Wednesday, August 09, 2006

So do you feel lucky, punk?

Remember this earlier article about my old geography teacher Mr Hann and the dreaded AMS? What a bummer to train for a year (well, slightly less in Steve's case), feel great on the way up and loving the whole experience.....only to be struck down by the dreaded altitude sickness a day or two short of the Kili summit, or even worse just shy of the top on that final scary night.
Rumour has it that AMS can affect anyone, regardless of fitness level, age, collar size or sexual orientation. So if it were possible, would you do something to minimise the AMS risk...and if so, how much would you be willing to pay?
Well, my resourceful missus has spotted just such an option. It's possible to train the body to expect the less than 50% of normal oxygen intake that we'll face approaching Kibo summit.
How? By using hypoxic training, a relatively new science and a hot area of interest amongst academics, making accessible something previously only available to a select few high performance athletes.
Why? It can prepare you for altitudes of up to 22,000 feet by boosting your red blood cells and general fitness. A nice secondary advantage for some people seems to be weight loss. And all just by breathing into a gizmo for a few hours.
How much? The initial consultation, including a health check, a hypoxic sensitivity test and a programme design, is £49. The AMS susceptibility test - to help predict how you’ll cope on the mountain by monitoring your blood oxygen saturation - is £10 as an add-on to the initial consultation. And then the actual hypoxic training is a breathtaking £299 for the standard course of 15 1-hour IHT sessions. Take a look around their website - there are interesting articles on how The Altitude Centre helped Cav Burke, a 49 year-old previously fat bastard French polisher, to summit Kili in 2005, how many professional athletes have used this to enhance their performance (Floyd Landis was spotted there recently), and a lot more about the scientific aspects.
So do you feel lucky, punk? Want to take your chances on the mountain like an adventurous amateur...or reduce the AMS risk before we hit Africa and pretend we're serious athletes? Go ahead...make my day.


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