How to Cope at Elevation in Breckenridge

Prepare yourself for the elevation in Breckenridge with these strategies for skiing at high altitude.

Posted on July 10, 2023

Snowboarders slash powder on Peak 6 at Breck

It doesn’t matter if you run 10 miles a day or have an impeccable track record of skiing from open to close without a break. The altitude can still get to you. Because of the lower oxygen concentrations at Breckenridge elevation there is a decrease in the amount of oxygen delivered to the muscles. This may make you feel more tired more quickly and physical activity may feel more difficult.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Breckenridge base elevation is 9,600 ft. (2,926 meters). That's about twice the elevation of Denver, Colorado and the resort's peaks are much higher.

  • Peak 8 base area is at 9950 ft. (3,032 meters)
  • The Colorado Chair at mid mountain on Peak 8 is 11,059 ft. (3,370 meters)
  • The Imperial SuperChair (North America’s highest chairlift) is at 12,840 ft. (3,913 meters)
  • The summit elevation of Breckenridge Resort is 12,998 ft (3,963 meters).

The resort is significantly higher than most places in the U.S and the air is even thinner at the top of the mountain, where you may find yourself gasping it in Darth Vader-style.  

Here’s what to know about the elevation in Breckenridge and some strategies for skiing at high altitude.  


What is Altitude Sickness?  

Altitude sickness is a real illness that can strike anyone regardless of age or fitness level. It happens when you gain elevation too quickly, like when you arrive from a lower area in Colorado up to Breckenridge. Thankfully, most cases of altitude sickness are mild and can be avoided with some simple strategies.  

The symptoms of altitude sickness can be made worse by jet lag or inadequate sleep. Some people have described the illness as feeling like a flu or hangover. Common altitude sickness signs that you should be on the lookout for include: 
  • Shortness of breath  
  • Rapid pulse 
  • Fatigue 
  • Headache 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Nausea 


Strategies to Manage Being at Altitude 

Staying back at the lodge while your friends are hitting the slopes is just no fun. These are several ways to help manage and avoid altitude sickness in Breckenridge.      

Enter High Altitudes Slowly  

If possible, spend a night or two in Denver before you head up to Breckenridge to give your body a chance to get acclimated. Drink plenty of fluids and rest while you're acclimating. If you can't stay in Denver for a few days, start your ski journey on the lower parts of the mountain peaks 7 and 9 and slowly make your way up on ensuing days. It might be tempting, but don't launch into Imperial Bowl on your first day in Breck. 

Stay Hydrated 

High altitudes can take a toll on your body's overall hydration levels. While you're in Breck, you'll need to drink about a liter more water per day than you usually would. Don't consume more than four liters of water per day at Breck though — overhydration can dilute your body's sodium levels and cause serious health problems. 

Avoid Excess Alcohol 

There's nothing wrong with celebrating a long day on the slopes with an aprés cocktail or two but be careful not to overdo it. Alcohol thins your blood and decreases blood oxygen levels and at high elevations, you need all the oxygen you can get to feel better.       

Lighten Up on Caffeine 

Alcoholic beverages aren't the only ones you should drink in moderation while at high elevations. You should also be careful with caffeinated beverages like coffee, tea, and some sodas. Caffeine can exacerbate dehydration and leave you feeling unwell. Stick with one cup of coffee in the morning and enjoy an alternative like herbal tea for the rest of the day.  

Eat a Full Breakfast 

The combination of hunger and high altitude can be downright nauseating. That's why it's so important to eat a balanced breakfast every morning when you're in Breckenridge. Aim for a healthy meal with lean proteins, low sodium, and plenty of healthy carbs, and eat snacks throughout the day to help keep nausea and lightheadedness at bay. 

Try a Breath of Oxygen 

If you do begin experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness, don’t let it ruin your trip. There's another powerful remedy! The number one treatment for altitude sickness is simply getting more oxygen. 

Going to a lower elevation like Denver is one way to get more oxygen, but it also interrupts your vacation. You can get back on the slopes more quickly by heading to Breckenridge's local oxygen bar. The O2 Lounge, located in Cima Mal on the south end of Main Street, offers in-store oxygen sessions and take-home tank rentals. They serve delicious smoothies and coffees too.  

AlpinAire Healthcare, located on Airport Road, also specializes in oxygen services. Their staff have experience treating altitude sickness and can help find the best solution for you. You'll be amazed at how much better a little bit of oxygen makes you feel.  

Check In with Your Doctor Before You Head Out 

If you live at a relatively low altitude or have a pre-existing health issue like a heart condition, talk to your doctor about how you can adjust to higher altitudes. They might suggest changes      to your daily routine or offer nutrition tips for feeling your best while at a higher elevation. In rare cases, a doctor may prescribe medication to help you cope with altitude changes. 

Go for the Carbs  

You might be used to limiting your carb intake, but you should actually prioritize eating carb-rich snacks while at Breck. They provide essential energy for your body and offer the calories it needs to function at high altitudes. Snacks like whole-wheat crackers and granola bars are great choices.  

Get a Good Night's Rest 

Resting after a long day on the slopes is essential when you're at a high elevation like Breckenridge. It helps your body regenerate and gives you the energy you need to breathe freely at a higher elevation. But, unfortunately, altitude sickness can also trigger sleeping problems that make it hard to get a full night's rest.  

If you're suffering from sudden insomnia, try listening to a guided meditation or doing a relaxing stretching routine. Read a book that will relax you and help you fall asleep. Just be careful if you plan to take sleep medications while at Breck. Your body may react to them differently at higher elevations, so be sure to check with your doctor before traveling if you take prescription sleep meds.   


Know When to Get Medical Attention  

Most people who suffer from altitude sickness will have minor symptoms that cause no threat to overall health. However, some people suffer from severe altitude sickness and need immediate medical attention. You should head to the emergency room if you: 
  • Have coughing that won't stop 
  • Feel out of breath even when resting 
  • Experience tightness or congestion in your chest 
  • Have trouble walking or standing up  
  • Feel confused or disoriented 
  • Have blurry or double vision  
  • Your skin turns very pale, blue, or purple 


Enjoy a high-elevation getaway in Breckenridge 

Now that you have a few tips to prepare for the altitude, come and experience the amazing skiing and charming historic town of Breckenridge. With stunning scenery, endless activities, and friendly locals, Breckenridge is the perfect place to create memories that will last a lifetime. Book your stay today and experience a high-altitude adventure.