Extreme Adventure News is reporting that tennis great Martina Navratilova was forced to abandon her bid to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro yesterday after suffering from HAPE, or High Altitude Pulmonary Edema.
Navratilova, 54, was assisted down Africa's highest peak by porters and taken to a hospital in Nairobi where she'll spend the next 2-3 days recuperating from a build up of fluid around her lungs as a result of HAPE. She is expected to make a full recovery.
Prior to her climb she told a reporter:
"It's just a basic hike except you get to be pretty high and there's not much air up there, but it doesn't require much mountain climbing experience."
So what is High Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE)?
HAPE is a dangerous build-up of fluid in the lungs that prevents the air spaces from opening up and filling with fresh air with each breath. When this happens, the sufferer becomes progressively more short of oxygen, which in turn worsens the build-up of fluid in the lungs, and can be fatal within hours.
HAPE can occur in otherwise healthy mountaineers at altitudes typically above 2,500 meters (8,200 ft).
For those of you that aren't old school, Martina Navratilova was one of the greatest tennis players of all time, winning 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She reached the Wimbledon singles final 12 times, including 9 consecutive years from 1982 through 1990, and won the women's singles title at Wimbledon a record 9 times.