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Traffic Reports on Everest
April 16, 1997
By Liesl Clark

"I've never seen so many people backlogged, waiting for their turn on the ladder crossings in the Icefall," reports Pete Athans. For returning Everesters, traffic reports on the mountain seem to come in more frequently than weather updates. With an estimated 400 climbers making their way up the lower part of the mountain, the trail can be congested in places where only one climber can pass at a time. "About 5 days ago, I waited about an hour and a half at one of the ladders. It's amazing, you're on Mt. Everest and you have to wait in line," said Ed Viesturs who has made several carries up to Camp I and is now at Camp II at 21,300 feet.

Other NOVA team members Pete Athans, David Breashears, Jangbu Sherpa, and David Carter have also ascended the Icefall to Camp I and Camp II. All have been taking the psychometric tests designed to gauge one's cognitive impairment at altitude. "The tests have been going well for us and from the subjective observer's perspective it doesn't look like we're all that affected by the altitude yet. But we can't know if our laymen's observations are right—because we're the ones up there in the thin air." As the climbers have been gaining altitude, their pulse rates have been increasing in rapidity, especially with heavy work like digging out tent platforms at the two camps.

Today, a neighboring expedition on Everest ferried in five groups of trekkers via helicopter from Kathmandu. Because the visitors were not acclimatized, they had to breathe supplemental oxygen. They took pictures, and were then loaded back into the helicopter for the return flight to Kathmandu. If for any reason the visitors had been stranded here, the rapid ascent from 4,300 feet all the way up to Base Camp at 17,600 feet would have cause physiological complications for them.

Because the rest of us took more than a week to trek in from Kathmandu—allowing our bodies to acclimatize to the altitude—we can almost forget how thin the air is up here. But seeing people flown in and having to don oxygen tanks and masks was a stark reminder of how dependent we humans are on oxygen, and on our body's remarkable ability to adapt gradually to the low oxygen levels here at the foot of Mt. Everest.

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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