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NOVA Team Prepares for Summit Attempt
May 1, 1997
By Liesl Clark

The NOVA climbers—David Breashears, Jangbu Sherpa, Ed Viesturs, David Carter, and Pete Athans—are all at Base Camp today, resting before they make an attempt on the summit. Reports came in today that there will be high winds at the summit of Everest (29,028 feet) for the next 6 days. These 50-70 mph winds would make a summit attempt very difficult, which is why the climbers have a day to rest before leaving for their 5-6 day climb to the summit.

Ed Viesturs, who is guiding for a New Zealand Expedition, will be climbing with supplementary oxygen because he is a guide. One of his clients is Tashi Tenzing, Tenzing Norgay's grandson. Although Ed has summited Everest twice without oxygen and has proven to function well without bottled oxygen, he believes that it is important to climb with supplementary oxygen when guiding: "The theory is that when you're guiding with oxygen, you're more mentally alert, you're warmer. Typically, when you're guiding you're going quite slowly simply because the clients are going at a normal, average pace. To go at that speed, at that altitude you need to stay warmer so oxygen provides you with the warmth, it provides you with a little bit more mental acuity. It's a safety factor when you're guiding to be using oxygen."

Howard checking Retinal Hemoglobin Meanwhile, expedition Doctor Howard Donner arrived two days ago at Base Camp and has been conducting more neuro-behavioral tests on the climbers before they begin their final ascent. He has also listened to their lungs for any evidence of fluid, looked for signs of retinal hemmorhage, and collected ongoing vital signs (pulse, respiratory rates) and arterial oxygen saturation. "They all look like they're in great shape for the altitude," says Donner. "In fact, they all look a little fatter and happier than I expected them to be at this point. The ubiquitous Khumbu cough seems to be affecting all of them to some degree, but their arterial saturations and lung auscultation (breathing sounds) show their lungs to be in great shape."

Howard, who is from Telluride, Colorado, specializes in wilderness medicine and worked in 1995 at the Himalayan Rescue Association Clinic in Pheriche at 14,000 feet, two days walk downhill from Base Camp. "At the HRA clinic we always see frequent cases of mild to severe altitude illness," says Howard. "In 1995 I arrived following the biggest snow storm within anyone's memory and unfortunately porters were caught all over the upper Khumbu without adequate protective gear. The combination of high altitude and unexpected snow caused literally hundreds of cases of UV photokeratitis (snow blindness). We also saw some of the worst cold injury I had seen in the Himalayas related to trekking."

The NOVA film crew has been shooting with Howard at the Pheriche clinic and other locations while interviewing trekkers, who all seem to be reporting classic responses to altitude: headaches, nausea, vivid dreams, lassitude, and shortness of breath.

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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