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Climbing the Walls

A different kind of altitude sickness: psychosis

HEALTH

CLIMBING TO THE “DEATH ZONE” is perilous. Scaling mountains to heights where planes fly and there’s little oxygen can trigger extreme responses. There is no shortage of personal accounts of mountain climbers, alone at high altitudes, losing their grip on reality. One man who climbed Mount Everest recounts how, thousands of feet up, a climber named “Jimmy” appeared out of the darkness, said “hello” and climbed behind him before disappearing. Now, doctors are taking a closer look at such stories.

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