Getting High In Utah
on November 26, 2012
If you are a visitor, you have packing, travel, gear and reservations to worry about. You're pulling sweatshirts out of storage boxes.
We want your dream ski vacation to be all pow turns, sunshine, and Unicorns - not bed ridden with altitude sickness, the effects of which are felt by up to 40% of visitors to mountain towns every year.
High altitudes put stress on your body. The most common form of altitude sickness, AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) can occur at even 7,000 feet above sea level. Some Utah ski resorts, like Brian Head, get up to 11,000!
You aren't losing your breath just because it's beautiful, or because you've spent too many Sundays watching NFL Redzone. The lack of atmospheric pressure makes it hard for your lungs to absorb oxygen. While that makes us locals pros (at pretending we're not out of breath), it's also taught us some tips I'd like to share to ensure your good health when you travel!
*Stay hydrated. Drink water. If you hate water, go with a green tea or light recovery energy drink. Coffee is very dehydrating and can have adverse effects on you, even if you're a daily coffee drinker at home. That groggy feeling due to your lack of caffeine for a day or two will be quickly pushed aside when you're standing on top of that line you've wanted to ski for years. Even the headache you'll receive from your friends if you fall down it will beat the one that doesn't even allow you the energy to leave your hotel...
*Watch for signs. A headache can be more than just a headache. Even post ski fatigue should be monitored closely. Nausea and dizziness? That's serious.
*Pig out. Carbs are actually good for you and take less oxygen to digest. The knowledge that you'll ski them off anyway gives your mountain vacation the biggest eating green light next to Thanksgiving - don't waste the opportunity.
*Easy on the booze. In spite of all the local, extra delicious beers and specialty cocktails we offer, I encourage you to go easy on your arrival until you're sure you're OK. You might not feel the buzz and it might sneak up on you. That surprise hangover you received despite only drinking three beers is not worth the pain and the ridicule. Ever. Let your body acclimate before you decide to "show Utah how we drink in ____".
Other things to consider on the slopes? Don't forget your chapstick, lotion, and sunscreen. Even in the winter you need to keep your skin safe and hydrated. You can burn even on cloudy days on the mountain.
While locals often treasure their goggle tans right behind their poorly grown mustaches, you'll get tired of people awkwardly staring at you when you're forced back into the office Monday morning.
We want you to go home and brag about being a powder slayer, not get teased for a Rudolph-esque nose burn and tales of sleeping instead of skiing. Hydrate, acclimate, eat, and take it easy for a couple days before attempting to etch your name into local lore both on and off the slopes.
*Let it snow*