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June 10, 1997
by Liesl Clark

It's been two and a half months since the day we all left our homes for Kathmandu in what would be an unforgettable adventure to the top of the world. Now we're back in Seattle where our adventure first began, administering the final round of physical and psychological tests on the climbers.

The noise of the MRI scans can be deafening, like the sound of a jackhammer drilling deep into your brain. "It's like having a garbage can on your head while someone pounds on it," said Dr. Steve Dager, a professor of psychiatry and bioengineering at the University of Washington who is administering the final round of MRI scans for our research on hypoxia. As I sit three inches from the mouth of the MRI scanner, also known as "the magnet," I hold David's hand while he lies inside the plastic tunnel trying to overcome his fear of claustrophobia. I wonder what thoughts must be going through his head. Is there a sense of relief that this film and the battery of testing from sea level to the summit of Everest is almost over?

David Carter joined David Breashears and Ed Viesturs in Seattle for the final neuro-behavioral testing and MRI scans. "I'm still not home yet, and my family is itching to see me." said Carter. He has one more leg of the journey to go before setting foot back on Indiana soil. "Get me to those cornfields and flat land," Carter joked at a barbecue held at Tom Hornbein's house, where we were all together for the last time before returning to our homes. Joining the festivities was Jon Krakauer, the author of Into Thin Air, as well as some of the experts who helped design the tests—Peter Hackett, Brownie Schoene, and Gail Rosenbaum.

The media interest in the highest place on Earth has us all reeling. But what strikes us the most is the general confusion and misunderstanding about how people function in an oxygen-deprived environment. Now, more than ever, we feel we have an important story to tell. Will our scientists discover clues from the data we've gathered that will tell us more about how and why humans become impaired at altitude? Do extreme altitudes cause chemical or structural changes in the brain? In the months to come, our scientists will be analyzing the data obtained at sea level and on the mountain.

On February 24th, 1998, join us on air as NOVA broadcasts the findings and the astonishing story of these climbers' journey into thin air.

June 10, 1997: Back Home (27)
May 25, 1997: Climbers Return to Base Camp (26)
May 24, 1997: Descending Toward Base Camp (25)
May 23 PM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Safely Off the Summit (24)
May 23 AM, 1997: NOVA Climbers Reach the Summit! (23)
    Hear the archived live audio broadcast from the summit
    Read the transcript of the broadcast from the summit
May 22, 1997: Bid for the Summit (22)
May 21, 1997: Helicopter Crashes at Everest Base Camp (21)
May 20, 1997: Moving On Up (20)
May 19, 1997: Poised at Camp II (19)
May 18, 1997: Departing for Camp II (18)
May 17, 1997: Dead Sherpa Found on Khumbu Glacier (17)
May 16, 1997: Jet Stream Winds Blast Camp II (16)
May 13, 1997: Receiving News from the North Side (15)
    May 13, 1997: RealAudio Interview with David Breashears
May 11, 1997: Five Climbers Presumed Dead on the North Side (14)
May 10, 1997: The Waiting Game (13)
May 9, 1997: Pulmonary Edema Evacuation from Base Camp (12)
May 8, 1997: A Hasty Retreat to Base Camp (11)
May 7, 1997: Sherpa Falls To His Death On The Lhotse Face (10)
May 6, 1997: Spin: A Passenger to the Summit (9)
May 5, 1997: Delayed at Advance Base Camp (8)
May 4, 1997: NOVA Climbers Leave Base Camp for Their Summit Attempt (7)
May 1, 1997: NOVA Team Prepares for Summit Attempt (6)
April 26, 1997: Indonesian Expedition First to Summit in 1997 (5)
April 23, 1997: Expedition Leader Dies at Everest Base Camp (4)
April 22, 1997: Japanese Expedition Pulls Out (3)
April 16, 1997: Traffic Reports on Everest (2)
April 14, 1997: Rescue Season Begins (1)

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