O+ Articles

Oxygen Plus's Ultimate Ski & Snowboarding Guide

O+ Articles

Oxygen Plus's Ultimate Ski & Snowboarding Guide

The Top 5 Ski Resorts in North America

Bust out your long johns and pack your Oxygen Plus O+ Elevate Pack because we're hitting the slopes! Here's a list of the best ski resorts in North America to get your juices flowing for ski season.

  • Whistler-Blackcomb - Take the trip up north, trust us. Whistler-Blackcomb, located in Vancouver, is the largest resort in North America. Snowfall varies from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain, but you can count on an average about 450 inches of snowfall annually. What makes Whistler No. 1, though, is the social potential of this quaint ski town: you'll make friends with all kinds of fellow skiers and travelers when you hang out in Whistler.
  • Jackson Hole - Every diehard skier knows that Jackson Hole is where the pros hit the slopes. With an average annual snowfall of about 366 inches, you're pretty much guaranteed to get some powder time when you visit this Wyoming winter wonderland. Plus, with tons of options for slope-side lounging (a back-country yurt, anyone?) and a 4,000-foot aerial tram descent, you won't get bored at Jackson Hole.
  • Vail - Ideal for the winter sports enthusiast who's charmed not only by high snowfall but by decadent lodging and dining, Vail is a choice destination for high-stakes skiing this year. There's a reason why this resort town has become synonymous with American skiing, and it has something to do with the powdery consistency of the 350-plus inches of annual snowfall.
  • Steamboat - Another Colorado favorite, Steamboat Ski Resort is the perfect option for the whole family, whether you're traveling with beginners, pros or a mix of the two. With nearly 3,000 acres and 165 runs, Steamboat is not known for its powder-perfect snow, but for its variation in easy, intermediate and difficult slopes.
  • Deer Valley - Go to Deer Valley in Park City, Utah not only for the picturesque ski potential, but also for the delicious food. Deer Valley is a great choice for the exploratory traveler who wants to do a bit of skiing and a bit of dining thanks to the town's reputation as having the best on-mountain food anywhere. Dining options include their world-famous turkey chili.

The Ultimate Packing List for Your Next Big Ski Trip

Whether you're planning your first ride down the bunny hill or are prepping for the winter games, you don't want to forget to pack the most important skiing and snowboarding essentials. With the help of Oxygen Plus (O+), you'll be well on your way to your most memorable ski trip yet. Here's what to pack for your next winter adventure.

O+ Elevate Pack: Your Elevation Accelerator

Don't forget to pack your O+ Elevate Pack – or the sleeker O+ Skinni or compact O+ Mini - featuring pure recreational oxygen to help you energize and combat the physical effects that occur at high altitudes. Those ski lifts take you pretty high, and O+ portable oxygen can help reduce the effects of altitude, including feeling tired and short of breath, while boosting your athletic performance at high altitudes. Oxygen Plus fits neatly in your ski pack for access pre- and post-descent.

What to Pack

  • An O+ Elevate Pack, O+ Skinni or O+ Mini to help deter the effects of altitude
  • Skis
  • Ski poles
  • Snowboard
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • An insulated, waterproof winter jacket
  • Long johns or base layers
  • A long-sleeved or vest fleece layer
  • A neck warmer or balaclava
  • A hardy winter hat
  • Waterproof ski pants
  • Waterproof ski socks
  • Powder ribbons/straps
  • Ski or snowboarding boots
  • Hand warmers
  • Boot warmers
  • Glove liners
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Slippers for cozying up by the fire in the lodge
  • Your lift pass
  • A lift pass holder
  • An action camera and charger
  • A ski or board lock
  • A board leash
  • First aid essentials
  • Phone and charger
  • A memory card for backing up your footage

The Downside to Elevation: Altitude Sickness when Skiing

Altitude sickness is a temporary condition that can occur if you travel to altitudes around or above 8,000 feet. Those suffering from this condition may experience symptoms similar to a hangover, including headache, nausea, lethargy, dizziness, low appetite, insomnia, fever and fatigue (Altitude Sickness). If you're planning on hitting some of the highest peaks this season, you may experience some of these symptoms.

Because many North American ski resorts rise well above 8,000 feet, altitude sickness is a common occurrence on ski vacations, especially for travelers who normally reside at sea level. When your body adjusts to higher elevation, its experiencing a significant reduction in oxygen (Lomax).

Types of Altitude Sickness

WARNING: Oxygen Plus (O+) products are intended for recreational, intermittent use only and are not to be used as medical nor life-saving products. Any person with any type of health or medical condition should consult their physician prior to use of O+ products.

According to Altitude.org, there are three stages of altitude sickness. Mild altitude sickness is referred to as acute mountain sickness (AMS). This form is relatively manageable and easy to treat, but it should not be taken lightly. AMS may be a signal that your body is at risk of developing more serious forms of altitude sickness, which can be life threatening. The next two levels of altitude sickness can be extremely serious and fatal within hours.

High altitude pulmonary oedema (HAPE) is the next most serious form of altitude sickness, and it typically affects those who have spent two or three days at altitudes over 8,000 feet. Those with HAPE will experience extreme breathlessness, coughing and rapid heart rate. The most severe form of altitude sickness is called high altitude cerebral oedema (HACE), and should be treated immediately. HACE sufferers will experience severe headache, vomiting, lethargy, drowsiness and ultimately coma.

Avoiding Altitude Sickness while Skiing; Snowboarding

Although it's extremely important to be aware of altitude sickness risks while traveling at high elevations, if you're healthy, careful and aware of how you're feeling, you should be able to enjoy any ascent breathing easy. If you're a sea level dweller, ease into it the first couple days of your trip and slowly acclimatize at a moderate elevation. In addition to staying hydrated and oxygenated, professionals also recommend avoiding alcohol and hot tubs for the first few days of your trip.

Green Circle, Blue Square or Black Diamond? Slope Difficulty Defined

In order to ensure skiers and snowboarders enjoy a safe descent that's appropriate for their own experience level, ski resorts often rate slope difficulty (or piste). In North America, Australia and New Zealand, a color-shaped rating system is common to indicate the difficulty of any particular incline. Trail difficulty is measured by percent slope, and a 100 percent slope is a 45-degree angle. The National Ski Area's Association (NSAA) has developed a typical convention for North American slope difficulty ratings is as follows, although this is just a rule of thumb:

  • Beginner slopes (green circle symbol) are between 6 and 25 percent
  • Intermediate slopes (blue square symbol) are between 25 and 40 percent
  • Difficult slopes (black diamond symbol) are 40 percent and up

Generally speaking, resorts will rate their trails by their most difficult part, regardless of whether or not the majority of the trail is relatively easy. Resorts will also take into consideration factors like the width of the trail, sharp turns, the roughness of the terrain and the level of maintenance performed on the trail throughout the season.

Because individual resorts and ski areas use their own ratings, there is no universal slope rating system. Although they may be similar from one resort to another, it's important to note that one resort's difficult may be another resort's intermediate (Ryan). A double black diamond may be used to indicate an exceptionally difficult slope.

Examples of Trails

  • Green Circle - Some popular examples of a green circle trail include Breckenridge's Frontier Trail and Vail's Flap Jack Trail.
  • Blue Square - At Breckenridge, intermediate trails include the popular Briar Rose and Bonanza trails. In Aspen, popular trails like Buckhorn and Doodle earn the blue square designation.
  • Black Diamond - Check out the Double Jack and Burn trails at Breckenridge for a challenging descent. Crested Butte's Rambo Trail and Vail's Ridge of Bell are so challenging they earn the double black diamond symbol.

Citations

Altitude.org | Altitude Sickness. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016. Lomax, Becky. "How to Avoid OnTheSnow. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Ryan, Michael. "Ski Slope Symbols: Black Diamond, Green Circle, Orange Oval, and More." Outdoor Tech Blog. N.p., 2016. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Elevation, Skiing, Snowboarding, Travel