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Monday, 21 June 2010

Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC)

Photo: The Mountain Company's PAC bag

The Mountain Company took delivery of our second Portable Altitude Chamber ("PAC") last week. We have one PAC permanently based in Kathmandu for our Nepal treks and our second PAC will be stored in our London office for use on our western led treks in Pakistan, Ladakh and Kilimanjaro. We send a PAC bag on all of our western led treks in Nepal and the following treks in other countries: K2 & Gondogoro La, Snow Lake and Hispar La and Stok Kangri expedition.

So what is a PAC and what is it used for?
This equipment is used to treat altitude illnesses called Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE). PAC works by increasing the pressure in the chamber using a foot pump, at high altitude the increased pressure simulates a descent in altitude by increasing the amount of oxygen to the victim.

If someone has HAPE or HACE the only treatment is immediate and rapid descent to a lower altitude however this is not always possible to do. PAC can be used to improves the person's condition before descending to safe altitude or to stabilise while waiting for helicopter evacuation. If a person has AMS the PAC can be used to abolish symptoms prior to further ascent.

Further information on PAC bags please take a look at Treksafe website

Photo: contents of PAC bag

We encourage anyone planning to trek at high altitude to read as much as possible about acclimatisation and high altitude illnesses before departure. I have copied links to several excellent internet resources below:

Roland Hunter

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The Mountain Company