On this day in 1980, Italian Reinhold Messner completed the first solo ascent of Mt. Everest. Without oxygen. The highest peak on Mt. Everest is some 29,000 feet above sea level. When you get that high up, the levels of oxygen in the air drop dramatically. Think about having to take three breaths for every one closer to sea level. This, while performing the most physically demanding ascent in the world. Lower oxygen levels, beyond simply causing difficulty in physical exertion, also takes its toll on brain power. Combine that with freezing temperatures and the need to make quick, accurate decisions, makes attempting Mt. Everest without oxygen a monumental task.
I live in a place that is about a mile above sea level. Right around 5000 feet. When I first moved out here from Florida, I could barely climb stairs without gasping for breath. It would be pretty interesting to find out how Mr. Messner trained for this. How does one prepare to not breath and climb at the same time?
Anyway, any mountain climbers out there? Share some stories, or make some up!