Intended for healthcare professionals


Emmanuel Cauchy: mountain rescue doctor and pioneer in altitude medicine

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 04 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2003
  1. Penny Warren
  1. London, UK
  1. penny.warren{at}

The eminent French mountain rescue doctor, Emmanuel (“Manu”) Cauchy, nicknamed “Docteur Vertical,” was passionate about climbing and mountain medicine: “I am drawn by a spirit of adventure and discovery in the savage arena of the mountains.”

In 1991 Cauchy, a fully qualified mountain guide, climbed Everest without oxygen as part of his study of altitude sickness. He was involved in many rescue expeditions in the Mont Blanc massif and became close friends with some of his mountaineering patients. In 2001, for example, he climbed the Aiguille du Midi in the Mont Blanc massif with a former patient, the Scottish mountaineer and quadruple amputee Jamie Andrew. The feat was televised as Le Défi du Jamie (Jamie’s challenge).

A career in mountain medicine

Cauchy was born on 21 February 1960 in Petit-Quevilly in Normandy, an area of France that’s barely above sea level. Initially, his favourite sport was sailing, but when his parents took the family skiing in the Alps, his lifelong fascination with mountains began.

Cauchy had wanted to be a vet, but he …

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