Effects of Hypoxia on Mountaineers Exposed to Extreme Altitudes

Javier Aceña Medina

Pedro Allueva Torres

*Corresponding author: Pedro Allueva Torres pallueva@unizar.es

Original Language

Cite this article

Aceña Medina, J., & Allueva Torres, P. (2017). Effects of Hypoxia on Mountaineers Exposed to Extreme Altitudes. Apunts. Educación Física y Deportes, 127, 44-51. https://doi.org/10.5672/apunts.2014-0983.es.(2017/1).127.04



Nowadays mountaineering is highly popular among our athletes. Mountaineers operating at high altitudes are often exposed to very adverse weather conditions and routes of great physical and technical difficulty, but possibly the most fearsome enemy they have to face has to do with the undesirable effects of hypoxia. This research focuses on confirming possible deterioration of the thinking skills of a group of mountaineers exposed to extreme altitudes (above 5,500 meters) without the aid of additional oxygen. To do this, we have studied mountaineers on three expeditions to the “eight-thousanders” Manaslu, Makalu and Gasherbrum II who were given mental skills tests before, during and after each expedition. The uniqueness of this study lies in having included results of tests performed at extreme altitudes, in particular at 5,800, 6,200 and 6,000 meters respectively. The results show that in all the areas and cognitive functions assessed, it seems that the most affected by the effects of hypoxia were those related to abstract, spatial and verbal reasoning ability. The most obvious decline was observed at altitude and persisted one week after their return. After six months, recovery from these deficiencies was complete.

Keywords: Extreme Altitude, hypoxia, Thinking Skills.

ISSN: 1577-4015

Received: February 28, 2016

Accepted: May 21, 2016

Published: January 01, 2017