The following is a story of a bit of an incident that happened to me a couple of years ago when I was in Colorado Springs for a two week study intensive at Fuller Seminary. I arrived into Colorado Springs late Friday night and with lessons beginning Monday, I was keen to spend the weekend being a bit of a tourist. So Saturday morning, I caught a cab to The Cog Railway to spend the 70 minutes it takes to ascend to the top of Pikes Peak.
Now I basically live at sea level and Colorado Springs is about 5000 feet above sea level and the top of Pikes Peak is about 14,000 ft about sea level. I had failed to read the briefing from Fuller Seminary that recommended you spend a few day acclimatizing before going up the Peak. Anyway on the way up I sat next to a guy who was from Texas and we chatted for a bit. When we got to the top, Jason and I took photos for each other. You could definitely tell the air was thinner and the percentage of oxygen was less than normal. Just walking around I found myself a little short of breath but nothing major.
We were up there for about 40 minutes and then it was time to get back into the Cog Railway carriage for the trip down. As I was walking toward the carriage I remember thinking that I don’t feel so good. I got into the carriage and by this stage I was not feeling well at all and so thought I would sleep it off, so I put my head back to take a little nap. Then I was having this most bizarre dream. The dream was that there were several people standing over me and they were slapping me in the face saying, Mister Mister, wake up. In the slowest fashion, the dream slowly morphed into reality as I was regaining consciousness. What had happened was that I had passed out from altitude sickness and had landed head first onto the floor of the carriage. There was an off duty paramedic on board and a paediatric nurse on holidays from LA, both had come to my aid when I had used my face to break my fall. My sunglasses had cut the top my nose quite deeply and my forehead was bleeding – which was nothing substantial yet I am still scarred on my forehead. Anyway, Jason, the Texan guy I was sitting beside, grabbed my camera and took some photos. (Not the most flattering photos I will admit).
The Cog Railway driver had called an ambulance and said that they would take me to hospital for examination once we got to the bottom. By that stage I was fully conscious and so I said I wouldn’t go to hospital as I had only two days to be a tourist and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my Saturday in an American Hospital, so they cancelled the Ambulance. I was telling this story to Dr Robi Sondereggar (Clinical Psychologist who was preaching recently at Nowra City Church) and he was saying that it was good that I fell out of my seat as the danger with Altitude Sickness is that it turns into High Altitude Pulmonary Edema which is potentially fatal.
Probably should read my briefing sheets in the future.
Here are a few more photos from the top of Pikes Peak. If you ever get the opportunity to go up Pikes Peak – make sure you go.