American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Going Higher: the Story of Man at Altitude

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  • Publication Year: 1985

Going Higher: the Story of Man at Altitude. Charles S. Houston, M.D. Published by Charles S. Houston, M.D., 77 Ledge Road, Burlington, Vermont 05401. 288 pages; illustrated with drawing, black-and-white photographs and 8 pages of color photographs. Appendices, Index. $10.00

Charles Houston is one of the world’s leading mountain scientists and his publication in 1960 in the New England Journal of Medicine of a paper on High Altitude Pulmonary Edema focused the attention of both doctors and mountaineers to the occurrence of this important clinical entity.

This, the second edition of his book, Going High, contains recent advances that have taken place in mountain medicine. Many of these have been presented and discussed at regular meetings in North America at two-yearly intervals organized by Charles Houston and John Sutton. The latest was at Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada in February 1985. These have been a meeting place for physiologists, physicians, mountaineers and rescue workers from all over the world and by their existence have stimulated research.

The clinical section of this book has been expanded whilst the physiological section gives up-to-date information in an easily understood form. The historical part, which has not changed much, is an excellent account of man’s faltering attempts to understand his natural environment and how this has been vital to his exploration of the high mountains. The anecdotal comments on the intellectual giants makes them more human and understandable and also underlines the fact that discoveries come often in illogical surges rather than as a steady flow.

The last part of the book has what may be its most important practical application, namely a chapter and notes on who may not go high. The chapter on women at altitude is probably opposite at the present time, but in later editions may be incorporated into the general text. In later editions too it might be worthwhile saying more about cold injury, for it is the combination of cold and high altitude which is particularly lethal and which imposes severe limitations on performance.

All those who are interested or who go into the mountains for work or leisure can read this book with profit and it has given me great pleasure to review it.

Michael Ward, M.D., Alpine Club

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