By Allen Best
Advil helps handle altitude
PALO ALTO, Calif. – A study has found that ibuprofen, the chemical name for products such as Advil, can reduce the incidence of acute mountain sickness, which occurs in more than 25 percent of people who travel to higher altitudes each year.
Grant Lipman, the Stanford University researcher who led the study, told the Washington Post that altitude sickness is like a “really nasty hangover.”
Symptoms include headache fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting and poor appetite.
In the study of 58 men and 28 women, ibuprofen reduced altitude sickness symptoms by 26 percent.
The volunteers needed to be healthy enough to hike at high elevations, but were not elite climbers. In summer of 2010, they were taken from near sea level to the White Mountains, northeast of Bishop, Calif., where they spent the night at 4,100 feet.
In the morning, they were given 600 milligrams of ibuprofen or a placebo before heading up the mountain to a staging area at 11,700. They were given a second dose at 2 p.m. before hiking up three more miles to an elevation of 12,570 feet, where they received a third dose before spending the night on the mountain.
According to study results published in the March issue of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, 43 percent of those who took ibuprofen developed acute mountain sickness, compared to 69 percent of those who were given the placebo. The severity of symptoms was also higher for those who received placebos.
Two drugs, acetazolamide and dexamethasone, are currently approved to prevent and treat the condition. But they are prescription only and carry a risk of side effects. Dr. Robert Roach, director of the Altitude Research Center at the University of Colorado-Denver School of Medicine, said many doctors are reluctant to prescribe the two drugs unless a person has experienced altitude sickness before.
Ibuprofen appears to be nearly as effective as acetazolamide and dexamethasone, so it may be an option for people traveling to high altitude who don’t yet know if they’re susceptible, Roach told the Washington Post.
He said that 20 to 30 percent of people will experience sickness at 7,000 feet, and up to 50 percent will get sick at 10,000 feet.
Riders, sledders need manners
WHITEFISH, Mont. – Ski area reps at Whitefish Mountain Resort are using the word “irritated” and promising to seize season passes, at the very least, if they find people violating closures.
Their ire was precipitated by several close calls of people skiing in areas where avalanche control work was being done or on slopes where winch cats were being used.
“With a winch cat, there is a cable out there that could kill a person, said resort spokeswoman Riley Polumbus. “When it’s dark, skiers don’t know where these cables are, and our groomers don’t expect to see a skier or hiker out there.”
Whitefish two years ago instituted a policy that allowed uphill climbers at the resort but restricted them to certain locations. The intent, explains the Whitefish Pilot, was to create a buffer between skiers, and groomers and patrollers.
Ski tracks were also found going into a steep, double-black diamond slopes where patrollers were getting ready to do avalanche control. Another morning, nearly 80 skiers had entered an area where patrollers were still using avalanche explosives.
“There are closures for a reason. Respect them,” said Polumbus. “We have 3,000 acres up there. Go ski something that is open.”
To Montana’s north, Canada’s Whistler is having problems with snowmobilers sledding in places where they’re not supposed to be. It wouldn’t be the first time, and 61 percent of backcountry users who took a survey after having visited a no-motors area near Whistler reported seeing snowmobilers, while another 67 percent said they observed tracks. Signs marking prohibited areas to motorized use have been run over or otherwise destroyed.
Greenhouse gas tracking resumes
ASPEN, Colo. – Continuing on the path on which it embarked in 2005, Aspen is getting ready to inventory the greenhouse gas emissions caused by the municipality, its residents, and its visitors.
The Canary Initiative, created to address climate change, seeks to cut emissions 30 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. The baseline is 2004.
From 2004 to 2007, Aspen succeeded in knocking down its greenhouse gas emissions by 8.25 percent. Most of this gain was achieved by the city utility purchasing wind-generated electricity instead of electricity created by burning coal. But actual consumption of electricity rose 9.8 percent.
The 2007 study found that aviation is responsible for 36 percent of Aspen’s emissions and ground transportation 27 percent.
Isaacson teams on digital school
ASPEN, Colo. – Walter Isaacson, who wrote the biography of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and at one time was editor of Time magazine, has teamed up with Colorado Mountain College to offer a program to teach digital media and production skills. It is to be called the Isaacson School for New Media at Colorado Mountain College.
Classes will be offered at the Aspen, Carbondale and Glenwood Springs campuses
The Aspen Daily News says that the intent is to make the Roaring Fork Valley a leader in digital and mobile technology, what one official called a “digital valley.” “We want to be on the cutting edge,” said Stan Jensen, president of the college.
Cutouts aim to slow drivers
JACKSON, Wyo. – After a half-dozen moose were killed this winter on the highway between Jackson and the hamlet of Wilson, about nine miles away, local residents are resorting to new tricks.
Speed limit signs alone aren’t enough, so one resident paid for a mobile sign that alerts motorists to the danger with blinking lights and text.
Now come plywood silhouettes that stand five feet tall and have been posted along the shoulders of roads. The goal: to cause drivers to slow down.
The idea of silhouettes is not new, explains the Jackson Hole News&Guide. In 2006, a couple of mule deer silhouettes were posted along Jackson’s busiest street at a well-known wildlife crossing. The carnage continues there, however, as during one recent week, three deer were hit and killed.