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Deadly Ascent homepage

Set #4: June 12, 2000

Comment:

Thank you for a well organized, easy to navigate site. It is interesting to watch the daily progress of the team. I will be back often to check on the progress.

Sandy Newsome
Cody, WY

Question:

Why do ordinary people care what research comes from this study, how will this improve mankind? What is all this talk about space, only rich people are going to be able to afford a trip to space anyway? Finally, was this funded by my tax dollars?

Response from John Grunsfeld:

The most important part about doing basic research of the type we're doing on the mountain here and that we do in space are the surprises that lead to new knowledge of how the human body works. Frequently, this new understanding leads to better treatment for disease and the human condition. An example from space is the loss of bone density while in Earth orbit which when we can find out the mechanism may lead to a cure for osteoporosis. Here on the mountain, altitude studies have helped us gain a greater understanding of lung disease, certain types of blood disorders, and disorders in the brain.

Response from NOVA:

NOVA is funded in part by PBS and CPB (the Corporation for Public Broadcasting).

Question:

Many of the recent accounts of extreme high altitude climbing, such as on Everest, comment about the poor design of available oxygen equipment. Climbers experience fogging or icing of masks or goggles, and may have to remove them when traversing technically difficult terrain, risking hypoxia or snow blindness. Do Drs. Hackett or Donner have any comments why presently available medical oxygen equipment, such as nasal cannula, is not suitable? Also, would John Grunsfeld know if equipment developed for NASA has any application for high altitude climbing

John Ryan
Lake Mary, FL

Response from John Grunsfeld:

The reason that cannula is not optimal is that it wastes a lot of oxygen. In aviation and space environments we usually don't encounter the extreme conditions that are seen in the mountains. Still, as you reference there is much room for improvement in current oxygen systems and explorers in the mountains will continue to try new technology from any sources.

Response from Howard Donner:

Current generation nasal cannulas with demand regulators are capable of entraining air when exposed to the negative pressure of inspiration. Surprisingly, even when mouth breathing, there is usually enough negative pressure at the nostrils to trigger the demand valve. Systems such as this are still susceptible to freezing and climbers prefer to use the "kiss principle" but systems such as this might be more common in the future.

Question:

This message is directed to John Grunsfeld. I would like to know more about some of the clothing you guys will be wearing in such extreme temperatures. Will you be testing any new "space-age" technology on this climb? How did you find out about the climb? I know you can do it. Good Luck Man!!!!!!!!

Scott
Shreveport, LA

Response from John Grunsfeld:

We wear a combination of high-technology fibers to both keep warm but also to stay cool when it's hot during the day. These include treated polyester fibers, polypropylene, and breathable water-proof fabrics such as Gore-Tex. Many of these similar fibers are used in the construction of the space suits we wear to do space walks from the space shuttle. For summit day, I will be wearing custom made toe caps made from aluminized mylar that is used on the Hubble Space Telescope. My hope is that these insulators will keep my toes warm in the same way that it keeps the telescope warm.

Question:

Gentlemen,
What you are doing inspires all of us, being a outdoorsman myself, I have been exposed to some adverse conditions. I know your gear is important, each piece working with other select pieces to maintain a system that ultimately equals survival, with that said, what are your favorite pieces of gear?

Many Thanks,

Mike O'Leary
Rochester, NY

Response from Liesl Clark:

The women on the expedition say that anything down is their favorite gear, but fleece hats and booties always come in close second for keeping us warm. Some of the guys find their altimeter watches, glacier goggles, and down mittens to be their favorite pieces. Thanks for checking in with us and we do agree that gear is everything up here.

Question:

Web site is AWESOME!

Question: Psychologically, does being on the mountain for an extended time cause you to feel isolated

Wanda Jones
Fayetteville, NC

Response from Liesl Clark:

Even though we're up here on the glaciated flanks of Denali at 14,200 feet, there's a clear sense of community up here. At this camp, there must be over 200 climbers spread out across the basin. Unlike most mountains, Denali provides a coming-together for a lot of professional climbers and guides. We also have several cell phones up here and a satellite phone with email contact. Oddly enough, we often feel more connected with the world when we're up here than we are at home! This doesn't mean we don't miss the comforts of home and the company of our family and friends.

Comment:

Hi...From my little log cabin north of Fairbanks, I could see Denali in all its splendor yesterday morning. The mountain was bathed in pink. I can imagine you there. Stay safe and have a wonderful climb. There is much to learn on a mountain top. Good Luck.

Judy Carpenter
Fairbanks, AK

Question:

I understand you will be reporting on the progress of John Helenick, Sr. who is attempting to be the oldest person ever to climb Denali. When can I expect to see postings as to his progress? Please advice, thank you.

Chris Croft
New York, NY

Response from Liesl Clark:

John Helenick is on another climb. We understand he is a couple of weeks behind us.

Comment:

May God almighty who created the mountain you are climbing go with you and your team Caitlin. You folks are pushing the odds. Awesome!

Stephen A. Sierra
New Mexico

Question:

I'm eight (almost nine), I've climbed in Idaho, California, Nevada, Washington, Colorado and Canada. My dad is a professional rock climber, but he's also a minister. I want to be a climber, archaeologist or an astronomer, maybe a fighter pilot (my dad was on a aircraft carrier). I wish you luck on Denali. Please write me back and tell me what the best part of the route was.

Sincerely,

Michael
Kansas

Response from Caitlin Palmer:

So far, the best part of the route is from Windy Corner at 13,200 feet to 14,200 feet. Here, we can see the upper parts of the mountain and beautiful vistas along the way. Crevasses at Windy Corner are spectacular because the glacier drops 4,000 feet creating such a steep drop with many large cracks.

Question:

I am looking at the mountain climbers with interest. I used to live by the mountains, and my dad taught people how to climb. As far as I know I still hold the record as the youngest person to climb the longest rock climb in Idaho. We've climbed in Yosemite, California and in Canada, also in Washington and Colorado. I'm looking forward to moving back to the mountains soon. I wish success to the climbers on Denali; I've never been to Alaska but my dad has climbed there. If you have any advice for me, I want to be a climber like my dad, but I also want to be a paleoarchaeologist or an astronomer. My dad is going to be a doctor, but the kind of doctor that ministers become—lots of reading and writing, not a physician. I'm 9 years old now and will be a scientist kind of doctor.

Michael
Kansas

Response from John Grunsfeld:

Be sure to study lots of math and science and spend time exploring both in school and in the outdoors.

Comment:

Hey you are doing a great job, keep it up, don't lose hope no matter how bleak the chances of succeeding are. No matter how many people die, keep going. good luck.

Have a grand day,

Jacob
Oregon

Comment:

Hello. Hope you guys are staying safe. Good luck on your climb. We wish that we could experience seeing the sights that you will see first hand. Your Website is really cool and informative. Your web site is really inspiring. Again, good luck.

Sandy and Jolie
Oregon

Comment:

Good luck on your climb. We hope that everyone has tons of fun and stays safe. hope to hear from you all soon and again good luck.

Matt and Griffin
Oregon

Comment:

Keep it up, y'all. Take care up there, and have a great time. Am anxious to hear about it in future updates to the site.

Good luck!

Sarah
Oregon

Comment:

Keep up the good work. This web site is amazing!! We are so impressed. Our prayers are with you!

Suzie and Melissa
Oregon

Question:

We are a group of summer school students in school for the month of June. There are eight of us plus one teacher. We are going to be following you on your journey.

We have flown the route up the mountain, and we are interested to find out how hot John is. We also look forward to your daily dispatches to find out how your team is doing. We hope you have a successful expedition.

Happy hiking,

Response from Liesl Clark:

Thanks for following us. As we type this John's core body temperature is 99.5°F.

Back to top

Dispatches

On the Way (06.01.2000)
One Shot Pass (06.02.2000)
Midnight Rescue (06.04.2000)
Across a Glacier (06.05.2000)
Cold Toes (06.07.2000)
Cloud Walkers (06.09.2000)
Fourteen Medical (06.11.2000)
A Climber Saved (06.13.2000)
Lull Before a Storm (06.15.2000)
Frostbite (06.17.2000)
An Unforgiving Mountain (06.19.2000)
Stopped Short (06.20.2000)
A Great Loss (06.20.2000)
Bid for the Summit (06.23.2000)
Summit Reached (06.24.2000)


E-Mail

Set #1 (06.07.2000)
Set #2 (06.08.2000)
Set #3 (06.11.2000)
Set #4 (06.12.2000)
Set #5 (06.21.2000)


Meet the Team

Pete Athans
Colby Coombs
Dr. Howard Donner
John Grunsfeld
Dr. Peter Hackett
Caitlin Palmer





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