absolutely no altitude issues. After doing this for years, I realized that once I got used to altitude that I could leave it and as long as I returned within about 30 days, that I would be fine at altitude again.

That being said, altitude never gave me real problems (this before my 12/9 regimen began). I can remember taking early morning flight s to Albuquerque, getting a rent car, driving to Santa Fe, booting up, and then skiing til the lifts shut down — with no problem.


Acetazolamide did help.


marzNC - DCSki Supporter
12 days ago

Found an article about the study done a few years ago that was trying to see how long the changes required to adapt to high altitude usually last.  A group of volunteers spent two weeks at over 15,000 ft, then left for 1-2 weeks, and returned for another short period.  A factor related to why the adaptation can last for a few months is that red blood cells survive for about 120 days.


Last winter I spent 10 days in NM for a trip to Taos, mostly sleeping at TSV at 9000 ft, went home for a week, and then back to Taos.  I stayed at 7000 ft in town the first couple days for the second trip.  I noticed I had less symptoms related to high altitude.  Mostly that I slept well by the second night.  Usually takes until the third or fourth night before I sleep as I usually do at home.

After the second Taos trip, I was home for a week before flying to SLC to ski at Targhee, Bridger, and Big Sky.  Driggs is around 6000 ft.  Now that I think about it, I slept pretty well even the first night.  But I figured that was because I was under 7000 ft.

Ad: Seven Springs Mountain Resort

Shout it from a mountaintop.
If you'd like to share your own comments, please log in to DCSki.
Don't have a profile? Create one here.
Page load time: 0.20 seconds