Two weeks to go
Fiona making overgloves.
The finished product!
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 its 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 gastro intestinal 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 Endema (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
Posted by: Liz Plummer on March 8, 2006 02:51 PM AEST
Fiona, I had dinner with your mum last week and she told me about your adventures. You are a courageous couple. This climb will be so exciting not just for you but for those of us who have to do it vicariously.
Good luck and I hope the giant mits keep you toastie.
Posted by: Andrew and Liz Sutcliffe on March 8, 2006 07:12 PM AEST
You must be getting pretty excited by now. We also loved the overmits. Liz is studying Homoeopathy and was not so sure on your drug list!
Enjoy the two weeks remaining and we will be looking forward to the updates.
PS We met briefly when you were on your last training stint at Mt Bogong.
Andrew and Liz
Posted by: Ken and Kathryn on March 8, 2006 11:06 PM AEST
All the best guys. When you get back looks like you will have another pair of oven mitts to use.
Looking forward to seeing the updates :-)
Posted by: Glenda Baker on March 9, 2006 03:15 PM AEST
Dear Fiona and Paul,
I was thrilled to see your photo in the Herald Sun last weekend. I think the Eureka Tower would be high enough for myself and many other not so adventurous people. I think your over gloves are a great idea and using the sleeping bag for material was very clever. Good luck, I look forward to following your climb from home.
Posted by: Tony Frederick on March 10, 2006 04:14 PM AEST
Good luck to you both, as you know we have a recent almost Everest hero here who I think is now over the shock.
So I have a small understanding of what you have achieved so far and will experience in the future.
But remember one thing you will be the best looking couple on that bloody mountain.
Posted by: Valerie Johnson on March 11, 2006 08:10 PM AEST
You are attempting what most of us can only dream about. I wish you all the luck in the world to reach the top of the world. We will be following your updates.
Valerie & Rummy
Posted by: Jordan Family (mainly Deb, Ned, & Holly) on March 13, 2006 09:20 PM AEST
Good luck to your climb, I hope you make it safely ... we will watch your progress and be thinking of you. (Ned 7)
And, thank you for the opportunity for the children to follow your journey, to cheer you on, and to dream themselves. Everest is a long held fantasy for another lifetime; but warm thoughts to you for this one. (Deb - mum)
Posted by: Marlene Trenerry on March 17, 2006 12:42 PM AEST
Good luck to you both on this mamoth task you have set yourselves, have a safe and successful climb go go go!! Marlene, Ray, Sara and Michael