Skip to content


  • Meeting abstract
  • Open Access

Koroška 8000: digit responses to cold stress following himalayan expedition to broadpeak, Pakistan (8051 m)

  • 1Email author,
  • 2,
  • 3, 4,
  • 3 and
  • 3
Extreme Physiology & Medicine20154 (Suppl 1) :A43

  • Published:


  • Cold Stress
  • Hypobaric Hypoxia
  • Cold Water Immersion
  • Passive Recovery
  • CIVD Response


We investigated the effects chronic hypobaric hypoxia exposure would have on alpinists' physiological adaptations, including: aerobic fitness, body composition, haematological variables and digit perfusion responses to cold stress, performed before and immediately after a 35 day high altitude climbing expedition.


Seven elite Slovenian alpinists completed a battery of physiological tests, including a cold stress test protocol previously used to determine changes in digit temperatures [13]. Briefly, alpinists immersed their hand or foot (random order) into a circulated, warm water bath (35°C) for 5 min to standardise skin temperature, and then in a cold water bath (8°C) for 30 min. Individual digit temperatures (thermocouples) were measured continuously for each min during the protocol, and for an additional 10 min of passive recovery in air.


5/7 alpinists successfully summited Broadpeak (8051 m elevation). Of those alpinists, 4/5 demonstrated higher cold-induced vasodilation (CIVD) wave amplitudes in mean finger temperatures, or higher recovery temperatures, (or both), post-expedition. In the feet, 1/5 had higher wave amplitudes, 1/5 had higher passive recovery temperatures, whereas 2/5 had lower mean toe temperatures during cold exposure, and one had no discernible alterations post-expedition. One alpinist declined participation in the cold stress testing in this expedition because he had previously completed an identical protocol and reported extreme discomfort in his digits during the cold water immersion phase of testing. Area under the curve calculations for the hands found 5/5 alpinists had higher values post-expedition, whilst in the toes, 3/5 had higher values compared to pre-expedition.


Previous results have demonstrated a significant enhancement of the CIVD response in both fingers and toes of alpinists returning from high altitude expeditions 1 and following 15-months of military training in the cold, 4 whilst others have reported variable differences following repeated cold exposure, depending on altitude 5. Vasodilatation and vasoconstriction responses are non-generalisable between hands and feet 3. It is not clear whether uniform peripheral cold adaptation per se occurs in both hands and feet following combined exposure to high altitude and cold in this particular population.


Alpinists presented vastly different digit responses to cold stress after exposure to hypobaric hypoxia.

Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Surgery, Hospital of the Brothers of St. John of God, Spitalgasse 26, A-9300 Sankt Veit an der Glan, Austria
Science and Research Centre, University of Primorska, Garibaldijeva 1, Koper, Slovenia
Department of Automation, Biocybernetics and Robotics, Jožef Stefan Institute, Jamova 39, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Jozef Stefan International Postgraduate School, Jamova Cesta 39, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia


  1. Felicijan A, Goja P, Milčinski M, Cheung SS, Mekjavic IB: Enhancement of cold-induced vasodilatation following acclimatization to altitude. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2008, 104 (2): 201-206. 10.1007/s00421-008-0720-z.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Amon M, Keramidas ME, Kounalakis SN, Mekjavic IB: The Effect of a Sleep High-Train Low Regimen on the Finger Cold-Induced Vasodilation Response. High Alt Med Biol. 2012, 13 (1): 32-39. 10.1089/ham.2011.1044.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Cheung SS, Mekjavic IB: Cold-induced vasodilatation is not homogenous or generalizable across the hand and feet. Eur J Appl Physiol. 2007, 99 (6): 701-705. 10.1007/s00421-006-0383-6.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Brandstrom H, Grip H, Hallberg P, Gronlund C, Angquist K-A, Giesbrecht GG: Hand cold recovery responses before and after 15 months of military trainig in a cold climate. Aviat Space Envir MD. 2008, 79 (9): 904-908. 10.3357/ASEM.1886.2008.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  5. Daanen H, van Ruiten H: Cold-induced peripheral vasodilation at high altitude- a field study. High Alt Med Biol. 2000, 1 (4): 323-329. 10.1089/15270290050502390.View ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar


© Gorjanc et al. 2015

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.