Morgan's dad wrote this (one of my good friends from BITD). He also wrote the book "The other brain" which is really good. Great scientist and climber. I am sure they would both be psyched to know there is a thread on about this.
"..Fayed continues, pointing to the scans of eight amateur climbers whose MRIs were taken in 1998..."
"On 15,771-foot Mont Blanc, for example, seven trekkers reached the summit in 1998 without experiencing any symptoms of mountain sickness. When scanned a few days later, three showed major abnormalities."
Maybe it is just how the writer portrays the research, but it seems like with the increase in popularity of climbing high peaks in the last 15 years, the researcher might have some additional or more recent data.?
I think the evidence is pretty clear that lack of oxygen kills brain cells. You can only acclimate so high, and many, if not most, people who travel to climb at any altitude do not fully acclimate - even if they feel ok. Therefore, I think it is fair to say that climbing at altitude (even "lower" altitude) kills brain cells. That being said, we have a ton of brain cells and we use only a small portion of our brain. Thus, the more important question is to determine: (1) whether climbing at altitude kills enough brain cells to be problematic; (2) whether climbing kills specific brain cells, the loss of which is problematic; and (3) what limits need to be placed to avoid damage, if any, from this. That is, does climbing Everest 5 times leave you like a boxer who was hit too many times or not? Does climbing Mt. Rainier cause any lasting problems? How many days at what altitude with what blood oxygen saturation level causes problems, and are those problems lasting, etc.?