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Our top tips for high altitude skiing

8 Mar, 2023
3mins, 30s read
Sarah Cramer
Sarah Cramer
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Top Tips for Skiing at High Altitudes

If you’re looking for a skiing holiday that’s jam-packed full of snow, epic mountain views and pistes that open early and late in the season, then a high-altitude location may be just the ticket. But if you haven’t ventured high up into the mountains before, it can sometimes take a little bit of getting used to, so here are Heidi's top tips for making the most of a high-altitude ski holiday

Look out for symptoms of altitude sickness

As you gain height in the mountains, the air pressure drops, and so the level of oxygen falls. This can make breathing harder and may also cause headaches, nausea, dizziness, and loss of appetite, leading to altitude sickness. But don’t panic; most skiers only experience mild altitude sickness at heights over 2,500m, which typically subsides after 24hrs. If it lasts longer, head further down the mountain and seek medical advice. 
There are huge advantages to skiing at higher altitudes, particularly early and late in the ski season, and a few simple tricks will help make it pain-free.

How to avoid Altitude Sickness

Ease yourself into it

Eager to hit the slopes straight away? Hold your horses! Going flat out on your first day at a high altitude could end in tears. So take it easy to start with. Begin with a few runs at a lower level before gradually climbing up to higher slopes. This will help your body to adjust and avoid altitude sickness. Look at it as a great excuse to explore some piste-side mountain huts. Sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular mountain vistas. Time to chill! 

Drink plenty of water

With all of the excitement of getting to your ski resort, you’ll probably be eager to check out the apres ski scene and enjoy a few celebratory drinks. But before you order a large round of Espresso Martinis, make sure you drink plenty of water. Without wanting to sound boring, excess alcohol coupled with reduced humidity at altitude can fast-track you to serious dehydration and more than just a bad hangover. Take it from us; it’s not worth it to miss your first morning of skiing. 

Get your beauty sleep

Not only will you look super fresh on the pistes, but a good night’s sleep will really help you out when you’re skiing high up in the mountains. Reduced oxygen at altitude will tire you out a bit quicker than usual, which, in turn, can worsen the symptoms of altitude sickness. So, take it easy and get lots of rest in between sessions. Yes, you heard that right; you have permission to spend extra time in bed! What’s not to love?!

Hit the gym before you travel

Skiing at high altitudes can take its toll on your body. With less oxygen in your blood, you’ll be working harder while you acclimatise. But don’t fear; a bit of preparation before you go can really help you to adapt and enjoy carving up the slopes. So, lace up your running trainers, or hop on the bike for some low-intensity aerobic training in the lead-up to your holiday. This will work wonders to improve your circulation, mobility and general fitness so you can hit the pistes at pace. Check out our How to Get Fit For Skiing blog for more ideas and advice. 

Other tips for skiing at high altitude

Keep your energy levels topped up

With all of this extra work, you’re definitely going to be working up a sizeable appetite out on the mountain. So, take a few extra snacks in your bag to keep your energy levels topped up as you go. The last thing you want is a hangry episode! Granola bar, anyone? And don’t forget to stop for a good lunch, too. Find a good piste-side mountain hut and grab some healthy grub to fuel a big afternoon on the slopes. 

Wrap up warm

Brrrrr, it’s cold out there! Skiing at high altitudes may leave you feeling a bit chillier than at lower resorts, so be sure to pack a few extra thermals to keep you warm on the pistes. Having said that, you’ll be working a bit harder than usual, too, so wear layers that you can easily add or remove depending on how you’re feeling. A neck warmer is a must-have accessory too. Check out our What to wear on a skiing holiday blog for more advice on what to pack. 

Slap on the sunscreen

Echoing the wise words of Baz Luhrmann’s iconic 90’s hit, wear sunscreen. So, don’t hit the higher slopes until you’ve slathered on some sunscreen. Even if it’s cloudy. And make sure you’ve got some decent goggles with UV protection, too.

Enjoy the extra snow, bigger views, and longer season

It's easy to forget with all of that the reason you are skiing at high altitude in the first place. The payback of being able to ski very early, or very late in the season, or in the years when even mid-season snow is lighter on the lower resorts, makes high altitude skiing an absolute win. And it really is simple to come a little more prepared than usual. So enjoy!

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