From the Archives: They Thought Smoking Helped at High Altitude!
We’re busy getting ready for the next exhibit at the Mountaineering Museum – Thin Air: An Exhibit on Altitude and Oxygen, November 3-May30, 2009. “Getting ready” means combing through the library and archives looking for supporting material and images. Here is one treasure from the John M. Boyle Himalayan Library:
Apparently, cutting-edge high altitude science as reported in the New York Tribune in 1924 included the belief that smoking cigarettes improved performance. Captain George Finch remarked of the 1923 expedition “Evidently there is apower in the cigarette and pipe which acts as a nerve stimulant in place of carbon dioxide…” and that when they ran out of cigarettes they resorted to their oxygen stash as second choice. The 1924 expedition was apparently well-provisioned with cigarettes so that a study could be made!
Player’s printed a set of 20 cigarette cards with photographs of the expedition.
All of the cards and the article can be viewed in the rare books room of the AAC Library, and of course these and many other interesting things will be part of the Thin Air exhibit.
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