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Say goodbye to Everest base camp — new study could make it obsolete

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Robert Pedigo
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Until now, the key to conquering Everest and other similar 8,000-kilometer peaks has been altitude acclimation at a series of base camps.

Climbers often spend weeks and sometimes even months at these higher-elevation camps to force their bodies to produce new red blood cells that are more efficient at carrying oxygen.

That s been the story for 50 years, says Robert Roach, a lead investigator at University of Colorado s Altitude Research Center, to Science.

This long-held practice is being challenged thanks to new research by Roach that suggests the body begins adapting to high elevations almost immediately, and that these changes persist for weeks even when the person returns to low altitudes.

For his AltitudeOmics, study, Roach and his team recruited 20 young people, brought them to Bolivia and dropped them on the summit of Mount Chacaltaya, a 5421-meter peak in the Andes.

By the end of the two weeks, everyone could finally complete the hike.

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