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Responses and Comments #9
May 14, 1997

I have several questions regarding the Sherpas. Have they been trained for mountain climbing? Do they need supplemental oxygen or are they more acclimated to the altitude? Do they make their yearly wages in the month or so ("window") that Everest can be climbed?

Good luck and have a safe journey.
Patty Patton
Columbus, Ohio

Response from Pete Athans:
Many Sherpas are trained at a facility in Manang Village in the heart of the Annapurna region. They take an introductory or advanced course which lasts a month. However, many learn from other Sherpas or foreign mountaineers. Sherpas have climbed without O2 to the summit, but on the job they usually climb with it. Many Sherpas work throughout the year on expeditions and treks.

What a fascinating journey! I have a few questions remaining after spending several hours exploring this website. First, are you able to shower after leaving Base Camp and if so, how? Also, about the Sherpas...How much are the Sherpas paid to do what they do? What do they do the other 10 months of the year? Where do they live? Where do you find reliable Sherpas? Do you outfit them with similar gear as you are equipped with? Thanks and best of luck to you!

Jacki Treml
Ann Arbor, MI

Response from Pete Athans:
There are no showers above Base Camp. In the economy within which Sherpas live they are paid handsomely. In less than a week they make more than a Nepalese government employee makes in a month. Many Sherpas work on treks and expeditions eight months of the year. Some return to their villages for farming or tending yak herds. Others, who have moved to Kathmandu, operate shops with climbing and trekking equipment for sale.

What is the actual trekking distance (not altitude) between Base Camp, Camp I, Camp II, Camp III, Camp IV, and finally, the summit? What are some sample lengths of time needed to traverse each leg going uphill on, say, a good-weather day?

Dave Retzler
San Fransisco, CA

Response from Ed Viesturs:
The actual distance is not that great, it is the altitude gain that is the most difficult part of the climb. We usually measure the distance between the camps by time. Base Camp to camp I is usually 2 1/2 to 5 hours depending on your speed and strength. The time to Camp II is basically the same. Camp II to Camp III is approximately 3-7 hours, Camp III to Camp IV 4-8 hours, Camp IV to summit can be 8-12 hours.
Response from Pete Athans:
The linear distance between the camps is as follows: Base Camp to Camp I is 2 miles, Camp I to Camp II is 2.5 miles, Camp II to Camp III is 2.5 miles, Camp III to Camp IV is 1.5 miles. The time varies depending on the weather and condition of the route.

Have the local authorities or organization of climbers developed new high altitude rescue techniques since last season? Are the number of "climbers" who pay to get to the top of the world down? Best wishes from the children of the Boys and Girls Clubs of West Virginia.

Response from Pete Athans:
There are probably no "new" rescue techniques, but after last year's helicopter rescue success from Camp I, perhaps local authorities are more confident about flying rescues. There does not seem to be any dimunition of guided or outfitted expeditions.

I noticed in the information about who was on the mountain this year that there is a Canadian team. Is there any way for me to find out who the members of the Canadian team are ... ? Thanks - and continued success with the expedition!

Fred Wetzel
Waltham, MA

Response from Base Camp:
The Canadian team members are as follows: Expedition leader Jason Edwards (from Tacoma, Washington), Deputy Leader Jeff Rhoades (Pocatello, Idaho), Jamie Clark (Calgary, Alberta), Allan Hobson (Calgary, Alberta), Expedition Physician Doug Rovira (El Dorado Springs, Colorado). Support staff are Communications Specialist (and NOVA team electrician when we have minor power or electrical problems) Bruce Kirkby (Toronto) and educational liaison David Vavra-Rodney (Calgary).

I have been following your trek up Everest and I was wondering as a 16-year old female who loves to hike, how many women have summited Everest? How many of those women have been American, if any? I hope that the wind relents and you can continue to have a successful climb. Good luck, you are doing great.

Thank you,
Michele Folts
Broadalbin, NY

Response from Pete Athans:
Stacy Allison and Peggy Luce were the first American women to summit Everest. Stacy has written a book about her adventure that might be a good reference for you.

As editor of a magazine on workplace safety (Australian Safety News), I'm interested to know how you approach risk assessment and management. Congratulations on your amazing adventure.

Simon Doctor
Sydney, Australia

Response from Pete Athans:
Each climber evaluates risk individually and chooses to accept or reject the prospect of climbing, depending on his/her tolerance.

As I was reading today's update I was surprised to learn about Spin, the test dummy, accompanying Pete Athans up the summit. What is the purpose of Spin? I'm sure he is to be used for experiments, but what kind? What data do you hope to get as a result of taking Spin up Mt. Everest? Thanks, and keep looking up!

Sharon Simon
Barboursville, WV

Response from Pete Athans:
Spin's predominant purpose is to interject some humour into a frequently serious environment. Spin will be subject to an MRI and other tests upon his return!

I am a junior high computer and math teacher in a very small west Texas town, and am desperately trying to convince my students that there is a big world outside of their small town and they can reach that world via the internet... I would greatly appreciate it if one of the members on the mountain could please e-mail my students about what is going on ... It wouldn't have to be anything too long, but just something from any one of the climbers would be greatly appreciated! My prayers are will all of you in your quest!

Cheryl Rudloff
Lubbock, TX

Response from Base Camp:
Many of us had Everest in our dreams long before we came here and have found that just about anything is possible if you keep trying. We are all waiting for the winds to calm down before we are able to attempt our summit climb and try to keep focused on the climb, the film, and the neuro-behavioral and physiological testing that we must accomplish on Everest in the upcoming weeks. You can follow all of our news on the Internet as we transmit our daily newsflashes from base camp at 17,600 feet.

I know you have heard this many times before but you are truly an inspiration. I cannot begin to tell you how you've changed my life. My question though was, how exactly did you get involved in this? Not everybody climbs Mount Everest. What type of schooling did you have. I think this whole e-mail thing is great.

Michelle Rae Heisner
Howell, MI

Response from David Carter:
I saw Mt. Rainer when I was 14 while travelling on a family vacation. The next year, I challenged my father to climb it with me—and we did. It was an intense climb, I got sick on the summit but I had such a good time I returned the next year and did a five-day climb on Rainer to learn proper climbing techniques. I fell in love with climbing. Ever since, I have had some incredible experiences in the mountains. Mt. Everest was a draw in my life ever since seventh grade when I did a book report on this great mountain—I fell in love with it then and have been haunted by it ever since.

Hope all is going well! I am very interested if any blood gas studies will be made. Is anyone on the team on any type of medication—vitamins or prescribed medication? Why are no women on the climb? Take care.

Betsy Tingler
Ruther Glen, VA

Response from Base Camp:
There are no blood gas studies being made on this expedition. We are conducting neuro-behavioral tests with our climbers along with taking pulse oximeter readings at various altitudes. There are no women climbing, but we do have a female Co-Producer and Associate Producer at Base Camp.
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