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Ask someone to name the high mountain ranges of the world and they will most likely name the Himalayas and the Andes. Most people don’t know that the mountains of Europe are high enough to cause people to suffer from high altitude illnesses. In fact many holiday makers and novice climbers in the Alps will often know little or nothing about high altitude illness. High altitude headaches on tourist trips are possible, and some people will suffer from other problems too.

In the Alps it is easy for people to get to high altitude really quickly and easily using cable cars, mountain railways and ski lifts. Many of the mountain passes have high points that are over 2,000m.

Climbing trips in the Alps or in parts of Eastern Europe can also put you at risk of altitude related illness – especially when sleeping in the mountain huts.

A family of four took the mountain railway from Grindelwald (1,034m) to the Jungfraujoch, walked up to the hut at 3,650m and had a picnic. After about 4 hours at altitude, the 11 year old complained bitterly of a headache. The family descended on foot and then by train. The boy was sick on the descent. On reaching the valley he swiftly recovered. His symptoms were caused by Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) which the family had never heard of.

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