Avoid High Altitude Sickness on Your Ski/Snowboard Vacation

You’ve planned the winter vacation that you’ve always dreamed of. You’re heading west to the Rockies for a week of powder skiing. Bags are packed, gear is stowed and you can’t wait to hit the slopes.

You fly into Salt Lake International airport (5000) feet from your sea-level home. Pretty cool that you can leave home, arrive here and get in a few runs the afternoon you arrive. What could be better? You get your rental car and drive up the canyon to the resort with a base level of 8000 feet, hop on the lift and ride up to 10,000 feet. Get in a few runs, have a few cocktails and a nice dinner when you’re done skiing, after all you’re on vacation

Next morning you don’t feel so good. You’re sluggish, nauseous with a headache and maybe a little short of breath. What a lousy time to get the flu! It feels a lot like the flu or a hangover, but what you probably are suffering from is high altitude sickness.

High altitude sickness can affect anyone, adults or children, when you travel from a lower elevation to a higher one. Not everyone suffers from it and its relatively easy to avoid and take care of so it doesn’t ruin your vacation.

Here are a few tips to follow to help you feel your best:

  • Hydrate. Drink twice as much water as you think you need, especially if you’re coming from sea level. Start hydrating before you arrive, flying will dehydrate you as well. Carry water with you on the mountain, either a water bottle or a hydration system like a “camelback”. Use bottled water if you absolutely must, but the water from the taps on the mountain will probably taste better!
  • Avoid Dehydration. Yes, take in all those fluids as mentioned above but avoid dehydrators such as caffeine, salt and alcohol. Doesn’t mean you can’t have an apres ski cocktail, just go easy especially the first night at elevation.
  • Eat Carbs. Carbs actually take less oxygen to metabolize and digest. Don’t worry about the calories, you’ll burn them off on the mountain and the carbs will help give you the energy to do it.
  • Take It Slow. If at all possible plan to spend your first night at a lower elevation in town and not at 10,000 feet. Taking a night to acclimate will go a long way in helping your body to adjust. Have a nice dinner, take in a concert, explore the city. Make plans ahead of time for things to do that first night in town. Odds are everyone will be tired from traveling anyway.

If spending a night at lower elevation isn’t possible, at least take it easy the first day on the mountain. Take the time to get your snow legs back and explore the mountain in easy stagers. Save the black diamonds for later.

There are also some drugs and energy drinks on the market that claim to prepare you for higher elevations and do away with any adjustment period. I have never heard that they work, but I haven’t spoken to a lot of people who’ve used them either.

Other suggestions to help prepare for a trip to altitude that I’ve seen are to take iron supplements or to take Ginkgo. None of these have science behind them, but there is some logic. Iron helps your body produce more hemoglobin which is generally seen in people at higher altitudes. Gingko enhances circulation which means more blood carrying more oxygen is circulating through your body.

Altitude sickness is generally harmless and short lasting. Once your body adapts to the altitude you’ll feel better. That takes time and you don’t want to spend your ski vacation feeling lousy and not being able to ski. The best way to prevent and fend off that sick feeling is hydration. Keep your fluids up before your trip and especially while on the mountain. It may be cold out but your engaging in lots of activity that uses up those fluids.

If hydration and rest don’t take care of the situation you’ll need to get some medical care. Many ski resorts have clinics on hand or ski patrol who are experienced in dealing with high altitude sickness. You might actually have caught the flu!

12 Awesome Benefits of a Skiing Holiday

The decision we make to embark on a skiing holiday is not one to be taken lightly, but it doesn’t have to costs a ton of money, and you don’t have to drag the family halfway across the world to visit some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet.

The perception of half freezing to death and having to lug a mountain of equipment is shattered by the reality of lots of sunshine, wearing the right clothes and being able to rent top-class boots and skis at the resorts is you want to travel light. The sense of satisfaction and achievement that you get from a skiing holiday is second to none and provides a positive outlook on life.

For skiing enthusiasts, there’s nothing more exhilarating than a change of scenery, time away from work and the feeling of freedom from the drudgery of work-life that skiing with nature gives us. Skiing comes with so many health benefits it ticks the ‘great for you’ box in so many ways. One of the things I love about ski holidays is that it is something the whole family can do together, or I can do by myself. And for me, nothing beats a winter ski holiday as an escape away from the drab, wet, windy, dark days and nights in the UK. Summer skiing holidays are just as fun and can physically and mentally prepare me for the winter months ahead.

As someone who likes to try to keep fit, I love the hours and days spent twisting and turning down the sunny, snowy slopes. I know this works most of the major muscle groups to provide an all-over workout, helping me to build strength and stamina. It can take me all week in the gym to achieve the same work out as a day on the slopes provides me with. Not only that but as someone who hates Cardio work in the gym, skiing gets my heart working faster and provides a fun cardio session that I just wouldn’t achieve in the gym. Especially if I combine it with some cross-country skiing and get a bit of walking in.

Skiing improves fitness and stamina. Imagine a month on the slopes: boy, I’d have had muscles like Arnie! Sadly my ski holidays don’t last more than a week. But in that one week, I can become noticeably fitter, healthier and happier, skiing really does tick all of the health boxes. When it comes to working hard and having fun, skiing is one of the best sports you can do.

I have listed some of the health benefits of skiing below to help you decide whether a skiing holiday is for you:

* Boosts mood – boosts overall happiness and well-being includes physical and mental health.

* Encourages social interaction – people naturally socialize as part of the ski experience.

* Promotes deep sleep – engages your entire body leading to a good night’s sleep.

* Promotes healthy eating habits – naturally be more conscious of eating the right fuel, more protein, healthy fats, less sugar, more fruits, and vegetables.

* Skiing improves proprioception – the ability to feel the position of different body parts and their movements.

* Improves Balance and coordination – need to be conscious of slight movements and positions of your body.

* Strengthens bones and joints – strengthens knees and bones become stronger through the weight-bearing impact on the legs.

* Strengthens lower body muscles – works your inner and outer thighs, hamstrings, quads, and glutes.

* Improves flexibility – building flexibility helps to avoid muscle strains and sprains.

* Increases cardiovascular endurance – works the heart and lungs and burns calories aiding weight loss.

* Improves balance and core strength – challenges your balance and agility and helps to build that six-pack.

For me, skiing is one of those activities that anyone of any ability can do and enjoy. Whether you are looking for a new hobby to keep you fit and healthy or are considering taking up a new sport to keep you out of mischief, skiing could be for you.

Whatever your activity or experience level skiing holidays can provide entertainment and fun for everyone.

Bulgaria – Summer Sun and Winter Ski – And Plenty in Between!

There’s no secret why Bulgaria has come to prominence over the last few years – it’s the best value beach holiday destination in Europe. Here are ten tips on what Bulgaria offers the holidaymaker, year round.

Beaches: You might not expect to find places with English names like Sunny Beach and Golden Sands, but these 1960s resorts have been brought right up to date while living up to their names. Sunny Beach is big and brash – Golden Sands is better for a more relaxed holiday.

Beaches plus: You don’t have to stay in a purpose-built resort to enjoy the beach. Nessebar, just a few miles from Sunny Beach, is a “living museum” town of cobbled streets and historic buildings reached by causeway from its beach hotels. Sozopol is another old town with a busy modern quarter.

Spa and wellness: Many of the new hotels that have sprung up in beach resorts offer beauty treatments and therapies. Aromatherapy and thalassotherapy, using sea water, are among the options.

Skiing: The resorts of Pamporovo and Borovets are especially good for beginners and a lot of money has been spent to improve accommodation standards, ski schools and ski lifts. The resort of Bansko is also good for intermediate and expert grades too, and is the most extensive with 40 miles of marked pistes.

Mountain activities: Bansko is a year-round resort with lots going on in the summer too. Try kayaking, mountain biking, rafting or trekking to the peak of Mount Vihren, at nearly 3,000 metres above sea level.

Cruising: Embark at the port of Varna to discover the Black Sea, stopping at places including Sozopol and Nessebar. Longer cruises visit Romania and Turkey.

History:A tour of the interior opens your eyes to a land of medieval towns and Orthodox monasteries. Don’t miss ancient Plovdiv (Bulgaria’s second city), the former capital of Veliko Tarnovo, and Rila monastery.

Wine: Many vineyards welcome visitors, where you can sample little-known and under-rated vintages such as Lyaskovets and Haskovo.

Country pleasures: Villages have come back to life after the collectivisation policy of the Communists. Farmhouse accommodation is starting to develop – and the food is delicious.

Culture capital: Sofia is a surprisingly diverse city, with ancient mosques and synagogues among its Orthodox cathedral and churches. It is close to Mount Vitosha, for a day or half-day glimpse of nature.

Bulgaria is not just a great choice for sun and sand but a place of history and culture, where people have re-discovered their traditions after the dismal years of Communism.

With availability of low cost flights to Bulgaria from all over Europe, holidays in Bulgaria remain affordable and a great alternative to the more traditional European holiday centres.

Cross-Country Skiing in Norway – Touring on the Peer Gynt Loipe

The Peer Gynt Loipe is a long-distance ski-trail that runs high along the west flank of Gudbrandsdalen, a wide valley that starts near Oslo and then runs north to Lillehammer and beyond.

The trail itself extends from the little settlement at Dalseter to the ski-resort at Skeikampen. It goes through an area known as the Peer Gynt Ski Region. Up here the cross-country skiing is very good, with over 600km of track. And there are good hotels, which are usually willing to accept bookings for just one or two nights – at least, outside the high season weeks in February and at Easter.

The Peer Gynt Loipe links together some of these hotels. Its total length is about 60km. The entire distance is tracked by grooming machines, so you can use light skis without metal edges.

This combination of well-maintained tracks, good accommodation, high altitude and snow security makes the Peer Gynt a good choice for fit and capable skiers.

SKIING ITINERARY

You start from one of the hotels at Dalseter, at 880m altitude and right at the head of the Espedalen valley.

You can get there by public bus from Lillehammer (which is reached by train from Oslo Gardermoen airport). Alternatively you can stay on the train beyond Lillehammer, to Vinstra, and take a pre-arranged hotel car to Dalseter, a 35km drive.

The tour can be broken down into the following stages.

The first is an 18km stretch from Dalseter to Fefor. The trail climbs steadily to 1030m, makes a long descent and then winds easily over to Fefor. At Fefor there is a hotel.

The next stage goes to Gala-Wadahl. The distance is 10-15km, depending on which of these neighbouring villages you aim for. Each has a hotel. Initially the trail undulates through forest, but then drops down to the lake Galavatn. After following the lake shore for a couple of kilometres it climbs steadily up to Gala. The continuation to Wadahl is flatter.

The next stage, to Lauvasen, is less than 10km and the track is flat and easy. At Lauvasen there is a mountain hotel with rooms in the lodge or in adjacent cabins.

The final stage, from Lauvasen to Skeikampen is a long one, about 25km. The trail mostly keeps to a height of about 1000 metres – above the tree line. Finally it comes steeply down to the bustling resort of Skeikampen where there is a hotel. From there you can take a bus down to Lillehammer.

Of course it’s possible to combine some of the stages. A reasonably strong skier could consider doing it in three days, with stops in Dalseter, Fefor and Lauvasen. I once did it in two days, overnighting at Lauvasen.

LOGISTICS

Some travel companies offer a supported tour along the Peer Gynt Loipe. They make a relaxing week of it, with a few extra side-loops and with baggage transfers between the overnight stops so that you can ski with just a light pack.

But it’s easy to make your own arrangements, especially if you are prepared to travel light and carry all your kit in a rucksack. (You can leave your main bags at left-luggage at Gardermoen airport or at Oslo rail station.)

It is also possible, although rather expensive, to have your baggage transported between the hotels. You need to set this up with the individual hotels at the time of booking.

Alternatively, you could leave your main bags at Dalseter and return there after the tour, taking buses via Lillehammer.