Tag: Xtreme Everest

Natural High

The trekking group, Team Epic, seems to have unburied my penchant for cocktails, despite the fact that my alcoholic consumption on this trip has been limited to a beer in Club Namche. Lab manager Monty Mythen, Smiths Medical Professor of Anaesthesia and Critical Care and Director for the Centre of Anaesthesia at UCL, insists that the cold, cavernous basement beneath the Xtreme Everest lab in Namche Bazaar (3500m) is ‘the world’s highest nightclub’. I suspect it may have a couple of rivals, but it does have a bar, a pool table, a disco ball and a warm vibe to make up for the chilly temperatures: I don’t think I’ve ever been in a ‘club’ where the dress code is down jacket! In the thin air, a single can of San Miguel did make me feel a little giddy. But that’s nothing compared with the euphoria and exhilaration that trekking in this magnificent landscape can bring. (more…)

Take the High Road

The trail from Lukla airport to Everest Base Camp climbs from an altitude of 2840m to a head-spinning, lung-grasping 5364m. Yet this is no wilderness trek. The route is flecked with hikers kitted out in expensive outdoor gear; porters bent under impossible loads; fleets of furry yaks ferrying local supplies and trekkers’ kit up and down the hills; and local Nepalese going about their business. This might be the Himalayas, but the Khumbu region of eastern Nepal is home to over 150,000 Sherpas and the bustle of daily life is much in evidence. As well as the local colour there is plenty of camaraderie among the walkers, as we wish each other luck and enquire anxiously about conditions higher up. We meet other Xtreme Everest groups coming back down from Base Camp, a group of doctors and a group of Sherpas participating in the same medical research as us. They tell us that night-time temperatures are as low as -20 degrees Celsius. My bone marrow shivers at the thought. (more…)

Xtreme Everest – Going to Extremes to Understand Critical Illness

En route to Everest Base Camp
En route to Everest Base Camp

Intensive care represents the knife edge between life and death and extreme illnesses require cutting edge research to provide solutions. Despite intensive care being one of the most sophisticated areas of hospital care, hypoxia – lack of oxygen reaching the body’s vital organs – is a common problem for patients in an intensive care unit. Approximately 80% of people in intensive care suffer hypoxia and until this can be controlled they can’t be treated effectively. For both scientific and ethical reasons it’s difficult to conduct research on critical care patients. In response to this, Xtreme Everest, a not-for-profit organisation led by doctors and scientists from University College London Hospital, University of Southampton and Duke University in the US, is conducting an innovative research project which uses the shortage of oxygen experienced at high altitudes to simulate the hypoxia that affects people in intensive care. (more…)