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What First Time Visitors Need to Know about High Altitude Climates
Posted by admin | Tuesday, January 29, 2019
travel at high altitude
Aside from the usual challenges of altitude sickness, Breck’s high altitude climate can pose other challenges that can catch first time vacationers unprepared. A first-time visit to the mountains can be magical, as long as you are ready for everything a high-altitude climate has to offer.

Protection from the Sun

The sun is intense any time of year. With a thinner atmosphere at high altitudes there is very little between your skin and the UV rays of the sun. According to Healthy Travel, “If you are hiking at 8,500 feet, you are exposed to almost 60% more sun than you would be at the beach." You should plan to wear protective clothing. Lightweight, long sleeves and a wide brim hat are great tools to keep the sun off in the summer. In the winter, be sure to wear goggles or sunglasses. In any season, you should apply sunscreen to exposed skin. Reapply after a few hours, or if you have been sweating.

Hydrate

The air is also very dry in high altitudes. Water evaporates quickly. This means you can dehydrated quickly. Drink plenty of water, starting the day before you arrive. You will also benefit from lotion and chapstick. It can be challenging for your body to adjust to such a dry environment, so always keep a water bottle with you. If you are hiking, skiing, or participating in another adventure, plan to bring more water than you would normally need. Headaches often associated with high altitude can also be a result of dehydration. To avoid feeling groggy, limit your alcohol intake as well.

vacation at high altitude

Quickly Changing Weather

The weather can change very quickly at high altitudes. On a sunny day, passing cloud cover can lower the temperature significantly. In the summer, it is wise to carry a sweatshirt or jacket with you. In the winter, snowy weather can move in swiftly. Always dress in layers. One of the most important things to remember is that summer thunderstorms are common in the afternoon. It can be very dangerous to be caught on an exposed mountainside during a thunderstorm. When you are planning a long hike to a high elevation (especially above tree-line), plan to leave early in the morning. Then, you can reach the summit and be on your way down before there is any chance of lightning. In addition, always carry rain gear with you to stay warm and dry.

Cold Nights

The intensity of the sun results in warm days, but as the sun goes down, the atmosphere doesn’t hold in the heat. The nights can become very cold any time of year. In the summer, you may want to have a light hat, gloves, and a warm jacket if you plan to be out after dark. In the winter, put on an extra layer and plan for it to be much colder than it was during the day.

Stay Prepared

Cool, sunny days in the summer and comfortable snowy days on the slopes make the mountains an ideal year-round destination. A little preparation for the unique high-altitude climate will help you feel safe and comfortable. 
 
Photos courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office
 

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