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People over age of 50 less prone to altitude sickness

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily
Special to the DailyAround the Mountains
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TELLURIDE – One consolation for aging is that people over 50 are less susceptible to altitude sickness.Why is that? The Telluride Watch explains that as people age, their brains shrink, requiring less oxygen.But, for those who do get the severe and often fatal forms of altitude sickness, cerebral and pulmonary edema, there is a curious remedy: Viagra. The drug that is prescribed for impotency can also promote oxygenation through increased blood flow. The source for this is not a drug company’s PR flak, but one of nation’s premier high-altitude physicians, Peter Hackett. Renowned among mountain climbers for his work on Denali, as Alaska’s Mt. McKinley is often known, he now practices medicine in Telluride.To reduce the chances of altitude sickness, Hackett urges visitors coming from sea level to acclimate along the way. Thus, for somebody from Los Angeles he recommends the first night at Ridgway, with its elevation of 7,000, before continuing on to a lodge in Mountain Village, Telluride’s slopeside town, which is at 9,600 feet.Who gets altitude sickness seems to be determined largely by genetics. However, high-caliber athletes are more prone to suffer from it that non-athletes. So are women and, especially, pregnant women because of their high levels of estrogen and progesterone.Chinese now tops in world with rails, tooSALIDA – The Chinese government can now claim the world’s highest railroad. A new line to Lhasa, Tibet, reaches the supernal elevation of 16,640 feet.These new rails surpass those of a railroad in Peru that reach 15,698 feet, reports Salida’s Colorado Central Magazine.In the United States, Colorado owns all the high-elevation records. While a cog railroad reaches the 14,110-foot summit of Pikes Peak, the highest regular rails are at an elevation of 11,000, on an excursion train out of Leadville.In the same Leadville-Vail area, rails reach 10,239 feet at Tennessee Pass, although they have seen little use since 1997. As such, the Moffat Tunnel, located at Winter Park, has the distinction of being the highest standard-gauge through-route rails, reaching an elevation of 9,257 feet.

Vail-area man trying to marshal quake aidAVON – A man in the Vail area is trying to rally aid to the surviving victims of the earthquakes in Kashmir, which have already killed 73,000 and left three million people homeless.”Three million people homeless – that’s bigger than (metropolitan) Denver,” said Andrew Gallup. “That really resonated with me.”While sympathetic to the tsunami and hurricanes victims of the last year, he told the Vail Daily that the idea of 500,000 people living in tents in the snow struck a chord.”I hope and think that Vail is a caring community,” he said. “I think people here can relate to freezing to death. It’s been so cold lately,” he added, alluding to the below-zero temperatures of mid-December.Gallup hopes to marshal aid to a farming village of 1,475 people called Chittabatta. The village needs 120 homes. Built to a size of 144 square feet, they can be constructed for $400. The annual family income in Kashmir is only $60, he notes.He is trying to funnel aid through Relief International, a small Los Angeles based nonprofit organization.Aspen gondola cars sold within 36 hoursASPEN – After the ski season, the Aspen Skiing Co. is replacing its 18-year-old Silver Queen Gondola with shinier, larger cabins. What to do with the old?The company put the word out that the old ones could be had for $550. In retrospect, the company could have charged a much higher price. All 165 cabins had been sold within 36 hours, reports The Aspen Times.One buyer wanted all of them for use in “high-profile retail locations” around the United States. The ski company settled on selling him half. Other buyers were a mixture of local residents and visitors.

Whistler looking into creating a wind farmWHISTLER, B.C. – Intrawest is looking into creating a wind farm at its Whistler-Blackcomb ski area. While everything is still very preliminary, with any potential construction of turbines still years ahead, officials estimate that the wind farm could yield electricity sufficient to 20 percent of the ski area’s needs.”If we are going to achieve sustainability, this would be a major step,” said Arthur DeJong, Whistler-Blackcomb’s mountain planning and environmental resource manager.While the peaks have plenty of wind, the resort is reluctant to build turbines there, because of the visual intrusion. For the same reason, Whistler-Blackcomb is looking into smaller towers. Typically wind towers are 75 feet high with blades that stretch 40 feet across.”This is not something we’re rushing into,” DeJong told Pique.In Colorado, Vail Resorts is also studying the potential wind turbines on Vail Mountain. The payback there is estimated at 10 years.Even private jets must take numbers at ChristmasASPEN – It must be the human condition. No matter how much money a person is, there’s always something to grumble about. Consider the situation at Aspen, where The Aspen Times reported a complaint-filled gondola ride for a mother and daughter from Arkansas. Because the local airport, called Sardy Field, is so busy, they had to circle the airport for 90 minutes in their private jet before being allowed to land. You locals, they said, need to do something about this.The Times explained that because the number of planes often exceeds the amount of runway time available at Sardy Field, a situation called “airspace saturation,” the Federal Aviation Administration imposes a rationing program. The program is applied at Christmas, Presidents’ weekend, and spring break.Slots are allocated by this program, with commercial airlines getting first dibs. Those lacking slots are forced to circle Aspen until a slot is available. An alternative is to land at another airport in Rifle or Grand Junction to the west, or even at a Denver-area airport.Greg Dyer, a Federal Aviation Administration official, said that people with Gulfstream V airplanes are not the sort of people accustomed to being told “no.”

Some believe that operators of fractional ownership jets have fostered an underground market for slots. According to this theory, the operators of fractionally-owned jets snare slots – leaving the full-ownership jets without slots. The FAA discounted that accusation.Walgreens first to get scrutiny of big-box lawSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Last year Steamboat Springs passed a law that mandates special scrutiny of big-box stores, defined as those of more than 12,000 square feet. Walgreens, with a planned store of not quite 15,000 square feet, is the first to undergo that increased scrutiny.The Steamboat Pilot reports the developer plans dedicated employee housing. The upgraded plans also call for the Walgreens to look more upscale than the typical stores found in urban and suburban America: wood siding, timbered gables, and extensive use of stone veneer.Federal agencies wrestle over impacts to wetlands WOLF CREEK PASS – Two federal agencies are sparring about the potential impact to wetlands if a virtual town is created next to the Wolf Creek ski area.The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has authority for giving out permits when projects involve wetlands. However, the Environmental Protection Agency contends that it has ultimate authority under the Clean Water Act to determine what constitutes “waters of the United States,” notes the Durango Telegraph.Opponents suggest that Clear Creek Channel co-founder Red McCombs and others in the development team have been pulling strings in Washington D.C. in order to reduce the EPA’s involvement. EPA scientists tell the newspaper that they remain dubious that the project can be developed without impacting wetlands.Opponents also remain dubious about a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ruling that the project will not “appreciably reduce the likelihood of both the survival and recovery of the lynx’ in Colorado. “We can put little faith in official federal agency pronouncements on the Village at Wolf Creek,” said Jeff Berman, a founder of Colorado Wild, a watchdog group.Berman said the Forest Service and other agencies have been trying to keep the public in the dark. He said he was reserving judgment on the lynx until he has seen how the biological opinion used to reach that conclusion was written and by who.He noted that in at least one case in the past, the attorneys for McCombs had “ghost written” a document that was later adopted by a federal agency.


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