Ear to the ground

“Did you have some nude photos taken in the woods recently?”

- A local woman’s brother after spying a girl “who looked just like you” on his Internet adventures

Getting stupid

Do altitude and ignorance go hand-in-hand? A recent study completed in Spain suggests that time at altitude, particularly high elevations, may be tied to loss of brain cells.

The study pointed to the lack of oxygen in the rarified air and concluded that time well above treeline resulted in a “significant loss” of brain cells. It went to suggest that activities like climbing 14,000-foot peaks can lead to permanent damage.

But a study conducted by Telluride’s Institute for Altitude Medicine is coming to a different conclusion. Dr. Peter Hackett, the center’s director and one of the nation’s foremost experts in high-altitude medicine, has spearheaded a study of climbers of Alaska’s 20,320-foot Denali, North America’s highest peak. The brains of climbers were analyzed by magnetic resonance imaging both before and after their climbs.

While the results of the study remain inconclusive, Hackett told The Telluride Watch that it appears that climbing the occasional Fourteener won’t cause irreparable damage.

Meanwhile, anecdotal evidence on the 14,400-foot Mount Elbert suggests that the Spanish study may be spot on. Lately, peak baggers on Elbert have been recording their conquests with felt-tip markers on summit rocks. One of them recently made the faux pas of also leaving his e-mail address.

Contacted by the Summit Daily News, Lewis Daugherty explained that he had made a mistake. “It was my first 14er,” he said. “It was a long hike. I was so happy I made it. I saw two other ones up there, and I just wanted to leave my mark. I didn’t know exactly it was wrong, and common sense-wise, I didn’t think about it.”

Apparently, Daugherty only needed a few hours above tree-line to experience significant brain loss.

Getting adventurous

Durango Adventure Racers stood atop the podium last weekend. On Saturday, Zia Taqueria/Four Corners Adventure Racing edged two bitter rivals to take the Adventure Xstream Vail Race. The race covered 60 miles in the White River National Forest and included kayak, mountain bike, trekking and navigation legs.

The local team broke out some hidden talent for the race, tapping Luna Chick Shonny Vanlandingham and Ben Hoffman, who recently represented the USA at the Triathlon World Championships. These two powerhouses joined Four Corners regulars Brett Sublett and Tom Ober to pedal, paddle and march to the victory over arch-nemesis Team Boulder Performance as well as Team Eolus.

The Adventure Xstream Series peaks at the coming Moab expedition race, set for Sept. 25-28. With Zia Taqueria/Four Corners Adventure Racing’s victory in Vail, it’s now a virtual three-way tie for the series victory.




In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows