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Khumbu cough

The relative humidity at high altitude is extraordinarily low, and almost invariably irritates the respiratory tract. The result is the infamous “Khumbu cough”, which can be serious enough to cause a person to cough hard enough to break a rib.

The best way to prevent it is to wear a mask that heats and moisturizes the air you breathe. A balaclava worn especially at night may be helpful. Many climbers use masks that can be found in cross-country ski stores. These masks have a metallic net inserted in a lightweight plastic or cloth shell and were originally developed for the Finnish Olympic ski team.