We have measured maximal heart rate during a graded maximal bicycle exercise test to exhaustion in five healthy climbers before and during an expedition to Mt. Everest. Maximal heart rates at sea level were 186 (177-204) beats/min(-1) at sea level and 170 (169-182) beats/min(-1) with acute hypoxia. After 1, 4 and 6 weeks of acclimatization to 5400 m, maximal heart rates were 155 (135-182), 158 (144-182), and 155 (140-183) beats/min(-1), respectively. Heart rates of two of the climbers were measured during their attempt to reach the summit of Mt. Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. The peak heart rates at 8,750 m for the two climbers were 142 and 144 beats/min(-1), which were similar to their maximal heart rates during exhaustive bicycle exercise at 5,400 m, the values being 144 and 148 beats/min(-1), respectively. The peak heart rates at 8,750 m are in agreement with other field studies, but considerably higher than values reported from hypobaric chamber studies.
High Altitude Medicine and Biology, 2001, Vol 2, Issue 1, p. 41-5