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Drugs and Money Conquer Everest


 

by Unknown

June 12, 2001

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

Now that the season for Everest has closed for another year, perhaps it is appropriate to stand back and gauge what is happening there. Commercialism has not so much crept in as yomped its way to base camp. Worryingly, money and drugs now seem to be the factors driving mountaineers up the world's most famous peak and the bonhomie that once graced the sport has all but disappeared. This year there were several thefts, including that of a primus stove at 26,000ft, and several occasions when climbers chose not to help to rescue people in dire trouble.

Most alarmingly there is increasing evidence that climbers are resorting to performance-enhancing drugs to help them up the mountain. Unlike drug use in controlled sports the practice is not illegal, but it is immoral and dangerous - both to the users and to those who have to rescue them.

A number of sherpas report this trend, including one who told me in the presence of a government liaison officer that he had climbed with an American who had used drugs. The American had collapsed and almost died when he descended but had claimed to have made the summit from the south col in just six hours - faster than the sherpas he was climbing with. Those same sherpas reported that he was swallowing tablets all the way to the top.

Quite which drugs are being used is unclear but one choice appears to be dexamethasone, a steroid used as an emergency treatment on those suffering from altitude sickness and who need to get back down the mountain quickly. Instead of taking one shot as prescribed, climbers are using several shots on the way up.

Read the rest of the story at The Sunday Times.



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