Alexander Mitchell Kellas

Alexander Mitchell Kellas (died 1921) was a Scottish chemist, explorer, and mountaineer known for his studies of high-altitude physiology.He was born in Aberdeen, Scotland.Jill Neate, "High Asia: An illustrated guide to the 7,000 metre peaks", The Mountaineers, 1989, ISBN 0-89886-238-8.]

Himalayan Club Vice President Meher Mehta characterised Kellas' papers "A Consideration of the Possibility of Ascending the Loftier Himalaya" and "A Consideration of the Possibility of Ascending Mt Everest" as "key catalysts in driving scientific thinking into climbing big peaks. His studies included the physiology of acclimatization in relationship to important variables like altitude, barometric pressures, alveolar PO2, arterial oxygen saturation, maximum oxygen consumption, and ascent rates at different altitudes. He had concluded that Mt Everest could be ascended by men of extreme physical and mental constitution without supplementary oxygen if the physical difficulties of the mountain were not too great."Meher Mehta (Vice President, Himalayan Club), "The Lure of Kamet," in the "Kamet Commemorative Souvenir", Kolkata Section, Himalayan Club, 2006; 160 pages. (Commemorating 75 years after the first ascent; an exhaustive anthology of articles by famous mountaineers, plus maps, routes and rare historical photographs, including those taken by Frank Smythe.)]

In 1978, Kellas' suggestion was verified by Reinhold Messner and Peter Habeler when they made the first ascent of Mount Everest without artificial oxygen. However, Kellas was also one of the earliest scientists to suggest use of artificial oxygen on high mountains such as Mount Everest; the first ascent of Everest and most subsequent ascents (as well as some ascents of lower peaks) have done so. A distant relative (Simon Kellas) is now employed by The Physiological Society (UK).

Kellas was also a noted mountaineer in his own right. By 1910 he had made ten first ascents of peaks over 6,000 m (19,685 ft) including Pauhunri, 7,125 m (23,376 ft), in Sikkim, which was the highest peak climbed up to that point.

Kellas died of a heart attack in 1921 on his way from Sikkim to the first expedition to Everest. He had had only a brief rest of 9 days after an arduous expedition to Kabru.

References


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