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August 22, 2010

Avoid Altitude Sickness (h/t First Tracks Online)

This looks handy:

Salt Lake City, UT - If you're one of those folks who routinely suffer from altitude sickness, a tiny, convenient fingertip pulse oximeter from Brooks-Range Mountaineering may be just the ticket.

This $90 device, which weighs only 30g (1 oz.) without its two AAA batteries, measures pulse rate both digitally and via a bar graph, and more importantly, blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). It does so without drawing any blood by using light and a photodetector. Simply slip your finger into the device, wait a moment, and your pulse and blood oxygen are displayed on the device's LED readout. Power is conserved by shutting down automatically after eight seconds, but an indicator on the display notifies the user when it's time to change the batteries.

Not exactly a revolutionary gadget since doctors have been using these for years, but a hell of an idea for altitude sickness.

Worst skiing experience I have had was when Erich and I got altitude sickness at Wolf Creek after hiking Alberta Peak. The trip down was horrible. When I got to the bottom, I recovered enough to ski again almost immediately, but Erich was done for the day. I was not right the rest of the day, but I was able to see straight unlike him. The headache lasted a couple days.

However, that weekend was also one of the best experiences too and thankfully the altitude sickness happened at around 2PM on the last day there. It would suck to ruin an entire trip over it. This device may help.

But why pay $90 for it? Just steal it from your doctor's office, right?

Posted by Justin at August 22, 2010 01:44 PM


How does this help? If I'm skiing at over 9,000' and feeling light headed and nauseated, it's probably the altitude; I guess with this device I could be sure it's that and not just a bad bowl of chili.

I'd rather spend the dough on an oxygen tank. I'd really like that especially early in the season. I've heard you can adapt scuba gear -- does any know how to do that?

I see lots of kids with altitude sickness in class (I'm a ski instructor). Usually it's brought on by dehydration. A sports drink and short nap usually does the trick. Nine times out of ten they can return to class after sitting out a run or two.

At Deer Valley, my home mountain, ski patrol will give you a little oxygen if you're feeling poorly.

Posted by: M. Murphy at August 22, 2010 09:47 PM

That is a hell of a good point. I would say it probably doesn't help once you are already sick.

And you are right on--most of the problems are dehydration because most folks don't realize how much water you really need when you are skiing because people do not sweat when it is zero degrees out or anything.

So your question is what good does it do to know that you have altitude sickness as opposed to one of those "headaches" that my wife seems to get around 9:30 PM every night... =) You are gonna treat it exactly the same way. Lots of fluids and relax for a little bit. Drop down in altitude if you are up too high.

It appears to me that what I thought might be a good idea was really just a way to take an existing device, mark the price of it way up, and sell it to a bunch of douche skiers like me who waste money on worthless gadgets... Now if was an Android App that did it for $90 bucks, then we got something useful...

Posted by: Justin B at August 23, 2010 12:38 AM