Altitude sickness stopped intrepid explorer Alex Staniforth from reaching the peak of one of the world’s highest mountains.
Alex, from Kelsall, reached 7,125m on Cho Oyu (8,201m) in the Himalayas before developing AMS, which can have deadly consequences. Alex has visited the region twice before in attempts to scale Everest but was thwarted the last time by an earthquake and avalanche.
His latest climb has raised lots of cash for Young Minds UK, a mental health charity.
Alex explained that he was feeling strong at 6,000m but a day of climbing at high altitude knocked the stuffing out of him.
“It was only 700m of height gain but one of the most painful days of my life, albeit the highest I’d ever been. The team delayed until the following day due to bad weather so we hung back, ate and hydrated.
“Pre-summit nerves are not unusual but I felt horrendous. My oxygen was switched on but didn’t seem to stop the nausea, headache or dizziness as we set off. I couldn’t even walk in a straight line. There was a relentless snow slope beneath a sickly starlit sky and I had barely made it 20 mins out of camp before I knew from my limited experience knew something wasn’t right.
“It’s just a mind game” I told myself, trying every motivational technique I knew in the book. I slept for a few hours on oxygen like a deflated Michelin man, then in the morning was given Dexamethasone for AMS. I then descended with the rest of the summiteers which also turned out to be a slightly knackering day – even for me having not summited! After being ill a couple of times en-route in the baking heat and getting held up at the ice wall for a while I was simply glad to be going down… unfortunately lying around complaining doesn’t get you down the hill.”
Alex added: “I’m feeling pretty rough but very pleased for my teammates and enjoying celebrating both their success of summiting and getting us all down safety.
“At the start of the trip I remember being so ill I thought I was going home – I was told that my chances of success were slim and even that I should take up sailing instead! All things considered I’m pleased with how far I got, the lessons taken on board and that I can now close one chapter to open another. The journey has never been about the summits.”