I just caught a replay of BBC’s 2007 Horizon program “Doctors in the Death Zone” which followed a group of British intensive care clinicians researching the effects of hypoxia on the human body with a view to gaining new insight to help critically ill patients. Everest makes a pretty cool laboratory! If you’re quick and in the uk you can still catch the second part of the program on iPlayer. The team is looking to revisit Everest in 2013 to do further research – more details on their web site www.xtreme-everest.co.uk
They said that 1 in 15 attempts to summit Everest result in a climber’s death and that often was associated to the affects of hypoxia. It was eye opening to see the affects of altitude and reduced oxygen on some of the climbers. Everest is over 29,000ft but even on Kilimanjaro’s slightly more modest 19,340ft slopes the affects of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is apparently still felt by most climbers during their ascent. I’ll be doing more reading on this I think!