UCL News


Press cutting: Over the hill? Never

17 February 2007

At a time when most people are trying to slow down the pace of their lives, Jacquetta Megarry could be described as a thrill seeker.

A latecomer to trekking and climbing, the 59-year-old grandmother gained a passion for mastering mountains after tackling the West Highland Way in Glencoe when she was in her early fifties.

This initial, and comparatively tame, adventure inspired a trip to ascend Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, four miles above sea level, which she has now climbed on three separate occasions by different routes. …

Jacquetta's next project involves acting as a guinea pig in the Xtreme Everest medical research programme run by UCL. When an opportunity arose to join 1,000 volunteers undertaking medical tests at altitude at Kalapattar, the base camp of Everest, she jumped at the chance. …

The £1.5 million Xtreme Everest research programme is studying the effects of altitude on the human body and will include setting up the world's highest medical lab, on the summit of Everest, to measure levels of oxygen in the blood. While the volunteers remain at base camp, a select team will ascend to the 29,028ft peak of Everest. The volunteers stationed at Kalapattar range in age from 18 to mid-seventies, and none are professional athletes. They'll undertake a series of arduous tests designed to study the effects of different levels of hypoxia (low blood oxygen) on the body. Hypoxia can affect blue babies, cystic fibrosis sufferers and people with severe heart and lung conditions.

For more information on Xtreme Everest, visit www.xtreme-everest.co.uk

Gaby Soutar, 'The Scotsman'