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JET LAG & ALTITUDE - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Sunday March 11, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

They can impact significantly on a North America ski trip. On your return jet lag tends to kick in worse. However, there are ways to minimise the impact. NEW

They are the two aspects of a ski trip across the Pond that are barely mentioned in the ski brochures, and certainly not highlighted.

But on arrival in the Rockies you will have changed your watch back 7 or 8 hours.

You will need to try to stay awake on arrival, but you will probably still wake up at 4am for the first night or two.

The lack of sleep may then affect your ski day as some of it will be spent in a bit of a haze.

My advice is try to get a bit of sleep on the plane on the way over, stay up to at least 10pm on the first night, but no later than midnight.

Why no later than midnight?

Some brave it on to 1am and beyond, then wake up at 4am anyway.

They might as well have put a couple of hours sleep in the bag earlier.

Have a drink or two of the alcoholic kind, but do not over do it - jet leg and hangovers do not mix well.

I speak from experience.

In my opinion there is no point in going across the Pond for a week as the first few days will be affected by jet lag.

Take a 10-day holiday to get the most out of the experience.

And then there is the altitude.

Most resorts in the USA, less so Canada, are higher than in the Alps and the thinner air is noticeable.

By day you may be short of breath and at night find breathing difficult.

The resorts in Colorado are some of the highest:

  • Copper: 2,995m
  • Breckenridge: 2,925m
  • Steamboat: 2,105m
  • Winter Park: 2,745m
  • Vail: 2,500m

This means air will be thinner.

In the Alps the highest resort is Val Thorens in France that sits at 2,300m.

The majority of main ski resorts in the Alps are between 1,000m and 1,500m.

In some of the high resorts in North America canned oxygen is sold in the shops:

At altitude in the USAAt altitude in the USA
















Whether it works or not I have no idea.

At altitude in the USAAt altitude in the USA
















In Breckenridge the UK operator Skiworld offers advice in its welcome pack:

Altitude adviceAltitude advice
















I have just been in Breckenridge with Skiworld.

While in the centre of town there is an oxygen bar.

At altitude in the USAAt altitude in the USA
















And some hotels even offer supplementary oxygen in the lobby:

At altitude in the USAAt altitude in the USA
















At altitude in the USAAt altitude in the USA
















One device that counters the dryness of the air in your bedroom is a humidifier.

It pumps steam (moisture) in to the air and they really do work.

If there isn't one in your room then ask for one and I also fill up the bath and basin with hot water - every little helps.

When I fly into Denver to head to the resorts of Colorado I try to spend at least one night in the city.

It helps with acclimatisation - Denver is known as the mile-high city and is at an altitude of 1,600m.

It is also a fabulous city in its own right - one of the fastest growing in the USA - and well worth a short visit.

Once in resort then do things slowly.

Whether it is climbing stairs, walking with ski gear on or simply walking around town.

It may not look it but you will generally be much higher than Europe.

PlanetSKI's chief reporter, Jane Peel, has also been in Colorado recently.

"Despite the advice of James I did go to Colorado for only one week. I went straight to Copper Mountain (2,995m) from the airport, and did a short hike up to 3,700 metres the next day. The altitude made the exercise even more exhausting than usual so I wouldn't recommend overdoing it in the early days'" said Jane.

"As far as jet lag is concerned, in one week I did not sleep through the night once, generally waking about around 1am, 3am and 5am.

"For the second half of the trip I had a humidifier which made a bit of a difference. I was also careful to drink lots of water and not overindulge in alcohol.

"It's definitely tough but I would say worth the effort. I do agree that, if you can, you should try to make your trip at least 10 days' long."

Feeling the altitudeFeeling the altitude
















See here for Jane's recent article from Copper.

And then there is the return to the UK.

For most people jet lag is worse coming back to Europe.

You will likely be wanting to fall asleep when you need to stay awake and unable to sleep when you want to be catching your Zzzzzzzs.....

This week I made a schoolboy error when I fell asleep at midnight (5pm bodyclock time).

I then woke up at 9am (2am bodyclock time) but  went straight back to sleep to awake at 1pm (6am bodyclock time).

13-hours sleep may sound fabulous - but not when you can't sleep the following night.

I went to bed at 11pm, couldn't sleep a wink so got up at 1am.

I eventually went back to bed at 4.15am and slept a few hours.

With a stonking headache.

The trick is to balance real time with bodyclock time.

4-days after getting back I have had my first proper night's sleep.

And I find myself back in an aircraft and heading to the mountains.

This time it is Switzerland.

Just 1 hour ahead.

Thank the Lord.

But will any of this put me off skiing in North America?

Not a bit of it.

I'm already planning a trip to California in April.

Heavenly: 1,900m Smile

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

For the Spirit of the Mountains - PlanetSKI: No1 for ski news

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