Hit the heights, skip the altitude sickness
Forget Atkins, the Zone, and South Beach. I lost five pounds in eight days on the Altitude Diet. Of course, there are side effects: headache, sleeplessness, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, chills, and shortness of breath.
While most folks, even if they take no precautions, feel few symptoms of altitude sickness at elevations higher than 6,000 feet, others can do everything right and still end up sick. I’m one of them.
The best strategy for averting altitude sickness is to skip vacationing at elevations that trigger it. Here are my favorite western resorts where the altitudinally challenged can score big mountain skiing without the big mountain heights.
From Salt Lake it is an easy commute to the Big Cottonwood Canyon (Brighton and Solitude) and Little Cottonwood Canyon (Alta and Snowbird) resorts. The interchangeable Ski Salt Lake Super Pass is valid at all four. The pass provides significant savings, but here’s a steal: Book a four-day, four-night package at a participating property by Dec. 15, and the fourth day of skiing/riding and the fourth night of lodging are free. It gets better: The pass includes public transportation.
Ogden is another choice for skiers and riders. About a half-hour up the canyon are Snowbasin, a gold-plated resort that hosted the 2002 Olympic downhill, and Powder Mountain, the largest single-mountain ski area in North America. They’re not the most convenient resorts, but that means they are rarely crowded. Ski Salt Lake, 800-541-4955 www.visitsaltlake.com; Ogden, 866-867-8824, www.ogden.travel
Sun Valley’s Bald Mountain is popular with advanced skiers. Whether buffed or bumped, the trails dropping down Baldy’s 3,400-foot vertical retain a consistent, thigh-burning pitch. Open throttle on a groomer, and it can seem as if takeoff is imminent. Baldy’s green circle trails would be blue squares at most other resorts, but Dollar Mountain fills the beginner void. 800-635-4150, www.sunvalley.com
Norquay, with a 1,650-foot vertical and fewer than 200 skiable acres, has virtually no midweek lines but it does have meticulously groomed intermediate trails on one peak and true double-diamond steeps on the other.
Getting to Sunshine is easy: A gondola climbs nearly 1,650 feet from the parking lot to an above-treeline village and more than 3,300 acres of terrain.
Still not big enough? Lake Louise, Canada’s second largest ski area with 4,200 acres, awaits. This sprawling, multi-peak resort can keep any skier or rider happy. 877-754-7080, www.skibig3.com
The 2010 Winter Olympics are scheduled here Feb. 12-28. Whistler is hosting 63 alpine skiing, sliding, and Nordic events, but even during the games, less than 10 percent of Whistler Mountain’s terrain will be closed. 866-218-9690, www.whistlerblackcomb.com
Hilary Nangle can be reached at email@example.com.