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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.

God speed and safety to you all from sunny California.

Handel Evans
Camirillo, CA
Response from David Carter:
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 and patience.

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. :-)

Guy T. Schafer
Dalton, NH
Response from Ed Viesturs:
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 challenging enough.

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.

Larry Buttrey
Long Beach, CA
Response from Ed Viesturs:
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
Scottsdale, Arizona.

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.

Mike Rindahl
Seattle, WA
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 luck!

Renny Sumprun
Austin, TX

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 ! ! !
Victor Winstead
York, PA
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.

Virginia Squier
Jackson, WY
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.

P.S. Hey, I've got a son now too—Johnathan Barrett. 7 months.

Take Care,

Jeff Witmer
Louisville, KY
Response from Dave Carter:
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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