The closer you get to the sun, the more sunblock you’re going to need. High altitude sun exposure is a very real concern, and you need to make sure you’re taking the proper precautions to protect yourself from severe sunburns.
The Sun Is INTENSE
On a regular sunny day, most people need UV blocking sunglasses and a good sunscreen. At higher altitudes, the atmosphere is thinner, and the sun is that much closer. Even on a cold, snowy day, for every 1000 feet in altitude you gain, you gain 10-12% more UV exposure.
On top of that, snow reflects up to 90% of sunlight, compared to the 9-17% that typically gets reflected by solid ground. The really weird thing is, because the light is getting reflected off the snow, you can get sunburns in some REALLY weird places — like under your chin and in your nose.
High Altitude Sun Protection
Wear Protective Clothing
When it comes to a sunny day in the mountains, it’s crazy important to prepare and protect. Choose clothing that covers your skin, even in the summer — cotton will keep you from sweating like crazy. Make sure you also windproof your hat with a stampede string if you’re heading to the mountains.
When it comes to sunscreen, be sure to hit the spots on your body that are getting top-down sun exposure, like your nose and shoulders. If it’s snowy, put some on your neck and underneath your chin.
Especially in the snow, make sure you’re wearing sunglasses at higher altitudes — even if it’s cloudy. Sunglasses (like ours) rated for 100% UV protection are going to protect your eyes, without necessarily darkening your field of vision.
Have you ever gotten a sunburn in the mountains on a cloudy day? Tell us in the comments below!