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Climbing the World to End Alzheimer's
Apr 302010

As we spend the last day of April monitoring the climbers on both sides of Everest, sick I thought it would be good to look at their motivations.

Climbing historians know of the famous 1923 George Mallory quote, hospital “Because it’s there” in response to a New York Times reporter who asked why he climbs.

Well today, many climbers agree with that statement but others have more personal reasons.

  • Cindy Abbott has the rare disease Wegener’s granulomatosis that has no cure. She is raising awareness of this fatal disease and the National Organization on Rare Diseases
  • Wendy Booker has MS and is climbing to educate the world that having MS does not mean stopping your life
  • Elia Saikaly is climbing to inspire the children of Canada that they can do anything they dream
  • TA Loeffler from Newfoundland speaks to thousands of kids each year and wants them to take more steps to their health
  • Sandhosh Kunmar is raising awareness in his home country of India against child abuse
  • Brad Jackson and Sandy Hobby is educating Australians about bowl cancer
  • Matt Snook & Pete Sunnucks are raising money for the Afghanistan war heroes of the UK
  • Paul & Denise Fejtek are champions for the Challenged Athlete Foundation
  • Robert Hill with No Guts Know Glory is raising awareness of intestinal disease

And there are many more. These causes are personal to the climbers and are generally focused within their community of friends and family. Climbing Everest can garner publicity for a cause that would be difficult otherwise.

The primary action on both sides right now is working on their acclimatization through rotations to from low to high camps.

Russell Brice gave these orders to his climbers as they prepared to go through the Icefall for the first time:

He urged the team to push hard and try to get to Camp 2 on the same day as it is a better camp to be in and more beneficial for the acclimatisation process. “Those, who have not reached Camp 1 by 8am, should stay there for the rest of the day and continue to Camp 2 very early the next day,” he said. The reason for this tight cut-off time is the blazing heat that engulfs the Western Cwm later in the day. The Western Cwm lies between Camp 1 and Camp 2 and is a snowy ‘bowl’, where the sun gets trapped and temperatures soar to a level that is almost unbearable. “Even though this will be hard, remember that the higher we go, the harder it gets,” Russell said.

About half the crew made it to Camp 2 on Friday while the other half is staying at Camp 1 and will continue to Camp 2 early tomorrow morning. However, to put it the walking time into perspective, most of the members took between six and eight hours to Camp 1, whereas the Sherpa crew takes about 4.5 hours from base camp all the way to Camp 2.

Jamie Clark with Hanesbrands presents a dramatization at camp 3 showing the wind and conditions on the Lhotse Face in a brief video.

Back at Base Camp, the weather is getting a bit warmer causing tent platforms to melt. This is an annual event as we move into May, the days get longer, temps warmer and ice melts. Remember that the south side Base Camp in on the Khumbu Glacier. AAI reports:

Ellie has managed to get some pretty impressive waterways going through the ice around the camp. These help to keep everyone’s tents intact so they have a bed to come home to when they come down off the mountain.

I just love this post by Adventure’s Consultants Mike Hamill, while short, it is the Blog of the Day.

the weather starts to clear but light snow continues to fall. Zangbu our cook stays in bed waiting for instructions from Ang Dorje or myself. In other words he has made his decision.

Sometimes even the cooks need a day off! Seriously, these guys work so hard. Anyone who has been on a large expedition knows that they are another member of the unsung heroes who get climbers going every day. By “sleeping in”, he probably got up at 3:15 AM, not 3!

EverestER’s Dr. Steve Halvorson has an interesting post today where he shows the risks of climbing somewhat alone on Everest – you are literally putting your life in the hands of strangers. A lone climber was brought down from camp 2 and –

Our neighboring expedition manager had brought word over the radio that an unaffiliated climber (when one gets in trouble, assistance comes solely at the high-altitude benevolence of other expeditions) was having trouble at camp 2, having awakened to oxygen saturations in the low 50’s, breathing fast at rest, and, while able to walk, able only without a pack and downhill.

All were thinking high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). Medications and oxygen were provided under the ‘s direction and underway was a generous, coordinated effort to get him down. Over the Khumbu and through the worst, nine hours later he was in our tent, damp clothing stripped, further medications administered and the healing power of descent made manifest. While clearly fatigued, still breathing a little fast, his oxygen level was vastly improved. After a round of soup and a few hours of observation, he was discharged to sleep “at home” with “O’s” under the watchful eye of some new friends..

Speaking of medical issues, even a 19 time Everest summiter can get sick. Apa Sherpa is reporting a bad case of the Khumbu cough:

Unfortunately, he has been plagued by a very bad case of the Khumbu Cough. A cough may not seem like that big of a deal, but when you’re struggling to get enough oxygen with every breath, a cough can cut your energy and ability to perform severely. Apa is taking it very practically. He says that if the cough is too bad, he will turn back and delay his last rotation.

Duncan Chessell reports that teams have stocked oxygen bottles already as high as camp 2 or 7700m (25,262′) on the north side. And Dan Mazzur of Summit Climb notes the route has been moved away from the avalanche area that took a life earlier this week near the North Col.

Look for more reports of progress with almost every team hitting their high point for acclimatizing soon. Then they will return to the lower altitudes to recover and wait for the infamous summit window.

Climb On!


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