High Altitude Safety

Mammoth and the Eastern Sierra offers many recreational opportunities, including downhill skiing and snowboarding, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, fishing, rock climbing, golf, tennis, horseback riding, swimming and boating all in the majestic high mountains of the Eastern Sierra Nevada. The center of Mammoth Lakes town is approximately 7,900 ft. elevation above sea level, and the elevation at the base of Mammoth Mountain near the Main Lodge is 8,900 ft. Devils Postpile is at 7,500 feet. Visitors may experience some minor side effects due to Mammoth's high elevation. Here are a few tips and suggestions for staying healthy and enjoying your stay in the mountains.

When you first arrive acclimatize yourself for a period of time prior to beginning strenuous activities. At high elevations, the atmosphere is thinner and there is less oxygen and less humidity available to you than at sea level. This can result in a number of symptoms, such as muscle fatigue, insomnia, mild headaches, or slight shortness of breath. Sleep can also be disturbed. Our thin atmosphere filters out only a minimum of the suns ultraviolet "UV" rays and can result in severe sunburn. So be sure to take adequate precautions to protect your eyes and skin.
EAT LIGHTLY AND DRINK PLENTY OF LIQUID. You may tend to become dehydrated more quickly at high altitude than at sea level, so drink plenty of water and other fluids (8 to 10 glasses daily). You should also avoid drinking alcoholic beverages for the first 24 hours of your stay.
There's an old saying here in Mammoth, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes...it's sure to change." At this elevation, the weather can change quickly. Winter or summer, prolonged exposure to the elements can cause serious problems. Children are not always aware that they are becoming too cold. Parents should watch for red noses and red ears. If this occurs, bring the child in from the cold, remove wet clothes and warm the child and affected areas immediately. Moderation is the key word... take frequent breaks from the cold or heat.

It is wise to layer your clothes, no matter what the season. A t-shirt, wool sweater, nylon windbreaker with a hood and a bottle of water are basic equipment for just about any summer activity. Winter sports enthusiasts should wear warm, waterproof gloves, hat, and socks, plenty of warm, water-resistant clothing and goggles or sunglasses with adequate UV protection. Local sporting goods carry outdoor wear which is both wind and water resistant, an ideal choice for unpredictable mountain weather.
If you experience symptoms such as headache, insomnia, and/or fatigue, you may have a mild form of "altitude sickness". These symptoms are a warning to decrease your activity level. If symptoms persist or begin to worry you, don't hesitate to come to the Emergency Department, day or night - or to Sierra Park Family Medicine Clinic, from 9 am-4:30 pm.

Moderate your level of activity according to your physical condition. Skiing, Snowboarding, hiking and mountain biking require muscular strength and flexibility for control. The more control you have, the safer you will be. WARM UP
Drink plenty of liquids prior to any activity. Performing a few stretches before engaging in strenuous physical activity can help your muscles respond to the challenges ahead.

Be aware of trail conditions. A stiff wind can blow the powder snow, exposing an unexpected patch of ice that can send your skis or snowboard sailing. Hikers and mountain bikers should keep in mind that creek crossings during spring runoff can become impassable due to high water levels.

Last updated: July 7, 2013

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PO Box 3999
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546


760 934-2289

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