Can you survive at any altitude? Take the quiz!


In theory, you can survive at any altitude. After all, astronauts survive in space. If we're talking about surviving without the use of any special equipment … well, your options are a bit more limited. Test your knowledge and take our quiz!

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Question 1 of 20

In mountain climbing, the "death zone" is the maximum altitude at which the body can adapt without the help of supplemental oxygen. What altitude is this?

11,000 feet (3,352 meters)
19,000 feet (5,791 meters)
26,000 feet (7,925 meters)

... The human body cannot acclimate to the high altitude of the 26,000-foot (7,925-meter) death zone without supplemental oxygen.


Question 2 of 20

High altitude can cause a woman to skip a period or two.

This only happens in older, perimenopausal women.

... At high altitudes, women might skip menstrual cycles or notice changes in the timing or lengths of their cycles.


Question 3 of 20

The town of La Rinconada in Peru is the highest inhabited town on Earth. How high is the town?

9,200 feet (2,800 meters)
11,400 feet (3,475 meters)
16,700 feet (5,090 meters)

... Only miners live in La Rinconada, which is considered at the top of the "survivable" height for long-term living at 16,700 feet (5,090 meters).


Question 4 of 20

What should you do to help decrease the effects of high altitude?

Drink more and eat less for the first few days.
Spend a night at an altitude of 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) before ascending further.
Move as little as possible.

... If you're planning on reaching altitudes higher than 8,200 feet (2,499 meters) -- after which you enter "extreme altitude" -- stopping for a day or two at 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,524 to 1,829 meters) can help your body adjust before you push it further. It's also good to drink plenty of water, but keep eating.


Question 5 of 20

At higher altitudes, your body produces more ________ .

bodily fluids
red blood cells

... The red blood cells help carry more oxygen through your bloodstream and to your organs and muscles.


Question 6 of 20

High-altitude pulmonary edema is the accumulation of fluid in the lungs. Most cases occur at what altitude?

15,200 feet (4,633 meters) or higher
10,200 feet (3109 meters) or higher
8,200 feet (2,499 meters) or higher

... Some people are more susceptible than others to the condition, which can occur at altitudes of 8,200 feet (2,499 meters) and higher. It depends on the altitude you normally live at, or if you've been away from your mountain home for some time and reascend quickly.


Question 7 of 20

Aside from altitude sickness, being at high elevations also puts you at risk for ________ .

muscle injuries

... The higher you go, the more intense the rays from the sun become. You should wear sunscreen and sunglasses with UV coating, even in winter.


Question 8 of 20

Once you reach an altitude of 24,600 feet (7,498 meters), what becomes almost impossible?


... At these altitudes, sleep is very difficult and it's hard for the body to digest food, because the body naturally suppresses its functions to enhance cardiovascular output.


Question 9 of 20

Out-of-shape people are more susceptible to altitude sickness than athletes.

only true at certain high altitudes

... Acute mountain sickness is at least partially genetic and has nothing to do with physical conditioning. Somebody in great shape is just as likely to get altitude sickness as an overweight, out-of-shape person -- at any higher altitude.


Question 10 of 20

High-altitude cerebral edema is usually fatal. It starts as altitude sickness and eventually causes:

loss of memory
all of the above

... A person who has high-altitude cerebral edema can have hallucinations first, then memory loss. Eventually, he or she might lapse into a coma. To survive, the person must descend and receive treatment at a lower altitude.


Question 11 of 20

The most common symptom you'll experience at high altitude is ________ .

faster breathing
increased thirst

... Because the air is thinner, your lungs have to struggle to get enough oxygen, so you breathe faster.


Question 12 of 20

Why is it difficult to exercise at higher altitude?

less oxygen in your blood
less oxygen in the air
less muscle strength

... There's essentially the same amount of oxygen in the air, but the air pressure is lower, dispensing the molecules. Once you reach an altitude of 8,200 feet (2,499 meters) or more, the oxygen in your blood can decrease by up to 90 percent.


Question 13 of 20

Most people can go up to ________ without experiencing any side effects.

8,000 feet (2,438 meters)
5,000 feet (1,524 meters)
3,500 feet (1,067 meters)

... Although you can experience all sorts of effects beginning at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters), the most serious side effects don't kick in until an altitude of 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) or more, except in those prone to altitude sickness.


Question 14 of 20

Long-term acclimation is a slow process. If you live in Florida, but want to spend the summer in the peaks around Telluride, Colo., how long will it take you to acclimate to the peaks' 13,000-foot (3,962-meter) altitude?

6 days
26 days
46 days

... Long-term acclimation is a process that causes your body to increase pulmonary artery pressure so it can function better and become more effective at oxygenating blood; it can take up to 46 days, or the better part of your summer!


Question 15 of 20

Which of the following is a common symptom of high-altitude pulmonary edema that suggests you need urgent medical attention?

chest tightness or compression

... People with high-altitude pulmonary edema who have compression or tightness in their chests should get care right away. They also have difficulty breathing and can experience rapid heartbeats and central cyanosis (blue skin color).


Question 16 of 20

Which type of athlete might be more likely to set a record when competing at high altitudes?

competitive strength athletes
explosive event athletes
endurance sport athletes

... Athletes in explosive, out-of-the-block events such as triple jump or 100-meter sprints can record better results at higher altitudes, since there's less atmospheric resistance. Endurance athletes often train at high altitudes simply to improve their fitness.


Question 17 of 20

Although most people traveling to high altitudes experience some problems, only ________ of them ever develop high-altitude pulmonary edema requiring treatment.

8 percent
4 percent
1 percent

... Only about 1 percent of people at high altitudes develop the condition -- but that's at up to 13,000 feet (3,962 meters), which is as high as most of us experience in our lifetimes.


Question 18 of 20

To decrease or avoid symptoms of altitude sickness, you should eat less ________ .

liquid meals

... It's good to avoid salty foods, because they make you retain fluid. Reducing caffeine and alcohol intake also helps.


Question 19 of 20

Symptoms of extreme altitude sickness usually develop after ________ at high altitude.

two to three hours
two to three days
two to three weeks

... Blood oxygen levels drop to 90 percent or less once in just a few days once you reach altitudes of 19,000 feet (5,791 meters) or more -- and your body can start to show it if you have altitude sickness.


Question 20 of 20

Which of the following is an unexpected side effect of high altitude?

joint pain reduction
weight loss
better sleep

... Researchers believe that high altitude increases basal metabolic rate and causes your body to burn more calories, leading to slight weight loss.


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