Next time, 'go' before you go.
Fans of Jon Krakauer's "Into Thin Air" who have made
reservations to scale North America's highest peak this summer
(because their vacation is too short to get them to Everest) are in for
a shocking sight and perhaps a case of "Sasquatch's
revenge." Diarrhea plagued at least one-quarter of the 132 climbers
who spent time in the base camp at 17,200 feet while scaling Mount
McKinley's 20,320 feet from June 11-14, 2002, according to a report
in the journal Wilderness and Environmental Medicine. The source of the
contagion appears to be piles of infectious human waste left like fecal
cairns on the snow around the base camp. The same unsanitary conditions
exist on Mount Rainier and on Himalayan peaks, according to
CNN.com's report on the research. The best ways to avoid infection
at 17,000 feet are largely the same as precautions at sea level: washing
hands, using water purification tablets, avoiding overcrowded housing,
and removing waste. The mountain's ice pack makes burial out of the
question. Rangers at Denali National Park now issue "clean mountain
cans" with which each climber can haul out their products of
digestion. Climbers' disappointment with the filth they find after
hours of arduous mountaineering was summed up by researcher Bradford D.
Gessner, M.D., who told CNN.com: "They think they're going on
a pristine climb and there's virus-laden poo all around them."