Friday, February 26, 2010

VWC at 10'000 feet & altitude sickness

One of the VWC's ignored issues is the medical situation.
This parcel is higher than any other US overnight resort. At 10,000’ our lungs absorb a third the oxygen as at sea level. This alone creates a raft of potential medical, marketing, even ethical, perhaps legal liability questions since medical experts advise against lowlanders spending nights at that extreme altitude.

links to informative sites:

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Altitude Illness

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Peter H. Hackett, David R. Shlim


The stresses of the high-altitude environment include cold, low humidity, increased ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and decreased air pressure, all of which can cause problems for travelers. The greatest concern, however, is hypoxia. At 10,000 ft (3,000 m), for example, the inspired PO2 is only 69% of sea-level value. The degree of hypoxic stress depends upon altitude, rate of ascent, and duration of exposure. Sleeping at high altitude produces the greatest hypoxia; day trips to high altitude with return to low altitude are much less stressful on the body.


The human body adjusts very well to moderate hypoxia, but requires time to do so (Box 2-3). The process of acute acclimatization to high altitude takes 3–5 days; therefore, acclimatizing for a few days at 8,000–9,000 ft before proceeding to higher altitude is ideal. Acclimatization prevents altitude illness, improves sleep, and increases comfort and well-being, although exercise performance will always be reduced compared with low altitude. Increase in ventilation is the most important factor in acute acclimatization; therefore, respiratory depressants must be avoided. Increased red-cell production does not play a role in acute acclimatization.

Risk for Travelers

Inadequate acclimatization may lead to altitude illness in any traveler going to 8,000 ft (2,500 m) or higher. Susceptibility and resistance to altitude illness are genetic traits, and no screening tests are available to predict risk. Risk is not affected by training or physical fitness. Children are equally susceptible as adults; persons >50 years of age have slightly lower risk. How a traveler has responded to high altitude previously is the most reliable guide for future trips but is not infallible. However, given certain baseline susceptibility, risk is greatly influenced by rate of ascent and exertion.

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International Society for Mountain Medicine

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The Institute For Altitude Medicine in Telluride

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High Altitude Medicine Guide

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Outdoor Action Guide to
 High Altitude: Acclimatization and Illnesses

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Merck online Manuel

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