How to prevent altitude sickness on ski vacation

You’ve booked your dream ski vacation (or your summer mountain beat-the-heat getaway) and taken care of every detail. Even if all of the arrangements are made and you have all the equipment that you need, there is one detail you might still be missing. Altitude sickness skiing can range from uncomfortable symptoms to a serious health condition. The very most important thing you can do to prepare for your ski trip, or any mountain vacation, is to take steps to prevent altitude sickness.

Who can get altitude sickness?

Almost 1 in 4 people will get symptoms of altitude sickness, or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), when they go skiing at an altitude of over 8,000 ft, says Dr. Dennis Lipton with Vail Health.

Being fit doesn’t help prevent altitude sickness. If because you are fit you jump right into strenuous activity you may put yourself at higher risk. At higher altitudes the barometric pressure drops and there is less oxygen.

Most ski resorts live at high mountain altitudes and you body needs to be able to adjust. Anyone is at risk.


Heading to the mountain or any place that takes you to a higher altitude? The most important thing you can do is to for a successful mountain vacation is to prevent altitude sickness - learn how! #altitudesickness #hiking #skiing #mountains #altitude

What is altitude sickness?

Symptoms of altitude sickness typically come on a few hours after you arrive at a much higher altitude than you are used to. They typically get better within a day or two.

Dr. Lipton says symptoms of altitude sickness include severe fatigue, nausea, headache, weakness, and a general feeling of being unwell, often likened to a hangover. Dizziness, fatigue, vomiting, loss of appetite and trouble sleeping are other symptoms.

How can you prevent altitude sickness?

How to prevent altitude sickness
The number one thing you should do to prepare for your family ski vacation is to take steps to prevent altitude sickness.

Acclimate Your Body to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Though not always possible, acclimatization is the best prevention. Give your body time to adjust. If you are flying to a Colorado ski resort, you may want to spend a night in Denver at 5,280 feet before heading up to over 8,000 feet at most ski resorts. The Mile High City has plenty of fun family hotels.

Sleep at a Lower Elevation to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Because your breathing slows when you sleep this is the time frame when you are most susceptible to not getting enough oxygen. So sleep at a lower elevation. Even if you are skiing at nine or ten-thousand feet if you sleep at eight-thousand feet or below you will be less likely to get altitude sickness.

Drink Water Prior to and During Your Visit to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Make sure to drink 3 to 4 quarts of water per day. And, even start this 48 hours prior to your travels. Get hydrated!

Avoid Alcohol Prior to and During Your Visit to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Both prior to and upon arrival avoid drinking too much caffeine, alcohol, smoking or taking sleeping pills or other medications.

Delay Strenuous Exercise to Prevent Altitude Sickness

Most ski resorts have much more than skiing to offer. Start out slow with a short day of skiing. Or enjoy one of the many other activities the first day of your trip. Ski towns have plenty of fun family activities to offer in addition to just skiing.

Talk to Your Doctor About Altitude Sickness

Dr. Lipton also suggests that if you know you are prone to getting altitude sickness to speak with your doctor about taking acetazolamide starting three days before your trip.

Can Supplemental Oxygen Help?

The best advice is to pose this question to your doctor. But Dr. Lipton says,”Certainly going to a bar for oxygen has more benefit and less harm than alcohol.” Supplemental oxygen will likely will help you feel better in the short term rather than long term. And, results may depend on the amount and how long you are able to take in the additional oxygen. In Colorado you can find services offering supplemental oxygen, such as Rent Oxygen Now.

Be Prepared and Have Fun!

Taking these fairly simple steps and doing your best to prevent altitude sickness will ensure a successful ski trip for your entire family. Take care of yourselves. Feel your best for enjoying your days under the blue skies of the Colorado ski slopes.

Taking steps to prevent altitude sickness may be the most important thing you can do to prepare for your family ski vacation. #skivacation #skitrip #skicolorado

What is the one thing you may not have prepared for on your ski vacation, or summer mountain adventures? Altitude sickness! Altitude sickness can hit anyone, no matter how fit. Read advice from mountain doctors on how to prevent altitude sickness on your mountain vacation. #skivacation #mountains
How to Prevent Altitude Sickness Skiing

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

10 thoughts on “How to Prevent Altitude Sickness Skiing

    • February 11, 2018 at 7:12 pm

      Absolutely! Tips for anytime you make a jump in altitude.

  • February 10, 2018 at 8:31 pm

    These are practical tips to ensure fun – not misery – on a high altitude vacation

    • February 11, 2018 at 7:13 pm

      Right!? Vacations should be fun!

    • February 11, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      You could even make Denver your home base and daytrip for mountain excursions.

  • February 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    I live in Colorado and travelers often overlook or ignore the symptoms of Altitude sickness. These are great tips

  • February 16, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    Good advice for the summer visits to high altitudes.

  • January 7, 2020 at 5:10 pm

    Hi There! Took our 7 yr old granddaughter skiing in Winter Park, CO . Even though we were mindful in hydrating her prior and during our 3 day stay w/ coconut water/water/Pedialyte altitude sickness was unavoidable for her. I bought oxygen in the can. We flew in from AL , drove directly to Winter Park as we did not have the luxury of staying in Denver for a day and then driving to Winter Park. I want to take her back but afraid of altitude sickness again. Anything else I can do to prevent ?
    Thank you for your time.

    • January 10, 2020 at 8:45 pm

      If you can’t take time to stop and acclimate, then you might want to go to one of the ski resorts at a lower altitude such as Durango, Steamboat or Powderhorn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *