Altitude Control Technologies cures altitude-related health problems |

Altitude Control Technologies cures altitude-related health problems

Randy Wyrick
Vail Daily
This altitude control system was installed by Altitude Control Technologies on Wednesday, Aug. 31, in a home in Vail. The system brings oxygen to rooms of the house to help alleviate symptoms of altitude sickness. The higher the elevation, the closer to sea level the system can bring it. At this home in Vail at 8,500 feet, the system can bring oxygen levels to around 1,500 to 2,000 feet above sea level.
Chris Dillmann | |

Altitude Control Technologies

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Larry Kutt’s company created facilities to train U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6, professional and Olympic athletes and military and commercial pilots as well as built a system to protect both the American flag Francis Scott Key was watching when he penned “The Star Spangled Banner” and even house $400 million worth of racehorses for an Arab sheik.

Preventing altitude sickness for you and your guests will be no problem.

Kutt operates Altitude Control Technologies, a Colorado company working all over Vail; Aspen; Summit County; Telluride; Crested Butte; Park City, Utah; Steamboat Springs; and the world — just about anywhere an altitude adjustment is needed.

Basically, the company can take the atmosphere in homes to lower altitudes — or higher, if you need it.

“People are buying and building these beautiful homes at 9,000 feet. They come up from sea level and get altitude-sick,” said Kutt, who is also co-founder of Metro State University’s School for Entrepreneurship. “Beyond the money, it’s one of their dreams. They don’t want to sell or move or suffer. We can come in and change the environment for them. Everyone feels well and happy instead of staying indoors and being miserable.”

Less oxygen lives here

In places such as Vail, Aspen and Summit County, there’s about 30 percent less oxygen than at sea level. That’s because there’s less air pressure to hold in oxygen, Kutt said.

“If you live here, you won’t get altitude-sick because you’ve acclimatized. But if you come from sea level and you come quickly, 35 to 40 percent of people will suffer symptoms of altitude sickness — headache, stomach upset, insomnia — something like that,” he said.

The solution really is simple, he said. The company increases the amount of oxygen to simulate 1,700 feet — that’s the magic altitude — usually in a few bedrooms. You sleep at that simulated altitude, and it interrupts the oxygen cycle. You and your guests will be fine.

“All they need to do is sleep in this environment. We’re interrupting the low-oxygen environment of the mountains with a higher-oxygen environment,” Kutt said.

You can perform better, recover better from skiing and hiking and improve mental performance, he said.

The company once installed a system for a man who ran the Harvard Endowment and a hedge fund and had built a beautiful home. Every time he and his guests came up, they got sick, suffered from stomach disorders and couldn’t sleep.

“People will say to themselves, ‘I went to the mountains and was sick. If I go to the Caribbean, I won’t be.’ We can solve that,” Kutt said.

High Country home

As people get older, physicians have found that they don’t deal with altitude as well. Often, they have to leave their high-country homes.

“They don’t want to leave, but they have to,” Kutt said.

There’s a couple on Vail’s Beaver Dam Road who’ve lived here almost since their address was the outskirts of town. They’re getting a system. They’re staying.

Kutt’s company did a system for one of the Koch brothers in Aspen. There’s a real estate development in Telluride on a ridge that’s pushing 10,000 feet in elevation, where the systems are being installed as standard equipment.

For small bedrooms, a system starts at $20,000.

How it works

The systems are silent, and they’re tucked away in a mechanical room or some other out-of-the-way place.

“People walk into a room and say, ‘I don’t hear anything’ or ‘I don’t see anything,’” Kutt said.

It separates air into two parts: high oxygen content and low oxygen content. The low-oxygen air is pumped out of the house. The high oxygen is pumped into the room.

Sensors keep track of the oxygen levels in the rooms and send that information to a control center.

It detects the carbon dioxide levels in people’s breath. It’s not a motion detector, and it generally runs late at night.

It includes a cellphone app, so it can be controlled from anywhere in the world.

“We feel really good about what we do,” Kutt said.

Elite athlete training

Altitude Control Technologies lives at the crossroads of science, physiology and engineering. Peter Hackett and a long list of other physiologists, physicians and scientists helped design the system. Hackett has been the team physician on several Mount Everest and Mount McKinley expeditions and is founder and executive director of Telluride’s Institute for Altitude Medicine.

“When issues come up, we go to these guys to make sure it’s in harmony with science,” Kutt said. “We don’t want to make promises we can’t deliver on.”

William & Mary’s altitude research center has one. So does the altitude research center in Denver, as does the U.S. Army Research Institute. The U.S. Air Force Academy has a system to train pilots and athletes, and so does the Federal Aviation Administration. The Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs uses one to train athletes for both high and low altitudes.

In fact, 14 countries use it to train Olympic athletes, as do several NBA, NFL and NHL teams. Kutt installed a system for the Real Madrid professional soccer team.

The Sheikh sure loves his horses

Altitude Control Technologies created the world’s largest altitude-simulation facility in Qatar for the Asian Games and a hospital wing in the Middle East, which explains how it attracted the attention of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, ruler of Dubai and one of the wealthiest people on Earth.

The company installed a system in Mohammad’s mansion in England. He liked it so much he asked the company to install systems in his Dubai palaces and then some villas.

Mohammad then explained that he really loved his racehorses and asked if the company could create a facility for them, as well.

Yes, the company said, it could.

That means contending with horses in sealed stalls who are consuming food and water at one end and expelling equine byproducts at the other end. If you’ve ever been in a stable, you understand the challenges with air-quality issues.

Then there were hay and its particulates, sandstorms, heat and humidity. Dubai is on the Persian Gulf, so along with everything else, it has humidity in the desert. Those desert stables are where the sheikh keeps his endurance horses, worth more than $400 million.

Smithsonian and Seal Team 6

The Navy’s SEAL Team 6 ordered an altitude-training system for an upcoming mission — and no, SEAL Team 6 could not tell Altitude Control Technologies what the mission was. It turned out to be the Osama bin Laden mission.

The Smithsonian wanted Kutt and Co. to protect and preserve “The Star Spangled Banner” flag. Yes, that one — the flag Key watched through the all-night naval Battle of Baltimore at Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.

The folks at the Smithsonian determined that they wanted the oxygen level in that sealed room to be 14.1 percent.

Jim Call and the Smithsonian people said something like, “We’re not fussy. You can go to 14.0 percent or 14.2 percent. As long as it’s within one-tenth of that oxygen level, we’re fine.”

It turns out the Smithsonian had hired a couple of different companies before it found Altitude Control Technologies — sort of the same way the princess had to kiss a few frogs before she found Prince Charming.

After altitude-adjustment attempts by two other companies, Kutt said he and some others from his company were in the conference room with all sorts of Smithsonian experts when he asked, “You have this other system. Why are you bringing us in?”

The experts started looking at their shoes, and someone mumbled, “Well, it caught on fire.”

In fact, it caught on fire twice, Kutt said, which can happen when too much oxygen is pumped into a controlled space. That caused the complete evacuation of that wing of the Smithsonian, and the fire was within 30 feet of the flag the system was supposed to be protecting.

Everyone agreed that would never do.

They worked with the National Fire Protection Association, which developed standards on how much oxygen you should put into a room. The flag and Key’s original manuscript are just fine.

“We are all over the world; I can say this without blushing. We are the world’s experts at controlling altitude in this way,” Kutt said.