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What is the atmospheric pressure at the top of Elbrus?

What is the atmospheric pressure at the top of Elbrus-1

The main difficulty encountered by climbers while climbing Mount Elbrus, regardless of the route, weather, experience or season - it is the altitude. The influence of the altitude factor on the human body is due to an unusually low level of atmospheric pressure and, accordingly, a low level of oxygen in the air. The material presented below is rough explanation about how the level of atmospheric pressure affects the oxygen content in the air, as well as about the peculiarities of the effect of altitude on the human body at various geographical latitudes.

Let's find out how it works right from the start. What is atmospheric pressure? Imagine that we live at the bottom of the air ocean, and the thickness of the atmosphere above us is about 1000 km. The entire air cover of the earth is subject to the universal law of gravitation and, therefore, has a mass. The closer to the surface of the earth - the denser and “heavier” the atmosphere becomes - the greater the mass of the air column. Since our habitual environment is precisely the surface of the earth, atmospheric pressure at this level is familiar and comfortable to us. A proportional amount of oxygen, which is approximately 21% of the total volume, is directly related to air pressure. Oxygen is vital for all the processes taking place in our body - therefore, when gaining altitude during climbing mountains, it is the lack of oxygen that causes many difficulties and problems.

How atmospheric pressure depends on the altitude

To control the change in pressure, several conventional measurement systems have been adopted – one of the usual scales for us is millimeters of mercury. The norm for 99% of the world's population is a pressure of 760 mm, which corresponds to the altitudes of 0-100 meters above sea level. As you climb up above the surface of the earth, atmospheric pressure decreases - so, at an altitude of 1000 meters, atmospheric pressure will be 675 mm, and at the height of the summit of Mount Elbrus it will be 389 mm, which is almost half of the usual norm, including the proportional oxygen content. Atmospheric pressure at the highest peak of the Earth – Mount Everest is 265 mm (30% of normal) - this is far beyond the limits of normal human capabilities of surviving. The facts of oxygen-free ascents of Mount Everest tell us that the real possibilities of our body are much wider than is commonly believed.

The capabilities of the human body in terms of adaptation to external conditions, including the oxygen content in the air, are quite extensive. For example, it is claimed that the height of approximately 5,500 meters is the upper limit of a person’s living sphere - at this level some highland peoples live and even keep their household in Himalayas and Andes. Altitudes of more than 6500 meters with atmospheric pressure below 350 mm and an oxygen content of less than 40% of the norm are considered unsuitable for life. A person, without special means of supporting life, can stay at such altitude for a very limited time. This altitude level is called the "Death Zone" - full acclimatization is impossible at this altitude, and the body undergoes rapid irreversible changes - depending on the preliminary preparation and acclimatization, a person can survive at this altitude from several hours to several days.

How far the highest mountains of continents are located from the Equator

All the figures and calculations described above illustrate only the general principle of the relationship between altitude, atmospheric pressure and oxygen content in the air. This rule cannot be applied universally to all the mountains of the earth, since the oxygen content at the same altitudes above sea level in different geographical latitudes will be significantly different. The fact is that the air shell of the earth does not correspond to the shape of the globe - the largest thickness of the air layer corresponds to equatorial latitudes, the atmosphere thickness decreases to the poles. Accordingly, the influence of altitude will be more noticeable the further north or south we move from the equator. For example, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro - the peak with a height of 5895 m in Africa, located just 342 km south from the equator - can be done much more comfortable than climbing Mount Elbrus (5642 m high and 4810 km north from the equator) - lack of oxygen and effect of altitude on Mount Elbrus will be felt much stronger. The general rule in mountaineering - at equal altitudes, the summits become harder to climb as you move away from the equator - this factor should be taken into account when choosing a mountain and acclimatization schedule for those who plan to start climbing and choose their first truly high mountain.

Based on this rule, the complexity of the alpine climbing programs in our collection is determined not only by the physical altitude of the mountain, but, to a greater extent, by its geographical location. In accordance with these features, an appropriate acclimatization schedule is built up, which is necessary for a safe ascent to the summit - in order to maximize the chances of a success and reduce the risk of possible health problems.

Text — Alexey Trubachev, founder of the MCS AlexClimb mountaineering and climbing school.

What is the atmospheric pressure at the top of Elbrus-2

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AlexClimb Rule #1 - Safety First

From the very beginning of our activity, here nearly 16 years, the first Principle of work of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb is the Safety Priority. On the basis of this Principle all process of training is based, all programs and rounds are developed and carried out only within this main principle. We consider that at professional approach to development of programs, at personal discipline and correctly put motivation - occupations by mountaineering and rock-climbing are COMPLETELY safe. And from the return - all troubles and accidents in our sport come from nonprofessionalism, from ignorance or neglect by elementary standards of safety, from irrational motivation, from revaluation of own forces and opportunities. All these prerequisites we COMPLETELY EXCLUDE in our work - ours Rock-climbing, Ice climbing and Mountaineering are based on one Principle - the Safety Priority. In rock-climbing, mountaineering and ice climbing, the Priority of Safety of MCS AlexClimb-is your personal security and comfort irrespective of, than we are engaged - we train muscles and we work technology of the movement in the sports hall and on the rock climbing wall, we make the way through snowstorm to top or we relax on golden sand of the Caribbean beach after hot day of trainings on rocks. The Safety priority - the main credo of School of mountaineering and rock-climbing of MCS AlexClimb.

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Closely interacting with Nature, working with the active programs in mountains, woods, lakes and rivers, we perfectly understand the importance of carefull and respectfull bahavior towards the Nature, for its resources. From the very beginning of our outdoor-activity we adopted rules of  Leave No Trace technique - the standard of behavior of the person accepted in all the civilized world in relation to environment and especially - to the wild nature. After all on the relation of people to the nature near which they exist, itself can draw dalekoidushchy conclusions on the relation of these people to... Where and as we didn't travel - we don't reserve any garbage, we try to reduce whenever possible our influence on environment to a minimum. We clear earlier zagryazyonny tourist parking of the left garbage, we take out and we take out to utilization places that to us other people left there. We consider that only thus, at personal individual consciousness of each citizen, each tourist, climber or autotraveller, we will be able to keep the nature surrounding us in its state, natural, suitable for life, - in it pledge of the healthy future for ourselves and our children.

AlexClimb Rule #3 - Sober Concious

The position of AlexClimb Mountain and rockclimbing School regarding healthy lifestyle is quite clear - we consider that only sober consciousness is capable to fill sincere emotions,  to sympathize, to enjoy life in all its variety. Bright various enjoyable life is possible only on condition of keeping the absolute sobriety and purity of consciousness. Any way of obscuring our perception of reality is intended to do harm to our consciousness and bring harm to our physical health, to replace the true values by false ones, to destroy us physically - to turn us into flabby, weak, senseless, gray herd with empty hazy eyes. We don't force anybody to our point of view, everyone has a God's gift of making his own choice and to destroy himself if that is what he wants... But in AlexCilimb Mountain Climbing School we accept quite certain and very simple set of rules: neither alcohol, nor drugs.