The study of high-altitude illness, both
its obvious and hidden causes, as well as its
detrimental and sometimes fatal affects on the human
body has brought a dedicated and adventurous brand of
physician to Everest over the years. Some are drawn by
the need to experience the illness and to study it
first-hand. Some are drawn by the thrill of the mountain
itself and some by a bit of both.
For Dr. Christopher Pizzo that meeting of medical and
mountaineering occurred on Oct 24, 1981 when he summited Everest as a member
of John West's American Medical Research Expedition. Pizzo took measurements
of conditions, including the first ever direct measurement of the atmospheric
pressure (one of the presumed culprits in high-altitude illness) atop Everest.
Pizzo was the
110th person and the tenth American to summit Everest. His mountaineering
career also includes summits of Aconcagua in South America, the Peak of
Communism, the highest mountain in the former USSR, as well as several other
20,000-plus foot peaks in the Himalayas. He was the second American to climb
three of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter mountains including Shishapangma
(Tibet) and Makalu.