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Responses and Comments #7
May 9, 1997



Question:
Reading your descriptions of what is involved in washing clothes, hair, etc., and the freezing results, I have probably a very simple, practical question. How does anything ever dry out?

Shirley Johnson
Topeka, Kansas
Response from Base Camp:
On a good day we will have enough sunshine to dry our clothes while they hang from makeshift laundry lines strung between tents. However, we frequently get snow showers in the afternoon and have to bring our wet clothes in for the night—sometimes it will take a few days until they are dry.


Question:
Hi everyone. I hope all is well on the roof of the world. I'm specifically interested in how you feel and what you do when you reach the summit, in detail! Do you just take in the view for a while and then head down? Do you go all quiet and spiritual? Or are you overcome with emotion? Do you laugh? Do you cry? Do you hold your arms in the air like an athlete who has just won a race? Do you scream at the top of your voice? Do you kiss the snow? Do you think of your loved ones? Do you perhaps feel more humble and insignificant than triumphant? Is it hard to leave after only half an hour? I'd appreciate any feedback you can give me on this. Good luck guys and thanks for this opportunity to interact.

Colin Sevitt
Sydney, Australi
Response from Base Camp:
Great questions—stayed tuned for our feature "Into the Death Zone" which will give an in-depth look at the summit day.


Question:
After the tragedy of last year's expeditions on the part of Rob Hall and Scott Fischer, do you plan to summit Everest in a different fashion than previous years? Will it just be a matter of keeping an eye on the weather? Also, David is there any plans in the future to summit Everest vis-a-vis the West Ridge Route such as the Hornbein Expedition did several years ago?

Jason Jordan
St. Louis, MI
Response:
Our climbers will be climbing the south col route which is the same one as Rob Hall and Scott Fischer climbed last year. At this time, David has no plans to attempt the West Ridge route.


Question:
Much of this climb is focusing on the affects on the mind and body at high altitude. How does your body feel when you return home (assuming "home" is somewhere around sea level) after a long period of time at very high altitude? Do you feel super human with all those extra red blood cells? Do you find that your resting heart rates are even lower than they were before you began your climb?

And emotionally, do you find that you suffer something akin to separation anxiety or post-partum depression?

Thank you and best wishes for a safe and successful expedition.

Larry Buttrey
Long Beach, CA
Response from David Carter:
When I return from an expedition, I have lost so much weight while living at high altitude that I sleep for a couple of weeks. I usually don't feel like doing any exercise for at least a month—much of that is due to mental exhaustion.


Question:
We are a 7th grade class from the Seattle area reading Ullman's "Banner in the Sky." We have been following your climb this year, and have read about the 1996 tragedy.

1. How does Everest compare to the Alps? Have any of you scaled the Matterhorn? How are they different?

2. Obviously, peak physical conditioning is required. What do you do during the off-season to prepare for the rigors of working out in such thin air?

3. What does yak tea taste like? Hummm hummm good, we bet!

Best of luck to you all- we look forward to seeing the IMAX film!

John Mejlaender
Carnation, WA
Response from Base Camp:
On average the Himalayan mountains are much taller than the Alps. Because of the high altitude in the Himalayan mountains the conditions can be extreme and more challenging for climbing. There are also huge areas that are uninhabitable because of the altitude.

Please look at former responses to how our climbers train for their climbing expeditions.

Some yak cheese can be very stinky while other types are mild and can be quite good.


Question:
David, Glad to hear you are back on the mountain.

Tomorrow night is the NY section of AAC film festival ... understand we have a "tease" of your IMAX that is going to be shown. Looking forward to it. Curious what the various expeditions are doing for weather forecasts this year? Good luck on the climb.

Sincerely,
Joe Witte
New York, New York
Response from Base Camp:
We do not know what the other expeditions are doing for their weather forecasts. We receive a daily forecast from a UK organization that specializes in upper air forecasts for the Himalayan region.


Comment:
Hi David,

This is so cool to be talking to you while you are climbing Mt. Everest. I am going to call your mom and dad tonight to tell them I e-mailed you . It looks like you are up to Camp III. I can't imagine going through the physical strain you all must be going through. Hang in there David and I hope you reach the summit soon. I know what a quest this has been for you and am very glad to see your dream about to come true. God speed to you and your companions!

Your Friend,
Jim Taylor
Indianapolis, IN
Response from David Carter
I appreciate your support and well wishes. I'm feeling strong and looking forward to heading up the mountain.


Question:
How much mixed climbing is involved climbing Everest? Does it depend on the route? Also, what is the temperature difference between Base Camp and the summit? Good luck to each of you and Godspeed.

James Wetzel
Response from Pete Athans:
The only mixed climbing of the South Col route is approximately 100 metres on the yellow band and 15 metres on the Hillary Step. Presently the temperature at base camp is approximately 40F. during the day and 20F. at night. On the summit the temperature is approximately an extreme of -40F, but more likely -10 F. to 0F. all depending on winds
.

Question:
Dave Carter:

Although the combination of deep snow and high winds temporarily prevented the Indonesians from making an attempt on the summit, does the aftermath of such a storm drastically raise the potential for an avalanche? and if so... how long does this period of additional risk last? What additional precautions can be taken to avoid catastrophe? Hope this topic isn't taboo!?!? Anyway, it's been great to follow your trek. Good Luck Dude!

Chris Striebeck
Indianapolis, IN
Response from David Carter:
As of now, there is no real avalanche danger, but in the icefall there is always the potential for a serac fall. Keep following me on the web and i'll buy you a beer when I get back to Indy.


Question:
I have been in contact with Dr. Peter Hackett who referred me to this page in regards to my senior project. I am studying the effects of altitude on myself and two partners during a three week climb of Denali's West Buttress. I will be monitoring for cognitive, sensory, and motor deficits.

During my extensive literature review finding specific examples of the types of tests administered by other investigators has been quite difficult. So far one of the most helpful resources has been this page and the tests posted on it and created by Gail Rosenbaum. I was hoping that one of the investigators might be able to offer assistance in finding more tests like the ones posted here. Specifically the Stroop test, Verbal Puzzles, and Remembering Sentences. My goal is to find enough of these tests to collect data twice daily on three people for three weeks. I am also interested in where I might find an oximeter to measure pulse rate and oxygen saturation, as well as how to measure lung size and capacity. Is lung capacity the same as forced vital capacity? And would a spirometer be the instrument to measure it? What is peak expiratory flow? Are you measuring finger-tapping speed? If so how? Is the Automated Performance Test System (APTS) being administered and do you know where the software can be found? How is HVR measured?

I appreciate any help you may be able to offer. Anything will surely be of help, especially considering I leave May 30th for the climb.

Thanks, and Climb On!!
Greg Barrett
Anchorage, Alaska
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
A good source for lightweight pulse oximeters is Chinook Medical Gear Inc. (970-328-2100) in Eagle, Colorado.

For the neurological tests the following papers will be of assistance:

"The Cost To The Central Nervous System Of Climbing To Extremely High Altitude," Tf. Hornbein,

"Do Climbs To Extreme Altitudes Persistent Memory Impairment After High Altitude Climbing," G. Cavaletti,

"Brain Damage After High-Altitude Climbs Without Oxygen," G. Cavaletti,

"Long-Lasting Neuropsychological Changes After A Single High Altitude Climb," G. Cavaletti,

"Neuropsychological Functioning After Prolonged High Altitude Exposure In Mountaineering," Cf. Clark.



Question:
I have been interested in the subject of Acute High Altitude Sickness since my brother, Edward (also a former Cheley Camper as is Dr. Tom Hornbein), died of it during a 1976 ascent of Mt. McKinley. The weather was bad and the party could not get him to a lower elevation. The malady seems to strike without a great deal of predictability. The climber can have previously gone to an elevation several times before without incidence, and then for some reason on a subsequent ascent to that elevation be stricken. Have you been able to identify any precursors that might signal its onset or any predisposing factors? Is there a threshold elevation where it presents itself and an elevation above which it seems to be of little problem? What precautions have the team taken to avoid it and why was it believed that this course of action would prevent the onset? If that has not been totally successful in avoiding High Altitude Sickness, what would you have done differently? Who has had it, at what elevations?

Jim Guleke
Austin, TX
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
Interestingly there have been numerous recent observations that climbers with preexisting upper respiratory infections (often viral) are predisposed to HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema). This may explain some cases of seemingly random HAPE in individuals whose prior climbing history suggested no predisposition.

Climbers often report the unexpected onset of HAPE. With closer scrutiny of the ascent profile there are often subtle changes from one climb to the next. An extra staging or rest day at the same altitude can influence the potential for development of HAPE. Some have conjectured that other variables including diet (ie, salt intake) may cause changes in susceptibility but this has been poorly studied. Additionally, the use of pharmaceutical agents, such as nifedipine, may be used to prevent HAPE in known susceptibles.

There is no elevation above which HAPE is no longer a potential danger.

The best indication that our team can avoid complications with HAPE is a clear history of no prior problems. With the human body, there are never guarantees but a pristine prior history is extremely reassuring.


Question:
Greetings from Washington- the monsoon has decided to visit us before it goes on to Asia- lots and lots of rain. I hope your weather conditions are better. My question is how does the altitude affect your senses like smell, taste, hearing and seeing? Are they dulled or enhanced the higher you go? How about your sense of balance- do you experience vertigo? Thank you and best of luck for a safe summit day.

Colleen Merrill
Langley, WA
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
Smell and taste are definitely diminished at base camp (17,600') and at the higher camps. The return of these senses is best appreciated upon descent to lower elevations.

With symptoms of AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) balance can be affected, however, in a well acclimatized climber balance should be normal. At extreme altitudes, climbers suffering from chronic hypoxemia (low blood oxygen) have described difficulty with balance. Other factors that affect climbers' balance include dehydration, hypoglycemia and exhaustion.


Question:
A word of encouragement from Indianapolis! I don't know if you will get this message before you attempt the summit , but I hope like hell that you make it. There are a lot of North Central and I.U. people here cheering you on. It has been very interesting being able to follow your team on the internet. The last news we have is you are at base camp III, and preparing to move on. Go for it Dave.

Paul Schuler
Indianapolis, IN
Response from David Carter:
Thanks for your support, everything is going great. We're hoping to leave for the summit in the next few days.


Question:
I was wondering if it is very noisy all the time on Everest because of the wind. I think this would be a disturbing factor when you have to be there for months. So, how is the wind on Everest?

Noah Hedges
Arlington, TX
Response from Pete Athans:
In past years the wind has been very loud from Base Camp and above. This year, we have been very fortunate to have relative few high wind days. The other loud noises that we hear are avalanches and glacier movement.


Question:
To Edgar: You'll have to write back soon to let everyone know at Film/Video how you and your crew are doing. I have been waiting to hear from you. But perhaps you didn't receive my last e-mail. Jay, Darryl, Roy, Pizio, and myself wish you the best of luck as you guys take on the elements. I will pass on any info you send, so don't hesitate to write when you find the time. Talk to you soon.

Shayne Sivley
Denver, CO
Response from Edgar Boyles:
Greetings from both Pete Athans and myself here at "Hypoxia Beach" at 17,600". Things are going well and the gear is holding up even though we are in a pretty extreme and harsh environment. Everybody is ready for the summit, so stayed tuned to the web site as it's just about showtime! All the best to the crew there, look forward to seeing you on my return.

Best regards, Edgar.


Question:
Dear Climbers,

Hi! I am Staci, I am 12, almost 13! The school I go to is following you, we hooked up the T.V. to the computer and are writing questions! Well here's my question: What do you people do on your spare time?

Staci Flajole
Carnation, WA
Response from Base Camp:
During our spare time at Base Camp we rest, read, hang out with our friends and recuperate our energy for our climb.


Question:
I was wondering if you had any difficulties with route-finding in the Khumbu Icefall. Is the water safe to drink out of the streams or do you treat it? Is Lhotse within reach from Base Camp to climb (within a day or two of trekking). A question for Ed Viesturs: Has he made any outstanding times between camps like he did with Scott Fischer on K2 in 1992? (7500 feet in one day). Have stable weather!

Taylor Woodward
Richaland, WA
Response from Base Camp:
The Icefall is considered by some the most dangerous part of the route due to falling ice. Throughout a given season the route may be reset in certain sections because of the movement in the glacier.

Our main source for water at Base Camp is a frozen pond at the base of the Lho La (which is a huge glacial pass to Tibet). For our expedition alone, our kitchen staff carries 30-35 liter-loads of water each day. This water is boiled for purification.


Question:
Hi from the fifth grade! It is exciting to hear from people on Mount Everest. We want to ask if the flag from Hillary and Tenzing is still at the summit? and when you climb do you ever find the bodies of other climbers? That would be very hard.

Good luck,
Eric Z., Christina C., Deedee C., Shea S.
from Cleveland Urban Community School
Cleveland, Ohio
Response from Base Camp:
The flag from Hillary and Tenzing's summit is no longer there. Sadly, there are bodies along the route.


Question:
Dear Climbers,

Have any of your team members gotten hurt yet? Do you think any of you will get hurt? How would you take care of the injured people?

Sincerely,
The 7th grade
Garden Valley, Idaho
Response from Base Camp:
All of climbers are feeling strong and are in good health. In the event of any injuries we have a doctor, Howard Donner, at base camp. When the climbers are on the mountain they always have a medical kit with them.


Question:
Hello! I'm not a climber myself but I've been reading a lot of books and checking the web site and have become intensely interested in your Everest expedition. My question is pretty simple. How do you know the way? I realize that you keep going up but I imagine that the landscape must change with the ice and wind and snow. Is this true? What sort of navigational tools do you have? Good luck, my thoughts are with you! I really admire your courage and determination.

Mellisa Rinehart
Akron, OH
Response from Base Camp:
The traditional Southeast route on Everest is well-travelled and easy to find: through the Icefall ropes and ladders and the well-trodden route will show you the way; the same would go for the Western Cwm. Its well-trodden route is hard to avoid as the Lhotse Face is mostly fixed with ropes. Climbers work their way up without having to use compasses. Beyond Camp IV we believe it is best for climbers to always have a compass with them in case they get caught in white-out conditions or the dark.

As Mal Duff's expedition Sherpas have for the past few years set the route through the Icefall, there has been little chance for first-timers to get lost in the labyrinth. The first climbers to go through the Western Cwm in a given season have to set the ladders across the many crevasses that traverse the high mountain valley.


Question:
I see by today's Newsflash that there will be strong winds at the summit and that this will make the trek even more difficult. I moved from Phoenix, AZ to Iowa City to attend graduate school and found the Iowa winter to be a terrible shock. The winds were strong and the temperature (incl. windchill) that first winter hung around minus 80 for a long time. Last winter we had a week where temperatures, with no winds were at about -20 during the day. My question is this: Will the winds at the summit be strong enough to actually "move" or "push" your bodies, and what impact will the winds have on temperature?

Best wishes-

Michelle Rhoades
Dept. of History, University of Iowa
Response from Base Camp:
Our most recent five-day forecast show the winds ranging from 5-55 kph, the corresponding temperatures range from -19 f. To -38 f. Climbers generally choose not to climb in winds that will buffet their bodies. If they are caught up high in strong winds, they will usually turn around for safety reasons.


Question:
Hello from the Pacific Northwest! My 7th grade class is following your progress with great interest. They are curious how many e-mails you are receiving? Nationally? Internationally? This has been so exciting for them- they are going home and doing all kinds of research. Also- what does yak tea taste like? hang in there! Russell Coney says hello to Todd Burleson!

Carnation, WA
Response from Dr. Donner:
We are overwhelmed with e-mails and try our best to answer them on a daily basis. Most of our mail comes from the United States, but we do receive mail from all over the world; for example, today we received mail from Italy.

Yak tea is not a favorite of ours here at base camp, we prefer hot lemon or milk tea.
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