Anyone at ASO Mammoth will tell you that Mammoth Mountain is one of the best places to ski and snowboard in the world, but you don’t get over 11 feet of snow in the middle of January and 3,500 acres of skiable terrain without a little bit of a tradeoff.
It doesn’t matter where you are at Mammoth, you’re going to have to deal with high altitude. Mammoth Lakes alone rests at over a mile above sea level, and if you’re spending anytime on the mountain itself the base starts at 9,000 feet with the summit topping off at 11,053 feet above sea level. Don’t miss a second of fun due to altitude sickness. Check out our guide to preventing altitude sickness!
Know Your Symptoms
The first step in preventing altitude sickness is recognizing it. At high altitudes your body is getting less oxygen which not only makes strenuous activity more difficult but also means your body takes longer to recover. The results are headaches, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, general exhaustion, and even vomiting.
If you feel any of these symptoms, get ahead of the altitude and take extra steps to hydrate yourself and rest your body.
Everything in Moderation
One of the simplest but most effective methods to preventing altitude sickness is to hydrate. Drinking water before bed and throughout the day is a good place to start, but many people still don’t drink enough water to make up for the physical strain they’re putting on their body while on the mountain. You may be tempted to ride or ski as much as possible while at Mammoth, but if you’re planning on riding for more than a day or two then you need to moderate the strain you put on your body so you can enjoy yourself the entire time.
Another important thing to moderate is how much alcohol you drink. Alcohol dehydrates your body already, but at high altitudes the effects are much stronger. While you should never mix alcohol and an activity like skiing or snowboarding, just one drink during your lunch break while riding could bring on altitude sickness due to the combination of dehydration and physical activity.
Take Time to Acclimate
It’s generally suggested to spend one day resting before doing any physical activity so your body can tune itself to the new altitude.
If possible, take time before you hit the mountain to relax and acclimate so you will be able to ride for longer later on. There is plenty to do in Mammoth Lakes, so whether you’re looking to drive around and do some sightseeing or just want to do a little shopping, don’t be afraid to take a day away from the mountain early in your trip.
Don’t Forget About the Sun
The most obvious effects are sickness and exhaustion, but don’t forget that higher altitudes also mean a stronger sun.
Due to thinner air the sun’s rays are much stronger at high altitudes, so if you want to avoid sunburns you need to cover up and use sunscreen, especially when on the mountain. Snow naturally reflects light, so even though it’s beautiful all the snow at Mammoth Mountain is working against you.
Don’t forget to care for your sight too, as the strong light can also burn the surface of your eye. Always have a pair of UV sunglasses or goggles on hand to protect your eyes. Don’t be fooled by cold air or overcast skies, the sun is a serious concern while at Mammoth so prepare accordingly. If you need find you need a new set of UV goggles, ski or snowboard rentals, or just need a place to stop by while you acclimate, then stop by ASO Mammoth while in town!