European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 8, pp 1589–1597 | Cite as

Koroška 8000 Himalayan expedition: digit responses to cold stress following ascent to Broadpeak (Pakistan, 8051 m)

  • Jurij GorjancEmail author
  • Shawnda A. Morrison
  • Adam C. McDonnell
  • Igor B. Mekjavic
Original Article



Cold-induced vasodilatation (CIVD) is a peripheral blood flow response, observed in both the hands and feet. Exercise has been shown to enhance the response, specifically by increasing mean skin temperatures (Tsk), in part due to the increased number of CIVD waves. In contrast, hypobaric hypoxia has been suggested to impair digit skin temperature responses, particularly during subsequent hand rewarming following the cold stimulus. This study examined the combined effect of exercise and hypobaric hypoxia on the CIVD response. We compared the CIVD responses in the digits of both the hands and feet of a team of alpinists (N = 5) before and after a 35-day Himalayan expedition to Broadpeak, Pakistan (8051 m).


Five elite alpinists participated in hand and foot cold water immersion tests 20 days before and immediately upon return from their expedition.


The alpinists summited successfully without supplemental oxygen. Post-expedition, all alpinists demonstrated higher minimum Tsk in their hands (pre: 9.9 ± 1.1, post: 10.1 ± 0.7 °C, p = 0.031). Four alpinists had either greater CIVD waves, and, consequently, higher mean Tsk in their hands, or higher recovery temperatures (pre: 26.0 ± 5.5 °C post: 31.0 ± 4.1 °C, p = 0.052), or faster rewarming rate (pre: 2.6 ± 0.5 °C min−1 post: 3.1 ± 0.4 °C min−1,p = 0.052). In the feet, the responses varied: 1/5 had higher wave amplitudes and 1/5 had higher passive recovery temperatures, whereas 3/5 had lower mean toe temperatures during cold exposure.


The results of the cold stress test suggest after a 35-day Himalayan expedition, alpinists experienced a slight cold adaptation of the hands, but not the feet.


Exercise High-altitude medicine Cold-induced vasodilatation 



Analysis of variance


Cold-induced vasodilatation


Area under the curve


Skin temperature



The authors express their gratitude to the dedicated alpinists who altruistically took part in this study.

Author contributions

JG, SAM, ACM, and IBM contributed to the conception and design of the work; JG, SAM, and ACM contributed to data acquisition; JG, SAM, ACM, and IBM contributed to the analysis and interpretation of the work; JG and SAM drafted the manuscript; JG, SAM, ACM, and IBM revised it critically, and approved the final submitted version.


No external funding was used for this research.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest is declared.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.St. John of God HospitalSt. Veit/GlanAustria
  2. 2.Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of PrimorskaIzolaSlovenia
  3. 3.Department of Automation, Biocybernetics and RoboticsJožef Stefan InstituteLjubljanaSlovenia
  4. 4.Department of Biomedical Physiology and KinesiologySimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

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