The research reports can be found here.
The media coverage of the research reports can be found here.
Mountaineering and trekking expeditions to peaks and routes at very high altitudes have become increasingly popular in the last twenty years, and these efforts sometimes come at a high price: A considerable number of mountaineers suffer from high altitude related illnesses such as acute mountain sickness or even high altitude cerebral or pulmonary edema. Although these hypoxia associated illnesses are quite frequent, little is known about their cause. More knowledge is necessary to effectively recognize, prevent and treat these potentially fatal illnesses. A group of high-altitude experienced physicians and researchers from Zurich, Berne and Aarau want to explore the human adaptation to high altitudes.
In the summer of 2005 this group will conduct an expedition to Muztagh Ata (7546m) in western China at the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan. During the expedition several high altitude medical research projects will be carried out.
The 36 subjects of the research projects will be examined before, during and after the expedition according to an elaborate study protocol. The mountain will be climbed in two groups of eighteen people, adhering to two different schedules which both assure good acclimatization. During the climb examinations will be carried out by the research team at different altitudes up to 7000m. The entire research protocol will be reviewed by the ethical committee of the University of Zurich.
We will fly to Islamabad, Pakistan, and from there the journey follows the Karakoram Highway by jeep. It is a five hour walk from the road to the base camp, and camels will carry the equipment. The summit will be attempted by the normal route with skis, and three high camps are planned.
The principal expedition leaders are Tobias Merz and Urs Hefti who carried out a successful high altitude research expedition to Shisha Pangma (8046m) in Tibet in 2001.
The main researchers are Marco Maggiorini and Konrad Bloch from the University of Zurich. Both are very experienced researchers and Marco Maggiorini has a worldwide reputation in the field of high altitude medical research. Other scientists from different medical fields from University Hospitals of Zurich and Berne and from the cantonal hospital of Aarau will complete the team.
Kari Kobler and his mountain guide team will provide the necessary technical and logistic support to guarantee optimal research conditions even at a very high altitude. Kari is well recognized for his success as a leading commercial expedition organizer, which includes multiple climbs of Mount Everest and K2.
We want to conduct state of the art research even under these very difficult external circumstances. Team spirit and the willingness of every single expedition member to contribute to the work is needed to realize the project. We intend a fair collaboration with our local partners and sponsors. Reputable coverage through print media as well as television will be part of the undertaking.
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