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Monarch, Colorado Ski Resort


A family ski trip can be the vacation of a lifetime, but unless you are prepared for the challenges that Mother Nature dishes out, that seemingly blissful ski trip can turn out to be a nightmare.  Below are some of the most common health related problems associated with being at a higher elevation.  Also included are things you can do to prevent or lessen the affects of these unwanted environmental hazards.

Altitude Sickness

As you and your family head up to the mountains for that much needed ski trip the amount of oxygen decreases with increased altitude.  Coming from a much lower elevation, your body needs time to adjust to this increase properly.  Studies found that above 8000 feet altitude illness affects 20 to 30 % of visitors from lower elevation areas.  A lot of this depends on your current health, how hard you exercise, what you eat and drink, and how fast you ascend.  Symptoms of altitude sickness include shortness of breath, dizziness, headaches, nausea, feeling unusually tired, and trouble sleeping.

To avoid these unpleasant feelings, try these simple but effective measures; Number one, drink plenty of water, moderate your physical activity, reduce caffeine and alcohol intake, eat high carbohydrate foods, & reduce salty foods.  If you're still feeling bad, consider retreating to lower elevations and seek medical help.

Cold Related Injury

The temperature generally falls 3 degrees Fahrenheit for every 1000 feet elevation gained.  In simple terms, it can be cold up here.  Add to this wind chill and sometimes wet conditions and you have the perfect ingredients for a condition called hypothermia (low core body temperature).  Symptoms of this dangerous condition are confusion, irritability, difficulty speaking, and loss of coordination.
Combating this can be easy if you prepare in advance.  First of all dress warmly and in layers.  Avoid cotton fabric!  Preferably your first layer should be a "wicking" one (pulling moisture away from your body).  Try and use synthetic, water resistant outer layers as well as synthetic socks or better yet wool.  Water resistant gloves are also a must.  You should also eat and drink sufficiently as well as taking frequent breaks back at the lodge.

Frostbite is another common cold weather injury.  This occurs as skin (mainly your extremities) is over-exposed to cold air during which ice crystals can form in the skin. The skin can become numb, firm, and white in color.  Blisters can occur in severe cases.

This is unlikely to happen is you dress properly in layers, wearing warm and dry boots and gloves that fit.  Taking that extra break in the lodge with some hot cocoa can definitely help too.

Sun Related Injury

Damaging UV Radiation from the sun is generally 40% greater on the slopes than at sea level.  This intense sun can be harmful to the skin and eyes.  You may not realize you have received too much sun until it is too late.  Applying proper sunscreen (SPF 15 or greater) should be tops on your list.  Apply liberally and often.  Also, those sunglasses and goggles you see everyone wearing are not just so you can look good, they are very important for protecting your eyes from the sun's damaging affects. 

Realizing these environmental hazards exist and preparing properly for them will assure that you and your family will have an enjoyable and safe vacation experience.  Don't hesitate to ask our friendly and knowledgeable staff for advice and help if you need it.