Sunday, May 26, 2013

The High Stakes of Altitude Sickness - Matt Colautti

Rating: ***

I've never been interested in climbing Mont. Everest. It would be cool and all to reach the high point in the world, but I’ve never understood why everyone risks so much for that thrill. Above 8000 metres on Mont. Everest is called the death zone, so why do so many people take the risk of trying to reach the top?

On May 19, 2012, Canadian women, Shriya Shah-Klorfine made it to the top of Mont. Everest but sub sequentially died 8 hours later due to altitude sickness. Acute mountain sickness (AMS) occurs when the body reacts to this decreased amount of oxygen. It only gets worse when climbers continue to ascend or continue to do strenuous activity. In the article, it explains that when Shriya was told to stop climbing, she ignored the guide’s logical request and continued on to the top. The article talks about two other dangerous diseases that can arise when climbing at high altitudes. There’s High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE). HACE is a version of AMS in which fluid builds up in the brain, and if help is not sought immediately, victims risk coma or death. HAPE is a buildup of fluid in the lungs which makes it impossible for them to exchange oxygen. HAPE is also one of the biggest killers when climbing at high altitudes.

 This article has taught me many important things that may come in handy one day. You should only climb 300m per day, that some people are genetically unable to climb at high altitudes (don’t have the required genes to acclimatize), that 75% of people climbing over 3000m get AMS or AMS symptoms and that the most important treatment is to stop climbing and descent. It has made me realize just how serious climbing is and how much of an affected it has on the human body. So for anyone planning on doing any climbing in the future remember to do your research on how to prevent getting one of these dangerous illnesses

Colautti, Matt. "The High Stakes of Altitude Sickness." Adventura Spring 2013: 14-15. ESPACES | Éditions Numériques | Adventura | Current Issue. Web. 26 May 2013.


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