Things stumbled upon not-quite-at-random

The deaths of 8 climbers on Mount Everest in 1996–a particularly deadly season on the mountain–could have been linked to a drop in barometric pressure.

During the first week of that month [May], Mount Everest lay beneath a zone of abnormally high atmospheric pressure, says Kent Moore, a physicist at the University of Toronto… By May 11, the previous week’s high barometric pressure had plummeted by about 5 percent. Although that may not sound like much, atop Mount Everest it’s enough to reduce a climber’s oxygen intake by 14 percent.

Most of what I know about that expedition comes from Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air. (A book I actually reference, briefly and indirectly, in Tiernay West, Professional Adventurer (working title).) Fascinating reading, and it made me realize that while there are many adventuresome things I dream of doing (some within the realm of my abilities, some not), climbing Mount Everest simply is not one of them.

Maybe it comes of having mild asthma. The thought of a place where even those with perfectly healthy lungs struggle for air makes me want to go out and do something more sensible, like crossing the ocean in a sailboat or searching for a few emperor penguin eggs.

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