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

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

    £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Attwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'