Life and Death In The Mountains

The Gear Junkie has a really great article today as part of his Daily Dose. The story centers around mountain climber Mike Farris, who was on Kangchenjunga back in 2002 when he witnessed another climber, returning from a successful summit, who tripped and fell more than a thousand feet to his death. At the time, Farris didn’t think much about what he had witnessed. His judgement was impaired by altitude, and it wasn’t until later, when he moved back down the mountain, that the full weight of what he had seen began to have an impact on him.

In 2005, Farris went on another expedition to Broad Peak, when he once again suffered the effects of high altitude on the human brain. On summit day, Farris became confused, unsure of himself. He had a hard time catching his breath, and was borderline dehydrated. He ended up turning back before the summit, and once again realized how much his thought process and judgement was impaired while suffering the effects of altitude sickness.

These incidences, along with a number of other experiences on big peaks throughout the World, prompted Farris, a biologist, to write a book entitled The Altitude Experience: Successful Climbing and Trekking Above 8,000 Feet, which will be published in May. The book focuses on the physiological and psychological impact of altitude on an athletes performance when high on the mountain. Farris’ writings will cover a wide range of topics and promises to be an interesting look at what drives climbers and trekkers to go to the places they go.

Gear Junkie does a great job of giving us insights into Farris’ thoughts while also sneak peaking his book as well. Anyone who has been at altitude can attest to it’s effects on your body and mind, and an in depth look at the topic by a biologist and climber who has been there, should make for fascinating reading.

Kraig Becker

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