‘High country’ defined in book

BRECKENRIDGE – Several newspapers in Colorado commonly use the expression “high country.” However, they have never specified where “high” begins. Does “high” begin at 5,000 feet, 8,000 feet, 10,000 feet or more?

A somewhat more empirical way of defining high country comes in the form of a new cookbook calledPie in the Sky: Successful Baking at High Altitudes. Bakers must adjust for the effects of both thinner and drier air as elevations rise, and this book offers recipes that take these into account. Doing so, notesThe Denver Post, will keep the meringue in lemon looking peaked and the apples in pies still apples, and not sauce.

By several definitions offered in the book, the “high country” might begin at 7,000 feet. Below that elevation, crisp cooking apples – Granny Smith, Jonathan or Rome – can be used for baking pies, says the author, Susan G. Purdy. Above 7,000 feet, she says, soft eating apples like Golden Delicious and McIntosh will bake more quickly and hence more effectively.

Reading all this, one baker who long lived – and baked apple pies – in the Colorado mountain town of Red Cliff says Jonathans bake just fine at an elevation of 8,674 feet, as long as you do every thing else right.

Still, if there are quibbles, none can discount Purdy’s methodical approach. She field tested each recipe at sea level, 3,000, 5,000, 7,000 and 10,000 feet, finding that most one-size-fits-all adaptations just didn’t work.

Ski vacations hurt Disney empire

DENVER – Fun and business don’t mix at ski resorts. That would seem to be the message from a book calledDisney Warby David Kipen, a writer for theSan Francisco Chronicle.

Kipen says Michael Eisner, chief executive of Walt Disney Co., made three critical errors that cost the company billions of dollars while he vacationed at mountain resorts. Eisner, he says, made his hastiest and worst decisions while in Aspen or Sun Valley. “Management by altitude sickness is not a prescription for good corporate governance,” he writes.

The Denver Post found additional evidence for lapses of judgment in mountain resorts. “There’s no question you aren’t operating at full capacity,” said Dr. Robert Roach, who directs research at the Colorado Center for Altitude Medicine and Physiology in Denver.

Just the same, it might be useful to remember that Sun Valley is only slightly higher than Denver. And Whistler is the same elevation of Tucson. So the elevation of vacation and not the hypoxia of thin air might be the more rational explanation of why Disney’s chief made some Mickey Mouse decisions.

Telluride parade rips on celebrities

TELLURIDE – As do most ski towns, Telluride had a Fourth of July parade this year, andThe Telluride Watch reports that the biggest hit was an entry called “The Church of Celebritology.”

Church members preach their own inferiority while adulating celebrities. “We all know that celebrities are better than us,” said member Jeremy Baron. “We strive to reach their level someday.”

The church won first place in the “Funny Parade Entry.” Other entries included the “Men Without Rhythm,” who danced to celebrate Elvis Presley’s 70th birthday. Watching it all was Norman Schwarzkopf, the leader of U.S. forces in the first war against Iraq, a part-time resident of the Telluride area.

Meanwhile, Jackson Hole had its own celebrity, if politicians are classified as such. Since people were hounding Dick Cheney for autographs, he must be.The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that the vice president, who claims Jackson Hole as his primary residence, caught an ear of corn chucked from a passing float. Even the notoriously serious Secret Service agents cracked a smile during the parade, notes the newspaper.

Paper objects to gonzo cannon

ASPEN – Aspen hosted an Ideas Festival last week, and several dozen intellectual heavy-weights – among them potential presidential Hillary Clinton and her husband, Bill – stopped by to share observations, land a few tautological punches and otherwise reminisce about what could have been.

Meanwhile,The Aspen Timeshad got festive with some ideas of its own – reporting what it thought were the really, really bad ideas visited upon Aspen through the years. Chief among the thoughts gone wrong, saysThe Times, is the idea of shooting the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson, the author who committed suicide in February, out of a cannon. “The hero worship is out of hand,” said the newspaper. “It’s a bad idea; it sets a precedent that celebrities can do any hare-brained idea that suits their large egos.”

But a worse idea than the cannon shooting, said theTimes, is the idea of making it an invitational-only affair. Plenty of Thompson fans want in, and, like their late hero, many of them crave weirdness and violence. To deny them an opportunity to be part of it is to put the entire upper Roaring Fork Valley in peril, adds the newspaper.

Peak named for Squaw founder

SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. – A 7,742-foot mountain near Squaw Valley has been named Poulsen Peak, after Wayne Poulsen, a co-founder of the company that created the ski area.

Poulsen grew up in nearby Reno and, while still young, became a volunteer who skied into the mountains each winter to record the water content of the snowpack, explains theSierra Sun. He began his competitive ski career in 1931, and in one year, he was the California state champion in downhill, slalom, ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

But, like Pete Seibert while still a youth in New Hampshire, Poulson early on nurtured a dream of someday building a ski resort. Seibert later went on to create Vail, while work done by Poulson soon after high school was the basis for development of several ski areas in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee area.

After serving in World War II, Poulsen joined with Harvard-educated Alex Cushing – although the two had a falling out shortly before the ski area opened in 1949. Poulsen died in 1995, but Cushing remains the head of Squaw Valley.

Wal-Mart heir dies near Tetons

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – John Thomas Walton, the No. 2 son of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, died when his ultralight aircraft crashed near the Jackson Hole Airport.

An obituary in theJackson Hole News & Guide recalls that he moved to Jackson Hole in 1999 and became a supporter of local schools. His wealth, he said, would best benefit the public if devoted to education. As well, the 58-year-old Walton had fully embraced the outdoors, snowboarding in winter and mountain biking in summer. In his earlier years, he had been a Green Beret medic in Vietnam, then a crop duster and a boat builder.

– compiled by Allen Best

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