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Climbing Without Oxygen

Why do we climb without oxygen?
The simple answer is because we can. We chose our parents wisely and were lucky enough to grow up, live, and train in the mountains of Colorado. After many years of climbing to high altitudes, our bodies have learned to adapt to the harsh, oxygen deprived environment. That doesn't mean we don't feel the effects of altitude, we do. The first time we go above 14,000 feet on a big mountain we all feel the familiar signs of a headache, loss of appetite, and lethargy. That is all part of the natural acclimatization process so we always try to go slow, give our bodies time to adjust, drink plenty of fluids, and take Aspirin/Advil as needed.

Climbing and Skiing Without Oxygen from 8KPeak on Vimeo.

The more complex answer is that we climb without oxygen because we choose to experience the mountains to their full extent and all that goes with it. We don't see mountains as objectives to be conquered, don't try to bring the mountain down to our level, and don't stack the deck in our favor with the only goal of topping out. We view expeditions as vacations; they are opportunities to see different parts of the world, experience different cultures, meet new people, and hangout and laugh with friends.
Jim Gile on North Ridge of Everest, 2007
Jim Gile on North Ridge of Everest, 2007

Mike and Steve Marolt heading to C3 with Everest summit in background, 2007

Jesse, Jim, Steve, Ham, and Mike at the base of Chimborazo, 2010

Steve, Mike, Kevin, JO, and Jim summit of Cotopaxi, 2005