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Responses and Comments #10<
May 17, 1997

Hi, We read your newsflashes every day! We were wondering what the boiling point of water is at Base Camp and at the higher camps? We looked it up and found that Everest Base Camp has an atmospheric pressure of about half that at sea level which significantly decreases boiling point. Can you put your hand in boiling water at Camp III and IV? We climbed Mt. Adams in Washington a few years ago and noticed that even at 8000 ft. our pasta had a real hard time getting soft. Do you use pressure cookers or do you live with crunchy pasta?

Good luck!
Charles Balogh
Portland, OR
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
It is possible to grab something from boiling water, but if you leave you hand in the water you will definitely get burned. The boiling point at Base Camp is 175 degrees Fahrenheit (212 degrees at sea level). At Base Camp we use pressure cookers to cook pasta and rice which cuts the cooking time in half. The climbers use pressure cookers on the mountain at Camp II.

Howard Donner MD,
Greetings from those of us who remain sanely at sea level. Are there physiology experiments other than the neurological testing going on up there? What kinds of diagnostic equipment do you have at Base Camp? If you could have only one piece (excluding a stethoscope) what would it be? Do any of these incredibly buffed individuals (including yourself, of course) ever get anginal type chest pain? Have any/all of these folks ever had a cardiac echo? Would any of these folks LIKE a cardiac echo? (I'll spring for the tape). How on earth did you get this gig? Stay safe, warm and reasonably well O2 saturated.

Susan J. Alexander, MD
San Francisco, CA
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
We are looking at limited physiologic parameters including oximetry and respiratory rate all the way to the summit. Our main focus is on the psychometric tests. At Base Camp we have access to limited equipment: a pulse oximetry, oto and opthalmoscope, stethoscope and thermometer. If I had to choose only one piece it would be the oximeter—it's a good tool to determine response to oxygen (i.e. guess-timate degree of shunt). There have been case reports of anginal in trekkers, however; I have never heard of an episode of angina in a Himalayan climber. As you know, I always carry Nitrostat SL, Transdermal Nitro Patches, a Beta-blocker, and a highly sophisticated drug called aspirin. There have been a number of studies looking at cardiac function at altitude, including extensive echo cardiography at Operation Everest II (OEII) in Natick, MA in 1985. Amongst others, Dr. Ben Levine, a cardiologist in Austin, TX has been highly involved with echo cardiography as well.

This is a message to and a question for Ed Viesturs: Ed, it's been a few years since I bumped into you on the summit of Rainier and even longer since I was on your rope, but I wanted to send you some good wishes as you make yet another climb of Everest. My question for you is: why do you return to Everest year after year? You've already proved yourself there by summiting several times without oxygen and carrying the IMAX camera to the summit. What's left for you there and why not complete the other 8000-meter peaks?

Hope to hear from you when you get back and perhaps bump into you on Rainier this summer.

Best Regards,
Martin Pazzani
Farmington, CT
Response from Ed Viesturs:
Hey Martin, great to hear from you. This will be my last Everest climb for some time. This year, I had the opportunity to work on this NOVA physiology film with David Breashears so I went for it. I will go to Broad Peak in June—my 10th 8000-er. Next year I will concentrate on doing two or three new 8000ers. I vow not to be on Everest for quite some time!

I read a book detailing how Hillary and Norgay overcame what is now known as the Hillary Step and it seemed quite a challenge, especially in the thin air. He described how they had to wedge themselves between rock and ice and inch their way up. If it wasn't for all the fixed rope that now covers this treacherous part of the climb, would "clients" be able to summit Everest via the South Col Route?

Chris McElmeel
Wolerine Lake
Response from Pete Athans:
This part of the climb is notorious, but only about 25 to 30 feet high. While quite a piece of exposed climbing in the 1950's, it is a reasonable prospect in 1997. The fixed rope makes moving more efficient.

David, when and where can we see your 1996 IMAX film?

Marlene Nece
Miami, Florida
Response from David Breashears:
The Everest IMAX film is scheduled to premiere in March of 1998.

Thank you for sharing your incredible experiences with the world. Aside from the hazards of weather and altitude what is the most technically difficult part of the mountain. Is it the yellow band, Hillary step, or another ? Why angle of accent, deep snow, avalanche danger, cornices, old rock, etc.? You are all in our thoughts and prayers for a successful summit and safe return.

Terry Thompson
San Diego, California
Response from Pete Athans:
Technically, traversing from the South Summit to 100' above Hillary Step is the most exposed, difficult spot.

What kind of dreams do you have? Do you find them more vivid, peaceful, violent, spiritual? Do you ever wake up and find yourself disoriented as to where you are? At times of increased fatigue or stress I dream about college class finals when I forgot to actually take the class, or that I failed board exams, or that I couldn't complete a surgery. Are any of you Eagle Boy Scouts.? Do you share a certain faith? Best wishes.

Douglas K.Fenton, M.D.
La Costa, CA
Response from Dave Carter:
It's very rare that I have a dream at altitude. I do find myself disorientated especially following an exhausting day. Sometimes I'll wake up and not know where I am for a split second and then I'll realize where I am. I am an Eagle Scout.

I heard someone say that the new version of the Indy cars for the Indianapolis 500 must be as loud as the howling winds on the summit. I think that's probably true, it just doesn't create a wind chill factor at the track. David we are all rooting for you back here in Indiana along with all your partners. Let's hope you get the climb in before the 500 takes place!

Bill Kitch
Indianapolis, IN
Response from Dave Carter:
The winds sound like a 747 taking off. Things are going well. I should be back in Indiana in about three weeks.

This is truly incredible, to be able to follow your trek up Mt. Everest. I enjoy reading your newsflashes and all the questions and answers. My question concerns short-roping. Can you tell me exactly what is happening when a person is being short-roped? Is it like having a sling around you and being pulled up by someone else? Or are you actually carrying someone? Thank you and I wish the very best for you all up there on that mountain.

Vivki Campos
San Antonio, TX
Response from Pete Athans:
Short roping simply means the distance between the two climbers is less than 40 feet.

Greetings to HoDo and the team from your followers and well-wishers in T-ride! We've been following the dispatches closely, and hope your weather clears soon for the summit—Howard, will you have the honor and challenge of going to the top, or is Spin taking your place?

Godspeed, all of you.
Lee Taylor
Telluride, CO

Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
Spin is on for me this time. Maybe we should consider an interview on KOTO with Spin when we return. Thanks for watching our site.

Hello there on the top of the world. My question is concerning the newsflash that was posted on May 9, 1997. The Sherpa that was treated for HAPE by using a make shift hyperbaric {Gamon Bay}, I was wondering if you could explain how it might be different with the current chambers found at hospitals or flight treatment centers? Also, what kind of depths due you take the patients down to.

Take care and God's speed,
Richard N. Lawson, BS, CCP
Springfield, IL
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
The portable, fabric hyperbaric chambers that we use are pressurized to relatively low pressures (i.e. 2 PSI), compared with rigid hyperbaric chambers found at medical institutions. Ascent to the summit of Everest reduces the atmospheric pressure by approximately two thirds. Diving to only 20 feet below the ocean increases the pressure by the same amount. As you can see the pressures used for recompressing diving injuries are orders of magnitude higher.

Greetings to David Carter: Hi Dave!!! You guys really have to have patience waiting for your window of opportunity to climb to the summit. I hope it is not a traffic jam. Question: Has there ever been a year where the weather conditions prevented any of the groups to summit? We all are waiting for you to come home and know you will welcome the comforts of your home in Arden.

Your family friend,
Nancy Wickstrand
Indianapolis, IN
Response from Dave Carter:
Yes, there have been many years that climbers have not reached the summit due to weather and other circumstances. We are concerned about all of the climbers possibly going up on the same day to the summit. It is our hope to be one of the first teams out of Camp IV, to be ahead of the crowds.

Hi, my name is McKenna and I am 11 years old. My dad, my brother, and I have taken up the sport of cliff climbing and I just received my first climbing harness for my 11th birthday. Being a girl, I was wondering if there are many female climbers on Everest? Have any of them made it to the summit? Also, have you always liked to climb or did you start out when you were adults? Good luck, stay safe, climb on.

McKenna Wagner
Appleton, WI

P.S. How do you make yak tea?
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.
Response from Dr. Howard Donner:
Yak tea is made from essentially rancid Yak butter, salt and black tea. It is not a favorite of ours here at Base Camp.

What, if anything, has your team heard or learned about the Yeti? Is this creature of legend the subject of any research or is it simply dismissed as a fanciful creation of Hollywood?

Emmett Lyne
Response from Pete Athans:
Hollywood did not create the legend of Yeti. The stories have existed for centuries in Sherpa culture. In Sherpa lore, there was a war between Sherpa and Yetis to drive the Yetis out of the Khumbu. Sherpa consider it very bad luck to see a Yeti, or evidence of them. Their existence is widely disputed. More recently, near Gokyo, there was an alleged Yeti attack of a Yak.
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