John Ridley Stroop first reviewed this phenomenon in a Ph.D. thesis published in 1935, and over 700 articles have been written about it since.
Current theories on the Stroop effect emphasize the interference that automatic processing of words has on the more "effortful" task of just naming the colors. The task of selecting an appropriate response—when given two conflicting conditions—has tentatively been located in a part of the brain called the anterior cingulate. This region lies between the right and left halves of the frontal portion of the brain, and is involved in a wide range of thought processes and emotional responses.
Although the functions of the anterior cingulate are very complex, broadly speaking it acts as a conduit between lower, more impulse-driven brain regions and higher, more rationally-driven behaviors.
Perhaps the Stroop effect's sensitivity to changes in brain function is related to its association with the anterior cingulate. In any case, the Stroop Test may provide interesting insight into cognitive effects that might be experienced by climbers on the NOVA "Alive on Everest" expedition.