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Everest—The Death Zone

Program Overview


The human body is highly adaptable to change. It adjusts when you vigorously exercise, move in and out of different temperatures, or face stressful situations. But what about when your body is pushed to extremes, like those of climbers attempting to summit Mt. Everest, which rises 8,848 m (29,028 ft) above sea level? In this environment, climbers confront an atmosphere of one-third less oxygen than at sea level and life-threatening, frigid temperatures. This episode of NOVA follows a doctor at Everest's Base Camp who tracks and analyzes the effects of this harsh environment on climbers' bodies and cognitive functions. The data reveal to what extent these climbers' bodies can adapt and survive at high altitudes.

Camp Altitudes
The most common route up the South Face of Everest consists of five camps at different altitudes.

Diagram of Everest, with altitudes of base camp, four upper camps, and summit marked

Teacher's Guide
Everest—The Death Zone
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