Responses and Comments #5
May 5, 1997
Your discussion of the number of expeditions on the mountain is staggering. Is
it correct to assume that all will attempt the ascent to the summit? From your
description of the helicopter "tours" it would appear that there is a certain
amount of "unthinking activity." Would it be fair to assume this is also true
with regard to some of the other climbing teams? Do you have any idea what
percentage make it to the top.
Response from David Carter:
God speed and safety to you all from sunny California.
20% of the climbers attempting to climb Mt. Everest make it to the top. There
is attrition due to illness and lack of experience, basic lack of determination
Do you guys ever feel—I hate to say disappointed—but maybe surprised that
coming into the year 2000, the top of Everest is still such a daunting task for
humans to undertake? It seems to bode ill for mankind in space when there are
such inhospitable places that strain our maximum capabilities right here on the
home planet. Just thought you'd be in the mood for some philosophy. Good luck
up there. Don't let the moon hit you on the head. :-)
Response from Ed Viesturs:
Guy T. Schafer
I look at it as a challenge not as a daunting task. We don't have to climb
Everest. We choose to do it. I think we should be happy to have something
like Everest. There are people like us who want everest to get us away from
the normal, day to day life. Some of us need that as normal life isn't
It's been less than one year since circumstances took the lives of several of
your friends and fellow climbers. Do you sense a difference in attitudes among
the various expeditions compared to other years that you've been on Everest? I
would also suspect that there are more journalists and reporters at Base Camp
than in prior years. Do you have any thoughts about their presence? Thank you
and best wishes.
Response from Ed Viesturs:
Long Beach, CA
We definitely as guides are taking a very conservative approach as far as
letting clients go high on the mountain. They need to display strength,
endurance, and skills lower down on the mountain before we will allow them to
go higher. Just because they have paid us to come here does not guarantee they
get a chance at the summit. They need to first prove to us that they are
capable by displaying their climbing abilities. This has always been my
philosophy even before last year's tragedies.
I don't think that there are any more journalists here than last year but I do
think that the whole world is watching us. The presence of journalists really
does not affect me. I think that I would be guiding in the same way regardless
of their scrutiny.
Greetings from sunny Arizona! I would like to know from which spot on the
mountain that you are last able to report back to the outside world via e-mail
on the status of the crew, climb, conditions, etc. and approximately what date
that might be. Also, how do you physically get to the starting point, i.e., do
you hike in, bus in, helicopter, etc. and what destination is considered the
starting point?? Best of luck to you all!!
Mark, Debbi, Cody and Kaley
Response from Pete Athans:
Our starting point is Lukla (8000'), an airstrip and village. From Lukla it
takes us abut a week to walk up to Base Camp (17,6000). We can report from the
summit via radio (walkie-talkie) to Base Camp and our crew there sends our news
out via e-mail.
To the Team: I've summited Mt. Rainier a couple of times and know the air gets
thinner the higher you get above 12,000' My question is how much more of an
effort and how much more oxygen deprived do you get as you accent above Camp I.
Is food (fuel) carbo loading as important or more important as breathing
correctly? Thanks for your insights.
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
Although proper breathing can enhance air exchange, no one is able to maintain
voluntary changes in ventilation 24 hours a day. Different forms of
purse-lipped breathing to enhance expiratory positive airway pressure (EPAP)
have been tried. EPAP improves air exchange by holding open the alveoli at the
end of expiration increasing air exchange. Although probably effective these
modified breathing patterns are impossible to maintain, especially during
sleep—a very important time for acclimitization.
There have been numerous studies looking at carbohydrate intake at altitude.
There is some suggestion that eating foods with a lower respiratory quation (rq
- a ratio that looks at the amount of oxygen needed to metabolize food
substrate) may be beneficial, although studies have been equivocal.
I know that there is usually only a small window of opportunity in which the
summit of Everest can be reached. With so many climbers on the mountain how do
you decide which teams will be eligible to attempt a summit bid during the
"window"? There isn't a lot of time to spend waiting in line when you get
above 26,000 feet. Thanks for sharing your adventure with the world and good
It is up to the individual teams, based on their acclimitization schedules, to
decide when they feel ready to make a summit attempt.
My question is, what is the size and weight of the equipment that allows you to
receive & send E-mail messages and how far up the mountain do you plan to
take it? I'm amazed with the level of technology that allows us to do this.
Good Luck ! ! !
We transmit all of our e-mail from base camp (17,600') via an Apple Computer
laptop (5300cs or a 1400c) and a satellite telephone. All of the news from the
higher camps is transmitted to us via walkie talkie.
To David Breashears, We are all watching the ascent and thinking of you. Thank
you for helping us get Turning Point. Do you have any comments on what makes a
successful leader of an expedition? We are exploring concepts of leadership,
and wondered if you had input. Thank you. Take care.
Response from David Breashears:
An expedition leader is only as good as his team. The first priority is to
choose good people to surround yourself with—a good sirdar, a good sherpa
climbing staff, a good cook staff and of course strong and talented expedition
members. Other important attributes include communication, delegation and
trust in your team.
Dave! WOW! My Mom just gave me your e-mail + told me you were on the mountain.
I hope everything goes without a hitch and you get up + down safely. Then I
hope to see you on the Discovery Channel or TLC in a few months coming down in
one piece. Big Jane must be a nervous wreck! Stay safe and we'll say a prayer
for the safe return of you and your group.
Response from Dave Carter:
P.S. Hey, I've got a son now too—Johnathan Barrett. 7 months.
Great news and thanks for the support. If you want to follow our progress keep
logging onto this website. Look for the NOVA film next winter on PBS—that is
the only place to find it!
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