UIAA Guide on High Altitude Drug Use

Drug use and misuse in the mountains: a UIAA MedCom consensus guide for medical professionals.

“Since the earliest days of recreational mountaineering, climbers have tried various drugs to enhance their experiences. Whisky has been used at the end of a hard Scottish mountain day (Ogilvie, 1976), supplementary oxygen at altitude for Everest expeditions since 1922 (Bruce, 1923), methamphetamine to aid endurance (Buhl, 1998), cannabis and psychostimulants on big wall bivouacs (Mortimer and Rosen, 2014), cocaine for solo climbing (Perrin, 1978), drug cocktails to aid acclimatization (Freer, 2015), acetazolamide to facilitate fast ascents of Kilimanjaro to minimize the daily mountain fee, despite the risks involved (Küpper et al., 2010), and drug use on Mont Blanc (Robach et al., 2016).” (From High Altitude Medicine & Biology)

In 2004, the topic of drug use in the mountains was informally discussed, then formally acknowledged, then agreed on, then published in an advice article, adopted by the UIAA and published on their website in 2014.

It immediately became apparent that a more technical version of the article was needed for medical professionals advising mountaineers and work on this article has taken a further 2 years.” Here goes the latest.

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