Preparing for Altitude Exposure.
A few tips on how to get used to altitude on your arrival.
Zermatt is famous for being snow guaranteed, the main reasons for that it being damn cold and at high altitude.
Town is at 1.650 meters and Taesh is at 1.449. The ski area starts from town but the majority of the slopes are well above 2.500 meters.
As well, exams in November are run only on the glacier, at a hight between 3.000 and 3.880 meters. The highest in Europe.
So, a few pointers on how to deal with altitude!
– Train aerobic endurance
Skiing is anaerobic but good aerobic skills are fundamental to help a quicker recovery. It needs to be trained before it’s needed, once already in resort is too late! So do go for a run or a cycle even closer to the season, it will be beneficial!
– Drink water
Keep yourself hydrated in order to help the body performance and recover. Don’t leave the house in the morning without at least a pint of water already drunken.
I said water, not sugary drinks…
– Avoid smoke and coffee
Specially in the first 10 days. The body adapts to the high altitude by creating new blood cells which is a response to a shortage of oxygen in the system. Smoking aggravates the shortage and will slow down the blood transformation.
Caffeine acts as a vasoconstrictor, shrinking the size of the veins and increasing blood pressure. That, combined with the natural rise in blood pressure at altitude, could lead to powerfull headaches.
Even a reduction of daily coffees (going from 3 a day to 1 or 2, for example) could be enough in most cases.
– Avoid alcool
Alcool digestion requires energy and effort from the body. Effort that could be use to help your muscle recover rather than detoxicate the liver and other organs.
At least for the first 10 days!
– Help vasodilatation
The opposite of the caffeine effect, veins increase their size and lower the blood pressure. Hot bath in the evening, rest at lower altitude, spicy food (not fat, spicy!).
Avoid fat and difficult to digest foods.
On the hill: if you are well fed in the early morning and in the afternoon/evening after skiing, you actually don’t need big portions at lunch!
Garlic, even though pretty rough socially, can be of great help to manage blood pressure.
If you think you might struggle with altitude, it could be a good thing to eat more of it once closer to departure, or go for natural pills supplements. From 10 days before departure to 2 weeks after arrival, every day. Vit C also helps general circulation and implement the garlic effects.
Not a fan of taking drugs “just in case”. Though, a common practice is to carry aspirine or paracetamol with you (in a warm and dry pocket, drugs are temperature sensitive).
Paracetamol lowers the blood pressure, decreasing the intensity of headhaches.
Aspirire thins the blood, helping carrying oxygen around.
If you have suffered of altitude sickness before it could be a good idea to carry one or both of these (just one single dose each). To be taken only once the suffering starts, not as a prevention. Soluble aspirine gets to the blood stream in less than 20 min. Paracetamol in less than 40 min.
– Don’t hold it
Silly to hear maybe but, all the liquids in the body contribute to internal pressure. If you hold your pee, the blood pressure will eventually rise. You can drop the pressure instantly just by going to the toilet.
Go when you can, even if you don’t feel the need that much.
Active Recover Sessions from Altitude Exposure
Go for 20-40 minutes walk on flat or moderate uphills, in order to flush the blood and help oxygenate tissues. Simple but efficient! Low altitude (1600 or below) is required. For more recovery techniques look here.
All the above are intended to be of some help in case of need, not terrorism.
If you never had headhaches on the mountains or general altitude sickness chances are you will not start having them now.
In life there is always a first time though (also for your future clients) so it thought it could have been usefull to list a few solutions/preventions ideas.
If you know of more please let me know, i’ll add them!