Ways to better skiing: Breathe more oxygen

As anyone who has skied in high-altitude resorts knows, the higher you go, the more difficult it is to breathe. During the day, any form of exercise - even walking - becomes hard work at altitude; and during the night, when breathing becomes shallower, simply sleeping can prove difficult. Doctors usually recommend increasing fluid intake and avoiding alcohol to alleviate the latter problem, but Copper Mountain in Colorado, where the lifts climb to 3,570m, has come up with a different solution: it is hoping to open an "oxygen bar" in the village centre. The resort's commercial director suggests that a hit of oxygen "should perk people up for the night".

As anyone who has skied in high-altitude resorts knows, the higher you go, the more difficult it is to breathe. During the day, any form of exercise - even walking - becomes hard work at altitude; and during the night, when breathing becomes shallower, simply sleeping can prove difficult. Doctors usually recommend increasing fluid intake and avoiding alcohol to alleviate the latter problem, but Copper Mountain in Colorado, where the lifts climb to 3,570m, has come up with a different solution: it is hoping to open an "oxygen bar" in the village centre. The resort's commercial director suggests that a hit of oxygen "should perk people up for the night".

Some skiers, including myself, suffer from acute mountain sickness (AMS) above 3,000m. This condition, which conspires to further reduce oxygen intake, causes flu-like symptoms that characteristically occur at the end of the day. The traditional treatment is a course of the prescription drug acetazolamide, taken before ascending to altitude. But research conducted on the 4,300m Pike's Peak in Colorado by the president of the International Society of Mountain Medicine (with a local physician and a professor of exercise science), and reported in the US magazine Outside, suggests that the herbal remedy ginkgo biloba also offers protection against AMS.

Derived from the leaves of the Chinese "maidenhair tree", gingko was given to half the climbers involved in the clinical trial, and only a third of them reported AMS symptoms (nausea, headaches, lack of appetite, dizziness), compared with 68 per cent of those who were given a placebo. These results are now being tested at Mauna Kea in Hawaii; this is a popular spot for AMS research, since most of the staff at its 4,200m-high radio telescope commute daily by car from sea level.

Apart from increasing oxygen intake at altitude, it appears that ginkgo offers other benefits to climbers and skiers. A helpful woman at the London herbalist Culpeper read out a long list of conditions it can alleviate, including vertigo, cold hands and feet, and hangovers. I forget the last one she mentioned. Was it "cerebral insufficiency in old age"?

Ginkgo is available by mail-order from Culpeper (01223 894054) at £1.95 for 50 grams

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Recruitment Genius: Processing Partner

    £15000 - £19200 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Processing Partner is require...

    Recruitment Genius: PPC Manager - SW London

    £34000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This specialist travel agent ba...

    Day In a Page

    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
    How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

    Time to play God

    Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
    MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

    MacGyver returns, but with a difference

    Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
    Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

    Tunnel renaissance

    Why cities are hiding roads underground
    'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

    Boys to men

    The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
    Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

    Crufts 2015

    Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
    10 best projectors

    How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

    Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
    Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

    Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

    Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
    Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

    Monaco: the making of Wenger

    Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

    Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

    Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

    In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

    This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
    'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

    Homage or plagiarism?

    'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
    Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

    Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

    A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower