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APEX 6 is now complete. Whilst APEX 7 is being planned and the APEX 6 team work on reviewing our data and presenting results, we are delighted to be able to attach our expedition report:

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APEX was founded by medical students at the University of Edinburgh in 2001. Since then, hundreds of students have taken part in expeditions investigating the effect of altitude and hypoxia on the human body. The latest expedition took place from the  25th June - 8th July 2022. You can access the Expedition Report here.

Get Involved


The APEX 6 expedition began in La Paz (3700m) for an initial acclimatisation period of 5 days, before we ascended to our base on Huyana Potosi (4700m). We stayed on Huyana Potosi for 8 days. 

Data and sample collection was carried out during the acclimatisation phase in La Paz and throughout our time at Huyana Potosi.

The expedition concluded on our return to La Paz. 



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We conducted a pioneering project examining the impact of individuals’ body clocks (also known as chronotype) on physiological and clinical outcomes. This addresses a key knowledge gap in wilderness medicine that affects the interpretation of previous high-altitude studies and has potentially contributed to conflicting data on interventions for preventing/treating acute mountain sickness. As well as the relevance of this research to human health in the context of jetlag and hypoxia, this will also set a new standard for chronotype-control in studies carried out in other wilderness environments.

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Sight is critical for orientation, movement, and balance and so visual function is clearly essential for the safety and performance of pilots, mountaineers, and athletes training at altitude. Furthermore, as the only visible part of the brain, studying retinal function at altitude provides a unique opportunity to objectively assess the effects of hypoxia on the brain. In future, changes in retinal function may be used as a new variable in field research on altitude sickness, which was not available previously owing to the impractical nature of traditional methods of measuring dark adaptation. This is an exciting field of research, with the potential to benefit those exposed to hypoxia due to both environment and illness.

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This project aims to investigate the link between hypoxia inducible factor (hif) 1 alpha and menstrual blood loss, following on from the work of Edinburgh researcher Dr Jackie Maybin. This involved female participants self-analysing blood volumes using pictograms and analysis via questionnaires collected over the course of this research project. This work is especially relevant to women experiencing the very common condition of heavy menstrual bleeding.


This project aims to investigate a new approach of calculating lung oxygenation. This is very important for classing disease severity and is also an important measurement used in clinical trials. Currently non-invasive techniques used in medicine to calculate long oxygenation are less accurate than this new proposed technique. When at altitude this involved taking arterial blood from volunteers and calculating their lung oxygenation using current techniques and our new technique. This will allow us to compare our findings and confirm efficacy. This work is relevant for critically ill patients to class their disease severity.



Apex 6 was be lead by four Medical Students from the University of Edinburgh. 

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Expedition Leader

Oliver was a final year medical student and Expedition Leader for APEX 6. Besides making sure everything came together on time, he also be oversaw the logistics of the expedition - making sure everything was ready for us flying out, and that the expedition ran safely and smoothly. A keen traveller, Oliver has been to nearly 70 countries, having caught the travel bug as a volunteer on APEX 5. Through travelling, as well as other areas, he has gained extensive experience in getting people and equipment from A to B and leading diverse groups of people. Aside from travelling, Oliver has an active interest in health policy, healthcare management, events management and politics. Oliver is co-leading the arterial blood gas research, but spends most of his time on organisational aspects. 

Head of Research and Funding

Alastair was a final year medical student at the University of Edinburgh, who developed a keen interest in expedition medicine as a volunteer on the APEX 5 expedition. For APEX6 Alastair was responsible for coordinating  the various research projects and ensuring sufficient funding was in place for the expedition to take place. He also be undertook his own research project investigating body clocks in Bolivia. Outside of medicine, Alastair's interests lie in sport and spending time away from his beloved bikes will certainly be his biggest challenge! Don't be surprised to see him hiking up Huayna Potosi in search of signal to check on the latest sporting news! 

Head of Volunteering and Communications

Suzanne was a 4th year medical student at the University of Edinburgh and was head of volunteers and communications. This means she was is charge of managing our website and social media accounts as well as ensuring the welfare of our 34 volunteers on the expedition. Furthermore, she co-lead the Lung Function project alongside Oliver. Outside of medicine, Suzanne loves cooking and staying active through running and playing hockey.  She has only travelled to South America once before APEX and loved going back to explore more of the continent!

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Head of Events and Sponsorship

Isla was a 4th year medical student at the university of Edinburgh. She was head of fundraising and events for APEX6 and the dark adaptation at altitude project which Sarah and Denisa bravely entrusted her with. She joined the committee in 2021 and really enjoyed it and could not wait to visit South America for the first time. Outside of studying, Isla loves the outdoors, walking, running and skiing.

Volunteer life


APEX6 has recruited a fantastic group of volunteers. Meet the rest of the team!

Expedition Doctors

Expedition Doctors

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Ben currently works as a consultant anaesthetist in the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Previously, he has worked with the air ambulance service and worked as a consultant in critical care. In his spare time, Ben enjoys outdoor activities in particular kayaking and mountain biking.

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Katie currently works as a anaesthetist registrar at the Royal Cornwall Hospital. Katie previously volunteered with AMREF flying doctors which is a charity-based service providing aeromedical evacuation across east Africa. In her spare time, Katie enjoys sailing and has previously circumnavigated the UK on a 29 ft yacht. 



Tom Avery
One of the UK's foremost explorers

"I am proud to support APEX 6. The Bolivian mountains are amongst the more beautiful in the world, but they are also a real test of human endurance. The work of the APEX6 team will be invaluable in gaining better understanding of the effects of altitude on the human body.  I wish them a safe and successful expedition."

Sir Chris Bonington
British Mountaineer

“I am delighted to endorse APEX 6. APEX has been hugely successful over the past years, with much exciting research being done into the intricate effects of altitude and hypoxia on the human body. This year, students will take on this challenge once again, with a further aim of collaborating with local Bolivian researchers. The group have my full support, and I wish them all the best on this journey.”

University of Edinburgh Expedition Status
Approved by the University Expeditions Committee

APEX 6 is proud to be endorsed by the University Expeditions Committee. This endorsement follows a thorough review of the organisation of the expedition, safety measures put in place as well as the ascent profile. APEX 6 is officially recognised and approved by the University.



APEX 6 has been fortunate to be supported by the following organisations. We thank all of our supporters for their support for our expedition.

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Expedition Blog

Pre- Expedition

Just before the expedition started Oliver and myself (Suzie) flew out to La Paz to set-up and receive equipment prior to volunteers arrival. This was an excited yet stressful time for us which consisted and mostly cleaning out shops of their supplies of hand soap and sanitiser! After a couple of hiccups regarding oxygen supplies and finding the right size of saline, we got into a groove. Now we are just waiting in excitement for our lovely volunteers and committee to join us!

- Suzie Green, Head of Publicity and Volunteers


Day 1

Today was most volunteers' first full day in La Paz, so after settling into our hostel, we went exploring. After a lunch on a roof top terrace overlooking the Basilica de San Francisco, we headed back to the hostel where people got to planning further trips and read in the sun. For dinner we headed out to Sagarnaga and the fell to sleep!

- Madryn Riewer, APEX6 volunteer


Day 2

Exploring La Paz Sunday 26th June It was a slow start to the day completing our daily reaction tests and sats, for the research components of the trip, and enjoying some scrambled eggs for breakfast. Afterwards we collected some bolivianos from a local ATM machine and visited the Bolivian markets, where we purchased some Bolivian SIM cards. Cholita wrestling was the highlight of the day, the athleticism of the cholitas was impressive and the crowd interaction entertaining.

- Harry Henriksen, APEX6 volunteer


Day 3

Today most of the group joined the walking tour around La Paz in the morning and visited the cornerstones of the city as well as learnt about the different indigenous rituals and some Bolivian history! After a well deserved lunch break and some shopping at the Witches Market and Calle Sagarnaga, some of us took the cable cars up to El Alto to enjoy the sunset and the views!

- Jaime Garcia Fernandez, APEX6 volunteer


Day 4

Pachamama's influence was strong today, demanding a phone as sacrifice during our trip to the valley of the moon/spirits. One successful retrieval later, we found ourselves in possibly the nicest restaurant we've ever been to, which is now expecting an influx of apex volunteers. We put our lungs to the test with the cable cars and a rickety light house, and were rewarded with a lovely sunset and a slightly terrifying view of Huayna Potosi.

- Anna Prvulovich, APEX6 volunteer


Day 5

News that multiple volunteers (and some committee members) had fallen ill during the night meant that it was a shaky start to the day...

However, the remaining volunteers set out to make the most of their last full day in La Paz. We had lunch on a roof terrace overlooking the Basilica of St Francis, before heading to the coca leaf museum and discovering the fascinating history behind the use of coca leaf in indigenous cultures and modern-day cocaine use. We then headed to Mirador Killi Killi viewpoint- after a significant struggle up a very steep hill (we are blaming the altitude not our lack of fitness) we made it to the top and finished the day overlooking La Paz

- Anya Tan, APEX6 volunteer


Day 6

After a morning of rushed packing and final contacts with the outside world for the coming week, the 30 odd of us ascending Huayna Potosi got on the bus ready to embark on the next stage of the expedition. The 1200m ascent took us around 2 hours, with a short break halfway through which saw some of us already feeling the higher altitude. We arrived at Refugio Case Blanca, situated at 4,800m, at around 2 pm. After getting settled in we were a delicious (and much needed) lunch, after which some of us took a walk to a nearby lake and admired the beautiful mountain vista. After sunset, we wandered out again for a bit of stargazing and we're not disappointed by an absolutely spectacular view of the Milky Way.

- Karolina Futera, APEX6 volunteer


Day 7

The first full day at base camp began with ERG testing and blood sampling. Everyone filled the rest of their day with a range of activities from lake swimming to card playing. The day finished with a pub quiz in the loft, victory secured by the team 'care of the elderly'!

- Cami Maezelle, APEX6 volunteer


Day 8

Many of us were feeling the effects of altitude today. Therefore, we had a quiet morning in the Refugio reading, playing games and eating lots of snacks! In the afternoon, Chloe led a yoga session outside and we went for a walk above the Refugio.

- Hannah Appleton, APEX6 volunteer


Day 9

One of the other studies this week is an eye study that is looking at the effects of hypoxia on retinal function. We are each doing two different tests at two time points up the mountain which will be compared to our results from baseline (Edinburgh). The tests involves initial data collection then either 10-20 mins of dark adaption before a further test set of data is collected.

- Becky Lillicrap, APEX6 volunteer


Day 10

A relaxed day helping to set up the neutrophil study. The group decided to head out on a long hike to a reservoir high above the valley, providing excellent views and a very chilly swim! We returned via the aqueduct hugging the cliffs close to Zongo dam as the sun set behind the mountain. A riveting day!

- Johnny Lang, APEX6 volunteer


Day 11

After 6 days up the mountain the altitude and lack of food (according to Calum) are taking their toll. However, the show must go on- today it is Alex's project, the neutrophil study. I can't say I understand it but there are lots of people helping so it must be complicated.

The arterial blood research took place on Sunday and was a major operation. The morning was a struggle as cold temperatures and ill-advised swim led to some less than ideal arterial conditions. However, the afternoon went more smoothly and good data was collected thanks to the work of our expedition doctors, Ben and Katy along with Oliver and Suzie.

Other than that it has been Isla's eye studies and Alastair's reaction tests which have been the focus of our days, with Alastair imposing a strict no fresh air before completing his research each morning- you really hate it see it.

- Calum Weir, APEX6 volunteer

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Day 12

The last supper. Today is descent day and for some (myself included) it couldn't come sooner. Bouts of D&V spread around camp quickly the past couple of days making life up the mountain grim for all (please come on APEX7). Although not all was bad. Alex's neutrophil project was a resounding success (he still won't tell me whether my high score is bad or good) and I've never seen Isla so happy after completing her final ERG of the expedition. 

Decent went shockingly smoothly with zero spew on the bus, though things got very emotional when our leader Oliver gave a heart warming thank you speech to Nelly. Tears. We arrived back at Hostel Republica and the showers were immediately put to good use (the bus could probably do with a good bleaching now). After everyone scrapped themselves clean we headed to the team meal booked by head of keeping us sane: Suzie. The food was great!

I'd like to thank the amazing committee: Oliver, Alastair, Suzie and Isla for all the hard work they put in keeping us alive (and mostly happy) on behalf of all of us volunteers. A shout out to our hilarious expedition doctors Ben (head of socks and sandals) and Katy (head of bruising Chloe's arm) for dealing with our D&V is also in order. The expedition as a whole was incredible and I couldn't recommend it more. It's a truly once in a lifetime experience to meet new people, eat strange food (chip soup was a low point) and of course help take part in exciting medical research.

- Cameron Norton, APEX6 volunteer

Expedition Blog

Expedition and Travel Vlog

Expedition and Travel Vlog
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