When ascending Mount Everest or the other eight-thousanders, high-altitude climbing (mountaineering) normally necessitates the use of portable oxygen gear, however some mountaineers have scaled Everest without oxygen. The choice of whether or not to bring oxygen depends on a number of factors, most notably weather conditions and personal preference.
Of the thousands of people who have attempted to scale Everest, only 32 have done so while wearing an oxygen mask. The majority of those who have worn masks have done so as a precaution because they were unable to acclimatize fast enough to avoid the effects of high-altitude sickness. A few have done so as a protest against the use of oxygen for elevation gain.
The highest altitude at which anyone has survived without oxygen is about 8,000 meters (26,247 feet). This was achieved by Russian climber Yakov Chersky in 1924. He had been assigned to deliver supplies to another team but instead decided to continue alone up the mountain. At the time, no one knew how harmful increased levels of carbon dioxide could be at such high elevations or if humans could survive without oxygen for any length of time. Chersky made it all the way to the top before he ran out of breath and had to stop. He was rescued several days later by members of his team who had followed close behind.
Mountaineering Everest without oxygen is the purest form of high-altitude climbing. Few individuals can or have attempted to climb Everest without oxygen, and it remains one of the most exclusive aspirations for high-altitude mountaineers. > span> Individuals who have tried include: David A. Whillock, Lhakpa Gelung, Phinney, Peter Habeler, and Eric Simonson.
However, climbing Everest without supplemental oxygen does not mean that you can walk up its steep slopes unaided. As you ascend, you will need to deal with increasing levels of fatigue and exhaustion, which will require you to rest more often. There are three main types of terrain on Mount Everest: rock, snow, and ice. Each type requires a different level of expertise and equipment to climb safely.
To successfully climb Everest without oxygen, you should be in excellent physical condition and have extensive experience at altitude. You will also need reliable equipment, including clothing, food, water, shelter, navigation tools, communication devices, and medicine.
Additionally, the team that attempts the ascent must be prepared to handle an emergency situation during the climb. An accident at high altitude can have serious consequences; therefore, rescue teams are located at various points along the route.
Supplemental oxygen can be used to avoid the consequences of severe hypoxia at high elevations (5500–8848 m). Although Everest has been climbed without the use of oxygen, most climbers utilize it above 6500 m. However, because arranging oxygen supply is complicated and expensive, flow rates are maintained low. A typical rate is 0.5 L per minute.
At very high elevations, the concentration of oxygen in the air is very low. At 7400 m, the approximate elevation of Mount Everest, the ratio of oxygen to other gases is only about 20:80, which is very low. The human body can survive for a short time without oxygen (hypoxia), but not very long (about four minutes). Therefore, most people who climb extremely high die from causes other than exposure to lack of oxygen; mainly from exposure to cold temperatures and great physical stress. A few live because their bodies can adapt themselves to these conditions.
The main reason that climbers use supplemental oxygen is to prevent severe hypoxia. This occurs when the fraction of oxygen in the blood falls below 10%. At this point, cells begin to suffer damage from lack of oxygen. First, they become anoxic (without oxygen), then they acidify due to removal of carbonic acid from the blood. Anoxia also inhibits brain function and results in confusion and loss of consciousness. Even with continued oxygen supplementation, severe hypoxia leads to death within a few hours or days.
Supplemental oxygen can be used at high elevations to avoid or mitigate the consequences of severe hypoxia. However, it must be taken in combination with a proper acclimatisation regimen. Everest has almost never been climbed without oxygen, and most climbers need bottled oxygen over 7,000 meters on an 8,000-meter summit.
The first recorded use of oxygen on Mount Everest was by New Zealander George Leigh Mallory and American Edward Hillary on May 5, 1924. They were attempting to become the first people to climb Everest without supplementary oxygen.
Mallory and Hillary reached an elevation of about 8,850 metres before turning back due to bad weather. They were later found dead near their tent.
It is believed that Mallory and Hillary left without enough oxygen for both of them to make it back down alive. The use of oxygen had not been proven effective at preventing death from exposure at such high levels.
In 1953, two groups attempted to reach the summit of Everest within a single season. One group included members of the British Army's Gurkha Regiment. On April 23, they became the first people to reach the top of the world without using supplemental oxygen. The next day, another group including Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of the mountain. They were followed by more than 100 other climbers over the next few years. The majority of these climbers used oxygen during their attempts at reaching the summit.
Only the most expert mountaineers are capable of climbing Everest without the use of supplementary oxygen. If a climber is deprived of oxygen, it can impair their capacity to think and cause brain cell damage. There are severe weather conditions, low temperatures, and difficult routes. Even with the use of supplemental oxygen, many climbers who attempt the feat do not survive it.
Oxygen is essential for human survival because it is required by all cells in our body for energy production. Without adequate oxygen, we would be unable to live more than a few minutes. The atmosphere contains only 20 percent oxygen. The rest is mostly nitrogen. At ground level this mixture is enough to keep us alive because our blood is well-oxygenated even at high levels of activity.
As we ascend into the thinner air at higher altitudes, our blood becomes less saturated with oxygen. To compensate for this reduction in oxygen concentration, people living at high elevations need to supplement their oxygen supply. Oxygen masks used by pilots are effective because they allow them to breathe in more oxygen than would otherwise be available at their current elevation. On earth, humans have developed several methods for extracting oxygen from air. These methods include: ice climbing, traditional climbing, aid climbing, and oxygen technology. Climbers may need to utilize more than one method to reach the top of a mountain safely.