The Effects of Altitude on Visitors

Aspen and Snowmass Village are approximately 8,000 feet in elevation. If you’re skiing or hiking, you may ascend another 3,000 – 4,000 feet. There is less oxygen and less humidity available to you than at sea level, and a variety of symptoms can result. For most people, the minor symptoms of altitude will disappear as your body adjusts. This may take a few days or a few weeks.

Symptoms of altitude sickness

The most common symptoms of altitude sickness include:
Nausea and vomiting
Shortness of breath
Fast heartbeat
Nasal congestion

Several of the above symptoms can also be caused by heart disease. It is best to be checked by a physician. More serious symptoms of altitude sickness -- such as worsening shortness of breath, increased cough, and fluid in the lungs -- can also occur and require medical attention.

How to minimize your symptoms

  • Take it easy for the first day or so. Physical exertion will affect your response to altitude.
  • Eat lightly, drink plenty of liquids, and avoid alcohol. Alcohol aggravates high altitude symptoms. Because you are prone to dehydration and constipation at altitude, drink lots of water and don’t overeat.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Overexertion and lack of sleep can result in more severe and persistent altitude symptoms.
  • Listen to your body. The symptoms noted above are a warning to decrease your activity and protect yourself. If your symptoms persist or worry you, visit Aspen Valley Hospital.

0401 Castle Creek Road
Aspen, CO 81611

Contact AVH