Mammoth Altitude Sickness: Complete Guide & 7 Tips To Avoid It

Mammoth Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness is one of the most common ailments among people who visit Mammoth Lakes as many come from sea level. With years of experience in altitude sickness, we'll share everything you need to know about Mammoth altitude and our best tips how to avoid Mammoth altitude sickness.

Mammoth Altitude

Mammoth altitude starts at 7,953 feet in the town, and goes up from there. Mammoth Mountain is known as the highest ski resort in California, reaching 11,053 feet high.

  • Mammoth Lakes altitude - 7,953 ft (2,424 m)
  • Mammoth Mountain base lodge altitude - 8921 ft (2719 m)
  • Mammoth Mountain ski summit - 11,053 ft (3,369 m)

Mammoth Mountain is one of the largest and longest ski resorts in the United States, located in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range of California. Although Vail has Mammoth beat in skiable acreage and total trails, not many ski resorts get close to the size of Mammoth.

In addition to skiing and snowboarding, Mammoth Mountain offers a wide range of winter activities, such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and ice skating. The resort also has a lively après-ski scene, with numerous bars, restaurants, and nightlife options to enjoy after a day on the slopes. Beyond winter sports, Mammoth also offers plenty of outdoor activities in the summer months — including hiking, mountain biking, fishing, and golfing. The area's stunning natural beauty, with its towering mountains, crystal-clear lakes, and majestic forests, is also a big draw for visitors.

Some of its many high altitude hikes include Thousand Island Lake at 9,833 feet,  Convict Lake Loop at 7,620 feet, and Devils Postpile & Rainbow Falls at 7,500 feet.

Whether visiting Mammoth or one of its many surrounding mountains, you should take precautions for altitude sickness.

Can You Get Altitude Sickness In Mammoth?

If you're wondering do people get altitude sickness at Mammoth, yes they do.

According to science, altitude sickness or acute mountain sickness can start as low as 5,000 feet, such as in Denver.⁹ With Mammoth Mountain at much higher altitudes reaching 7,953 to 11,053 feet high, the risk of altitude sickness is very high and even more so for anyone coming from sea level.

How Common Is Altitude Sickness In Mammoth?

It's estimated that up to 50% of people past 10,000 feet will experience altitude sickness. Based Mammoth Mountain's high altitudes, this would indicate it's very common to experience altitude sickness.

How High Is The Top Of Mammoth?

The summit of Mammoth Mountain reaches an altitude of 11,053 above sea level. This puts Mammoth Mountain Ski Area in the top 30 highest resorts in North America.⁸

Some visitors to Mammoth Lakes may find it hard to breathe due to the high altitude, it's one symptom of altitude sickness.

With an elevation starting at 7,953 feet, there's oxygen compared to lower elevations. Based on Mammoth's range in altitudes, there can be anywhere between 4% and 7% less oxygen compared to sea level.¹⁰

7 Tips To Avoid Mammoth Altitude Sickness

Between world class skiing, outdoor activities, and natural beauty — Mammoth Mountain is a popular destination for both visitors around the world and in California like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

With the trip comes a high chance of altitude sickness, which can completely ruin the Mammoth experience. Being based out of Colorado, we have years experience with high altitudes and will share our best tips.

Here's 7 tips to avoid Mammoth Altitude Sickness:

1. Acclimate gradually

Give your body time to adjust to the high altitude by spending a day or two in town at Mammoth before ascending to higher heights.
If you go too high too fast, the body has no time to adjust altitude sickness can hit you faster. For example, if skiing Mammoth Mountain, wait a few days or until you're acclimated before you ski the high elevations at 11,053 feet.

2. Stay Hydrated

Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can exacerbate the symptoms of altitude sickness.

Wilderness Medical Society estimates that you lose water at high altitude at twice the speed than at sea level.¹¹ Make sure to drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water or more, as most experts recommend.

TIP: To boost hydration, add sea salt (electrolytes) to your food or water, and take Zaca hydration chewable tablets to help enhance water absorption.

3. Limit alcohol

Not only is alcohol a diuretic that can lead to dehydration, its also known to lessen sleep question, and even lower blood oxygen saturation.¹³

Due to these factors, alcohol could make your altitude adjustment harder or even add hangover symptoms to it like headache and nausea. It's best to avoid or limit alcohol a few days until you're acclimated.

4. Take It Easy

Avoid strenuous exercise and take it easy the first few days at Mammoth Mountain and Lakes.

Whether skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, or mountain biking — make sure you're clear of any altitude sickness symptoms before being very active. In addition, if you're breathing heavy or feel fatigued, take consistent breaks to help your body adjust.

5. Consider Altitude Sickness Medication

Altitude sickness tablets are always an option. Dexamethasone and Acetazolamide are prescription altitude drugs, and Ibuprofen is an over-the-counter drug you can find at places like Walgreens.

Consult with your doctor to see if this is an appropriate option for you.

6. Get Plenty Of Sleep

Sleep has been found to increase blood flow and oxygen and be key for recovery.¹² This is vital for your body to adjust and rejuvenate, try to get at least 7-9 hours of sleep a night.

To maximize your sleep and circadian rhythm, get ample sunlight at daytime and sleep in complete darkness at night.

7. Replenish Antioxidants

High altitudes have been found to cause oxidative stress and free radical damage in your body.¹⁴ Supplementing antioxidants are shown to be effective.¹⁶

Specifically glutathione, a master antioxidant, was shown to deplete by 45% at high elevations.¹⁵ You can replenish antioxidants by taking glutathione to revitalize your body.

In conclusion, follow these 7 steps to help avoid Mammoth Altitude Sickness — including acclimating gradually, staying hydrated, limiting alcohol, taking it easy, considering altitude sickness medication, getting plenty of sleep, and replenishing antioxidants.

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1. Mammoth Mountain Ski Area Elevation
2. Mammoth Mountain Main Lodge Elevation
3. Mammoth Mountain High Altitude Tips
4. Mammoth Mountain Elevation
5. Thousand Island Lake Elevation
6. Convict Lake Elevation
7. Devils Postpile Elevation
8. Comparison Of North American Ski Resorts And Elevations
9. High-altitude illness (including mountain sickness)
10. Oxygen Levels at Altitude
11. Why Do You Need to Drink a Lot of Water at a High Altitude?
12. Sleep: The Secret Ingredient of Injury Recovery
13. Effects of Alcohol
14. High altitude and oxidative stress
15. Effect of high altitude (7,620 m) exposure on glutathione
16. Oxidative Stress and Diseases Associated with High-Altitude Exposure