Into Thin Air

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20030523

As mountaineers prepare to celebrate the golden jubilee of the first conquest of Everest, Tim Malyon examines the psychological drive and physiological consequences of the high altitude climb.

Thoroughout history, reaching any 8000m peak has been dogged by mountain sickness, hallucinations and a slowing down of all body functions in even the fittest of climbers.

Where do the physical and mental limits of human endurance lie during the epic ascent into thin air?