Overload

Climbing high mountains

Category: Actions

Type

Involuntary and voluntary

Introduction and description

Climbing is the activity of using one's hands and feet (or indeed any other part of the body) to ascend a steep object. It is done both for recreation (to reach an inaccessible place, or for its own enjoyment) and professionally, as part of activities such as maintenance of a structure, or military operations”.

Background

 

You can of course climb a hill, but you are not likely to get a spiritual experience.  The sort of climbing that produces results is high altitude climbing and it is no accident that ancient religions used very high mountains for religious ceremonies.  The Inca, the Buddhists, the Africans, the Japanese and the Native American Indians, for example, all revered high mountains and also built shrines and performed ceremonies there.

How it works

Being at high altitude causes Altitude sickness. High altitude is greater than 8,000 feet and extreme altitude is greater than 19,000 feet. About 20% of people ascending above 9,000 feet in one day, for example,  will develop altitude sickness – for more detail see Altitude sickness.

Altitude sickness occurs because the air contains less oxygen at higher altitudes. Therefore, there is a lower amount of oxygen for an individual to breathe. In effect altitude sickness is a form of Hypoxia.

 

Some contribution may be made by Hypothermia particularly if it is very cold, and there is an additional contribution from the form of Frenetic exercise needed to climb mountains of this sort. The danger may also result in Overwhelming fear and terror.  Note that one or more of these problems may result in the release of Endorphins.  Endorphins are addictive, which may explain the compulsion many climbers have to keep climbing and climbing and climbing.

Observations

Hallucinations are not uncommon in the Himalayas. Reinhold Messner describes hearing voices that helped his route-finding as well as seeing his father as a young climber during his return to Nanga Parbat. This is mentioned in the book "To the Top of the World".

The books of Bonington, Tasker, and Boardman mention seeing ghost-like climbers in archaic clothing and brandishing archaic gear. In one of the books, Nick Estcourt describes being followed up an early morning climb from an advanced base camp and thinking it was a Sherpa. As the figure came closer, he noticed old tattered clothing and then the figure vanished.

Related observations