Pilots often ask me why I go on oxygen at 12,000′. Well, with the EDS, there are no weight considerations, so I always have it on board. Clear thinking is easily worth another 10% in performance even at the “low altitude” of 12,000′. And I’m a performance oriented kind of guy, so the decision is clear. Why fly with your brain operating on 6 or 7 cylinders when you can have all 8 banging along?
In the course of directing the Taos Ski Patrol, we have sick skiers enter our HQ at 11,800′ all the time. We use pulse oximetry and find that sea level acclimated folks have a blood oxygen saturation of 85-90%. Skiers who live between 5-7,000′ have an O2 sat of 88-92% and don’t even realize that they are hypoxic! After being on oxygen with a flow rate of 1-2 lpm, their O2 sat becomes 99% within 1 minute.
Using oxygen gets you the same performance increase as spending $2000 on a higher performing glider.