With less than two weeks before we head off to Nepal, the last 7 days were spent training hard, checking gear and trying to tick off as many items as possible from our list of things that need to be done before we leave.
We had a cycling criterium last night and it was great fun racing with lots of the international teams that are here in Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games. There were many attempts by groups to break away during the race, but all were reeled in. It was a bunch sprint at the end of the A Grade race and I was really happy to keep up with the main bunch to the end. Fiona came second in C Grade, which was an excellent result.
As you can see from the photo, Fiona has been busy sewing this week. On Khan Tengri we both got cold hands – I had frost nip on most fingers and Fiona had frostbite on her thumb. Fortunately it has all healed 100%, but on Everest it’s likely to be colder and although we have different gloves (hopefully better), we want to have something else to put on over our expedition mitts in case its very cold. We looked around on the internet to try to find some overgloves, and even purchased a couple to try, but none were big enough to go over our bulky high altitude mitts without significantly compressing them and reducing their insulating properties. So we decided to make our own.
We went to a few sewing shops to try to find insulating material, but couldn’t find anything suitable, so we came up with the idea of cutting up a synthetic sleeping bag. At a cost of about $100, this was a pretty economical way to buy quality fabric that we knew was designed to keep out the cold. The gloves take a long time to make, but the two that we have produced so far work really well. I can tell you we are not about to go into production, and after doing this we can much better appreciate the effort in design and manufacture that goes into the rest of the gear we use!
We have also been organising a comprehensive assortment of medical supplies to take whilst on the climb. Apart from the standard blister repair kit and strapping tape, we will be taking plenty of pain killers and antibiotics including Zithromax – treating upper respiratory infection, Ciprofloxacin – treating bacterial gastrointestinal infections and Maxolon for relieving the symptoms of nausea. We are also taking Diamox, which some people claim can help you acclimatise faster. We have used it in the past and have had no trouble acclimatising, but we are not sure if this can be attributed to Diamox.
Many people don’t like Diamox because its a mild diuretic, and loosing fluids is not something that you want when you are exercising hard at high altitude. We probably won’t actually use Diamox this time – but will take it with us in case we change our minds.
We also will be carrying a drug called Dexamethasone, which is a steroid used to treat the symptoms of brain edema (swelling of the brain). This is injected into the patient (IM) and within a few hours can completely remove the symptoms, allowing the person to descend. We are also carrying Nifedipine tablets for treating Pulmonary Edema (fluid on the lungs). Both of these are only to be used in emergency situations, and although we have carried them before we have never used them.
On Everest we would hope to be able to contact the base camp medical service on the radio for advice prior to administering any of these medications.
You may also be interested to see an article about us which was published on Explorers Web – see http://www.mounteverest.net/news.php?id=1649