Climbing Everest... Everybody is a Katniss Everdeen

First off, no, I did not climb this beast of a mountain.

Okay, now that that is said;

In my Anatomy and Physiology class today my classmates and I got to watch a movie about a group of people who climbed Mount Everest and had various cognitive and physical tests done on them. For one of the climbers, this was their fourth time. The whole documentary focused on the side affects of high altitude and oxygen deprivation on the brain.

Before watching this movie I thought anyone who climbed this mountain was the perfect human being; perfectly fit, able to withstand terrible temperatures, and incredibly brave. Now I think all of that and that all of them are volunteering to participate in a Hunger Games type event, only the single opponent is Everest and he is unforgiving and brutal. The group volunteered for something they knew they might not come back from and that is pretty amazing, Just like Katniss Everdeen amazing.

SO what does climbing to 29,029 ft actually do to the brain...

It actually kills brain cells! The cells in your brain are so deprived of oxygen that they die. While the group was up there. Two of them did cognitive tests and oxygen saturation tests at each camp. The cognitive tests consisted of the reading back sentences over a walkie-talkie or looking at names of colors in different colors and only having to read the name not the color the name was in. The farther up the mountain they went the harder it was for them to perform the tests. Brain function was seriously decreased.

To combat the low oxygen saturation in their blood they used oxygen tanks and this really cool pressurizer cocoon thing called a Gamow bag.


The pressure is adjusted by pumping a foot pedal to inflate the bag. People say that it does temporarily relieve the symptoms of altitude sickness.


People also can contract pulmonary edema which basically means you can die of drowning in your own lungs fluids. It's a very terrible way to go and when someone even hints to having this condition they are taken off the mountain.

Alveoli sacs in the lungs fill with fluid. A climber would
die of asphyxiation. 
One of the people actually made it to the top of the mountain but contracted a violent cough. On the way down one of his group mates actually had to do the Heimlich Maneuver on him.

When they got back to civilization the doctor who went over their test results explained that if she was up there and receiving the information as it was being conducted she would have suggested that most of them should abandon the trip and go back to base camp. They were messing up their words and their oxygen saturation levels were low enough to be of concern.

I know that I would definitely not be able to do this climb but, even if I was physically fit with great lung capacity, I would not do it. In my opinion there are plenty other mountains one could climb that are probably dangerous but don't reach a height of 29,029 feet. Mount Fitz Roy in Chile is only 11,020 feet and one of the most technically difficult to climb according to matadornetwork.com. Cerro Torre is 10,262 feet is also a very difficult climb in Chile. These are still very tall mountains and supplemental oxygen is needed but they are still significantly smaller then Everest.

In Alaska, We have Mount Denali and it is 20,310 feet. Supplemental oxygen is definitely needed but it has not claimed as many lives as Everest. Still a difficult climb and a wonderful achievement.


 But I am still content with just looking at these wonderful, monstrous, mountains.

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