Altitude should be OK at gated resort
MINTURN – Some people have problems with altitude – whether it’s acclimating to the thin air or acclimating to the development of homes at 10,500 feet for a private ski resort.The Ginn Company hopes to build up to 1,150 homes and housing units ranging from about 9,000 feet at Gilman to the highest home on Battle Mountain at 10,500 feet. Ginn officials have pointed to other high-altitude resorts as precedent for the elevated homes on Battle Mountain.Telluride Mountain Village sits at 9,600 feet or higher. Copper Mountain is at 9,600 feet. There are several other communities as high or higher in Colorado and elsewhere.The elevation on Battle Mountain shouldn’t deter people from enjoying themselves while on vacation, said Dr. Chip Woodland, medical director for Vail Valley Medical Center. He compares Battle Mountain to Breckenridge, where home stand at 9,600 feet and higher.”The (acute mountain sickness) people get a headache and they’re off for a couple days and then they’re OK,” Woodland said. “I’m thinking of all the people that come to Breckenridge and it’s a similar altitude they will be exposed to and they have a wonderful time in Breck. We see people of all ages coming out and having a good time.”
Two major conditions afflict people at altitude; the more common acute mountain sickness and the rarer, more extreme pulmonary adema. Acute mountain sickness is caused by lower oxygen levels and always results in a headache that could be accompanied by any number of other symptoms, including decreased appetite, nausea, fatigue and other problems.About 25 percent of people get some form of acute mountain sickness coming to higher elevations, Woodland said.”Of that 25 percent, 9 percent will be so severe all they’ll want to do is sit at home,” he said.Pulmonary adema occurs under similar conditions when fluid collects in the lungs between 3 and 5 days at altitude, Woodland said. Difficulty breathing is a problem and often results in a trip to the emergency room where doctors give patients oxygen and tell them to take it easy for a week, Woodland said.Woodland estimated less than 1 percent of people develop pulmonary adema.After one or two weeks, people at altitude function nearly as well as they would at sea level, but it can take them six to eight weeks to fully acclimatize, Woodland said.
In the past, Ginn critic Andy Wiessner has pointed out second-home owners might have trouble acclimating to the elevation where homes on Battle Mountain will be built. Wiessner – a member of Friends of Battle Mountain, a group generally opposed to high-altitude development by Bobby Ginn – said he has other concerns the private ski resort. “I could care less what the people who have houses up there are going to enjoy it or not,” Wiessner said. “My concern is that it is inappropriate to put a subdivision at that elevation because it’s remote, scenic and there’s wildlife.”What would we think if people wanted to start putting houses on the top of the Vail ridgeline,” he said.
Because animals want to be alone and tend to avoid development, people should consider the environment rather than make money on development, Wiessner said. “It’s not always about people,” he said. “It should be about wildlife and wild country.”Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 748-2928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado