UCL News


UCL In the News: Older climbers three times as likely to die on Everest

15 August 2007

Research on more than 2,000 expeditions to the world's highest peak has shown that older climbers are more likely to fail and more likely to die on the mountain.

Those over 60 are three times as likely to die in their attempt compared with younger climbers. …

"They are often affluent and successful professional individuals who are used to achieving a variety of goals in their professional and personal life. Everest is one of those ticks," said Mike Grocott [UCL Centre for Aviation, Space & Extreme Environmental Medicine], an expert in intensive care medicine who led the Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition this year. But these people often come to the mountain with less physical and psychological experience of mountaineering and less climbing expertise, he said. …

Despite the increased risks for older people, Dr Grocott said that they could be managed if climbers were given the right advice and undertook the correct training and preparation. "You need some climbing experience and as a completely separate thing you need to find out how you can tolerate hypoxia - whether you get altitude illness. The best way of knowing that is to do it," he said.

James Randerson, 'The Guardian'