This was actually written by: BLAINE
It is December 7th and one can safely say the season is in full swing. Many people have already logged multiple days on the hill while some are planning their upcoming first day.
The current high pressure system makes us all hopeful for some precipitation. However, a recent string of preventable injuries and illnesses has reminded us here at Ski Patrol that while water in the clouds is important, so is drinking water in the glass. Skiing can exacerbate and highlight many of the effects of dehydration, including altitude sickness, health and injury prevention, and body warmth.
Since Crystal Mountain is only two hours from Seattle, it is important to remind ourselves that it is indeed a high altitude environment. In the two hour drive from Seattle, fifteen minutes of chairlift rides and forty five minute hike to the top of the King, a person has gained roughly 7,000 feet of elevation. This altitude change can cause a person to feel headaches, nausea, lethargy, and increased fatigue. One of the best ways to prevent these symptoms is to arrive at Crystal fully hydrated. Hydrated blood is more capable of carrying oxygen, which helps prevent altitude related sicknesses.
Hydration also helps keep bodies healthy. On the mountain this health is best exhibited as injury prevention. Some of the most common injuries we see on the mountain are sprains and strains, both of which are best prevented by having muscles fully saturated and hydrated. Cramping is also a common occurrence on the mountain. Snowboarders come down to us with cramping calves and skiers most often with cramping quads. Good fitness helps prevent this, but so does proper hydration.
The temperature outside the Patrol Room is currently 13 degrees Fahrenheit. This cold weather has made our groomed runs awesome and allowed sunny days without any loss of snow base. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to enjoy these nice days when fingers and toes are chronically cold. Being properly hydrated is an important element to stay warm.
At the extreme end of the continuum, one of the primary contributors to frostbite is dehydration. When the body is low of fluids, it compensates by keeping the majority of the blood in the core (chest, abdomen, ect.) and the brain. As a result, blood flow is reduced to the extremities. This effect of dehydration is exacerbated by tight boots and gloves which themselves make circulation to fingers and toes more difficult. Throw some cold temps into this mix and the results can be quite painful. Although when we are cold a glass of water is the last thing we want, it is important to remember the importance of that water to keeping us warm.
Proper gear, clothing and basic level of fitness obviously are big contributors to having an enjoyable day on the mountain. As illustrated above, one other main participant is water. Of course, when it condenses and freezes as snow it is easy to appreciate. But just as important, when an adequate amount of water is drank, it allows our bodies to better adapt to the cold and high elevation environment and helps prevent trips to the Ski Patrol Aid Room.