Altitude Adjustment

The town of Crested Butte is at 9000 feet, and the altitude can have an effect on people. This usually seems to come as a result of dehydration, which sneaks up on you. You may not be particularly thirsty, but if you get headaches etc. it is usually the result of your cells getting dehydrated. Although you can often drink a glass of water for temporary relief, I find the real solution is to begin to saturate your cells before you get up to altitude. This means making a concerted effort to begin drinking lots of water, ideally several days before you arrive, since it takes your cells awhile to absorb it. If you're driving, get a gallon of water in Denver and start drinking it on the drive up. Although this eventually causes a lot of pitstops, it saves you from unpleasantness later. Once you're in CB, keep drinking more than you normally do because the altitude tends to dry you out.

If you do get altitude effects, they often disappear in the first 24 hours. Take it easy for the first 2-3 days in terms of physical activity. We'll have some long breaks during the days so if you find you need to take naps you'll have time to recover.

Tips and Tricks

  • Pre-hydrate your cells before you begin traveling.
  • Carry a couple of Ibuprofen in your pocket; at the first sign of a headache pop one or both. Don't wait -- coping early can make a big difference.
  • The Mountain Earth health food store (across from Camp4 Coffee) carries Accli-mate which can help adjust to altitude.
  • One of the most difficult adjustments is often the nasal passages. Consider getting and learning to use a Neti Pot¬†before you come. These can produce instant relief. Mountain Earth usually carries a few of these but bringing your own makes it a sure thing.
  • It can also help to put pure body oil (such as almond or apricot kernel) on your little finger and coat the inside of your nostrils to help keep your nasal passages from drying up.
  • Sometimes the dryness can cause blocked sinuses; Sudafed taken at the earliest signs of this will usually take care of the problem (if you wait, however, it can require Afrin instead).
  • Sometimes the altitude can affect your gut. A good solution is acidophilus pills such as these "pearl" type, which don't require refrigeration and so travel well (there are several different kinds available; I just showed that one as an example). During altitude adjustment it can help to take them twice as often as recommended.¬†Also fiber (Metamucil) often helps.
  • Food: Altitude can confuse your hunger mechanism. You might discover that you feel really tired and worn out, then if you eat something you'll suddenly feel a lot better and get a burst of energy. Because of this it's important to eat regularly, possibly more often than you usually do with small snacks and the like.
  • Alcohol: It dehydrates you, so avoid or minimize.
  • Medical Marijuana: There are three medical marijuana dispensaries in Crested Butte, but you must have a Colorado medical marijuana card to participate. I don't have any information on whether it helps or hinders altitude adjustment, but it can dehydrate so you'll want to redouble your water-drinking efforts.
  • Sunscreen: Some people come here and think that they're going to get a tan. You won't. You'll get burned. There is less atmosphere between here and the sun, and we wear sunscreen all the time. The best thing to bring is something like a combination sunscreen/moisturizer, and put it on when you get out of the shower. Trust me: wear sunscreen. It's not worth getting burned. (Even if you avoid the sun, stay indoors almost all the time and cover up thoroughly when you're outside, remember to cover or sunscreen the tops of your ears. They can get crispy.)