Deciding on an expedition logistics provider for Everest 2007
Fiona climbs up through the icefall for the last time on our summit bid in May 2006. This ladder was extremely wobbly as the ice had melted from underneath the left leg. We were also very worried about this section as it appeared likely to fall at any moment. Our fears were justified - this section had collapsed by the time we came down after our summit bid. Photo Paul Adler
Hi it’s Paul here,
Just a short update to let you know about my progress in selecting a company to organize logistics for my Everest expedition in March 2007.
Over the past two months I have been busy talking to a number of companies to get an understanding of the services that they supply. I have considered options ranging from fully guided with one of the main western companies, to some of the smaller western companies, through to directly engaging a local Nepalese company to organize the logistics. Before our 2006 climb, I was concerned about being part of a group that had to move together on the mountain. I was worried about the consequences of feeling pressure to move when you were not personally ready. In my case, I got a chest infection in April, which took me over two weeks to recover, but Fiona and I were able to sit at base camp and wait until we were totally ready to move up. I am not sure what would have happened if we not able to have this recovery time.
There are several Nepalese companies that can organize the logistics for an Everest expedition. As far as I know, all the Western companies engage the services of local outfitters to provide base camp services, securing a climbing permit, hiring of Sherpas, provision of most food, tents, stoves, fuel etc. I am warming to the idea of going direct to a Nepalese company and supporting their economy. My observations this year were that the Nepalese really ran the show as far as logistics were concerned, and this has given me some confidence for going direct. So at this stage I am definitely leaning more towards using a local company rather than a Western one.
Along with a long list of questions about the group structure and company’s history on the mountain, I’m also particularly interested in the type of oxygen system they use and the quality of their food and equipment. I’ve been doing quite a lot of research on the oxygen systems and I’ve decided I want to use new Poisk oxygen bottles that have been filled by Poisk in St. Petersburg, and a new regulator. Combined with a TopOut mask (just put my order in yesterday morning), I think that this will give me the best chance of success and most importantly, safety.
I’ve also decided to hire a personal Sherpa to climb with me throughout the expedition (as Fiona and I did this year). I think if there’s one thing anyone can do to improve their safety on the mountain, it would be to hire a personal Sherpa. You never know exactly what’s going to happen up there, how you’ll feel, or what your judgment will be like, so I think its only common sense to climb with a partner (and the Sherpas definitely make excellent partners).
A couple of people have contacted me saying that they are also trying to decide on a company to organize an expedition to the South side of Everest in Spring 2007, so if there any other people out there who are interested in joining me in my search and sharing what information you have, I encourage you to contact me. I have been trying to talk to as many people as possible who have climbed with each company, so if you have any suggestions, please post a message.
So far, the organisations I have been in touch with are:
High Altitude Dreams
Sherpa Shangri-La Treks & Expeditions
Are there any others that you would recommend or some that you would not recommend? Have you used any of these? If so, I’d be very interested to hear from you. I encourage you to post your question, comment or suggestion to the site because it's most likely other readers will also be interested in what you have to say. We prefer you to only use direct email if your message is strictly personal, commercially sensitive or you really don't want it to be aired publicly.
Bye for now,
Posted by: Roger Crawford on November 22, 2006 11:54 AM AEST
Im curious how much do you think it may cost to pursue Everest the way you are proposing.
Who do you purchase your permit off.
Have you seen permits and Sherpa costs have risen on the north side, see this link,
What sort of figure do you think you will budget for. I guess at least now you have all of your gear sorted so that is one expense out of the way
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 22, 2006 12:36 PM AEST
Hi Roger, I hadn't heard about the increase in prices on the North side, but looking at the article it seems less than $1000 - any increase hurts the hip pocket, but in the overall scheme of things it's not too much.
I am estimating that the logistics will cost about $30,000. This includes all base camp food and equipment, climbing permit and most food and equipment above base camp, including tents and stoves although this does depend on the company. It would include one Sherpa to help with establishing the camps above base camp, and a cook at C2. Depending on the company, I should only need to bring clothes, a sleeping bag for base camp and on the mountain, personal climbing gear, and snack food. I will probably bring my own food for C1, C3 and C4 as you don't spend many nights there and that way you know what you are going to get.
Gear costs less than $4500 for down suit, boots, gloves, down jacket, two sleeping bags and basic climbing hardware. You don't need very big sleeping bags as you can sleep in your down suit. The other cost is a personal Sherpa which usually ends up being about $6000 including their tips. All prices are in USD.
Hope this helps,
Posted by: Jill from Dallas, TX on November 23, 2006 01:05 AM AEST
Paul, thanks for encouraging folks to post here (and for all info from you) so that we can experience all of this vicariously! I can hardly wait until things "crank up" in the spring!
Posted by: Mike Squier on November 23, 2006 12:31 PM AEST
Hi Paul & Fi,
I enjoyed your site and found it very informative. I am going on a climb in the Argentine Andes and wondered about the oxygen system you had on your site under gear and equipment. I like the mask you had pictured. The caption read that it was from International Mountain Guides, but did not mention who the manufacturer or sellers are.
Can you advise me as to who sells that mask and regulator?
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 23, 2006 12:49 PM AEST
The masks we used are called TopOut and they were great. They are made by Ted Atkins and you can buy them from him through his website at www.topout.co.uk. Mine cost me ₤270 including shipping. We found them very comfortable to wear as the rubber is soft and flexible, even in the cold. There were no leaks and therefore no fogging up of goggles. I have updated our gear section with some more information about the masks and IMG’s oxygen system. I have put some better photos in there too. Regarding the regulator, you buy them from your oxygen supplier. An IMG regulator only works on IMG bottles and isn’t compatible with POISK at all and visa versa, however you would only be exposed to IMG equipment if you were on one of their trips. Obviously because almost everyone uses Poisk oxygen, TopOut masks come standard with the adapter to connect to a Poisk regulator.
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 23, 2006 12:53 PM AEST
Hi Jill, Thanks for your message. Yes, it is much better if people can post here; that way the information can be shared with everyone. Any posts that are made here get emailed automatically to Fiona and I so we do see them straight away.
Posted by: MC - Vancouver - Washington - USA on November 23, 2006 04:37 PM AEST
You are very wise to use only Poisk oxygen bottles. From all the info I have read, Poisk oxygen filled in the factories at St. Petersburg have the best safety record.
Regarding a personal sherpa, another wise decision. A friend of mine who attempted Everest in 2005 regretted not hiring a sherpa and felt it contributed to his failure to summit. He hired a sherpa last spring and summitted.
Good luck with your decision on whether you go with a large or small Western Co. or set up the logistics yourself. It would be nice if you could get recommendations from people who have used Nepalese companies direct. Does Allen Arnette have connections?
The Adler army will be with you every step of the way. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. MC
Posted by: Larry and Marianne Benvenuti on November 24, 2006 07:31 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona,
Thanks for the update on your next Mount Everest adventure.
We are sure that you will choose the appropriate provider to help you reach the TOP.
Still celebrating at Den's Dong with Den and Tam.
Larry and Marianne Benvenuti
Posted by: JB on November 24, 2006 11:06 AM AEST
Why not try from the North Side? Atleast you can then say been there on both sides..You can go with some excellent outfitters there (Himex is not one of them !). Try Jamie McGuiness's outfit or Dan's or go alone with Asian trekking (basic logistics). It will keep your expense down (it does not looks you are short of funds !)...If you reach to the top atleast you can say I followed Irvine and Mallorys route (the jury is out there who climbed first.
Good luck in the coming season...would love to climb but financially not possible @ this stage for me. Are you looking for a cheap sherpa ?
Posted by: Ben Stuckey on November 25, 2006 09:49 AM AEST
Best wishes on your upcoming Everest attempt. I will be attempting Mount Everest this Spring from the North side. I am going with Dan Mazur's Summitclimb. I have previously joined him for Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam with great success. Your level of service needed or required would not be a problem for him and his organization. I would be happy to give you more information if you wanted.
Whatever your choice is, best of luck!
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 27, 2006 08:14 AM AEST
After next year I will know firsthand what the differences are between Poisk and IMG's bottles and will be happy to share my experiences. Have been in touch with Alan Arnette but I don't think he has any companies to add to the list. Alan steered me in the direction of Sherpa Shangri La because of good feedback from Joseph Acero. Both Alan's attempts were with Adventure Consultants.
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 27, 2006 08:46 AM AEST
I did think about going to the North side, but I decided against it because the route is more exposed to the prevailing winds, plus its harder to decend quickly if you need to. The summit day on the South side is much steeper than the North and you have to climb higher (550m on the North, and 860m on the South), but it has the advantage that you can loose altitude quickly on the way down.
I haven't thought too much about Sherpas yet, but I imagine that I will source one through the agency that I select for the climb. Do you know of a good Sherpa?
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 27, 2006 08:55 AM AEST
Best of luck with your climb of Everest next year. Will you be doing any updates from the Mountain?
I have heard a number of good things from climbers about Dan Mazur's outfit. I'd be really interested to hear more about your experiences with Summit Climb on Ama Dablam and Cho Oyu? Were the groups very large? Was it well organised? What was the food like? Quality of the tents at base camp and above?
Posted by: David L. Mohn on November 27, 2006 08:56 AM AEST
I note that in a 1993 combined study, the height of Everest was determined to be 8823.51 meters (minus the 2.55 m of snow). But, can you tell me the approximate girth (distance around the base), or do you know where I might locate such a datum?
Thanks for any help.
David L. Mohn
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 27, 2006 09:15 AM AEST
Not sure about the 1993 study. I'd be interested to know where you found that? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Everest lists the history of measurement of the height of Everest and according to the most recent estimates listed it's about 8848m. Interestingly, in 1852 when they first measured Everest from India, 240 km away, they arrived at 8839m. This is so close to the current value, which is pretty impressive I think, given the distance and the technology available to them at the time.
How to work out the distance around the base of Mt. Everest?? Perhaps you could get a satelite picture from Google Earth and then estimate it from that. I assume that you can see a scale in Google Earth pictures.
Best of Luck!
Posted by: David L. Mohn on November 27, 2006 11:21 PM AEST
That info of 8823 m can be found at http://www.leica-geosystems.com/corporate/en/solutions/other/lgs_2689.htm
Posted by: Gavin Turner on November 28, 2006 08:40 PM AEST
I am glad to hear that you have decided to go again next year to Everest. I followed yours and Fiona's climb after meeting Mary on the trail near Deboche earlier this year.
I am going to Denali next May for a climb on the West Rib and am busy training. I was wondering what amendments you will be making to your training for your next attempt on Everest? I am using a combination of various Denali training programs I have found on the net. I'd be happy to email those to you if you wish to see them.
Can you tell me what camera Julie Smith was using on Summit Day? My Pentax Optio does not stand up to freezing conditions.
A friend of mine is a guide with Dan Mazur and everything I have heard sounds excellent. He can also tailor a climb to suit the individual, ie--guided/non-guided/base-camp support only etc. You should speak with him about next year.
All the best in your bid to climb Everest.
Posted by: Paul Adler on November 29, 2006 05:38 PM AEST
Thanks for following us this year and sending messages - everyone's messages were a huge help in keeping us motivated on such a long expedition.
It would be great if you can post the links to the Denali training sites here - I am very interested in this and I am sure that a few other people might also like to see them.
I have been meaning to post an update about my training this year. Basically doing the same as last year, just adding in 3 runs a week. Last year we did no running at all. On Monday I run for 1.5 hours in the hills, on Wednesday I run for 1.5 hours on the sand and on Friday I have been doing two interval running sessions. On saturday I have started doing a long ride of about 200km. Still no weight training and still plenty of cycling. I plan to do some training during the night (probably my Wednesday run) to get more used to working in the dark.
I looked at the EXIF data from Julie's photos and she used a Nikon E5600 camera. That said, I used to have a Pentax Optio S4i camera and it worked very well in the cold. That was before I dropped it down the side of a mountain. I am sure you already know this, but I would think that how a camera functions in the cold is probably more about how you carry the camera than the model and brand. For me the best that I have found is to have it inside a ziploc bag under your down jacket close to your body. Fiona gave her camera to her Sherpa, so she is not sure how it was carried, but it sounds to me like it was carried in an outside pocket. Fiona's had a Canon Ixus 500 and I had a Canon Powershot S80. Lithium batteries are obviously a must.
Thanks for the feedback about Dan Mazur. Best of luck on Denali - I would love to climb it one day.
Posted by: Ben Stuckey on November 29, 2006 11:14 PM AEST
I responded to one of your entries on your website a few days ago concerning Everest in the Spring. I wanted to respond to your questions concerning Dan Mazur and Summitclimb.
As a team we will be posting updates of our climb of Everest from the Tibetan side. I am sure you are familiar with www.everestnews.com This is the website we use and we just call in via satellite phone daily. Dan is very laid back and allows the members to do the updates if we wish. I usually end up doing a few updates on everestnews but other than that I do not have my own website.
Overall, on Cho Oyu and Ama Dablam my experience with Summitclimb has been fantastic. Very well organized and not a detail spared. Everything that they committed to beforehand actually happened (e.g. permits, lodging, food, transportation, etc.) On Cho Oyu there were 20 "climbers" plus Tibetan staff and on Ama Dablam there were 3 "climbers" plus Nepalese staff. Keep in mind that Summitclimb is a non-guided trip organizer. They do provide great leadership on the mountain but overall it is up to you to climb when you want to, to make your own food on the mountain, ice to melt, etc.
The food on the mountain was great. At B.C. the sherpas make the food for the entire group but on the mountain it is up to you. We had everything from pizza, to spaghetti with yak meat sauce, various chicken dishes, of course chapatti, potatoes, eggs, porridge, and much more. Snacks in the afternoon were popcorn, fresh cut french fries (chips) various tinned meats and more.
The quality of the tents at B.C. and on the mountain were great. They use nothing but Ozark tents. This tent is 100% identical to the North Face VE-25 except without the "North Face" label. Therefore it is cheaper for Summitclimb and the tents are every bit as strong and durable as TNF is. At B.C. each member has their own tent and on the mountain we usually had 2 per tent. On occasion there were 3 people to a tent but I never experienced that. I was fortunate and my summit days were early on so therefore the rest of the group came up the next day.
I am fully committed to climbing Everest from the North and I welcome the immense challenge. I can't believe my dream is coming true. I believe you are going on the South again and I wish you 100% happiness and safety. As the great climber Ed Viesturs says "Going up is optional, getting down is mandatory."
Posted by: Scott on December 1, 2006 04:38 AM AEST
Hi Paul and Fiona. Great web site. I just found it yesterday and have really enjoyed reading it. I have a question for you. You may have answered this before but, why go back again? You made the top last year. Why not go to another 8000m peak. What is it about Everest that is drawing you back?
I can't seem to find a trip report from last years Everest trip on your web site. Is it there and I just can't see it. I would be interested to read about it if they are available.
I am working towards Everest for the spring of 2008. I am planning on Ama Dablam next fall as a warm-up.
I look forward to following you on your journey.
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 1, 2006 11:20 PM AEST
Thanks for your great post. There has been quite a bit of positive feedback for Summit Climb. I'll definately take it into consideration.
Best of luck with the climb on the North this year - I'll listen out for your name on the radios if we can pick you up again. We were able to listen to climbers on the North side from base camp this year.
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 1, 2006 11:38 PM AEST
We should write up a trip report so that people who didn't follow the expedition in 2006 can quickly get up to speed. In the meantime at the bottom of the home page is a link to a list of all the posts we have done on the site. You will be able to get a good idea of our trip just by reading the headings.
Fiona made the summit of Everest at 7:50am on May 23, but I had a problem with my oxygen and had to turn around. My oxygen cylinder should have lasted me 10 hours, however it was completely exmpty after 3 hours. I was 20' below the South Summit (this is 28,700') and suddenly with no oxygen and no reserve. I was using IMG's oxygen system and they use heavier, larger bottles, but fewer, however you only have 1 bottle above the balcony.
It really wasn't a good situation. Fortunantly a Sherpa came past on his way down and gave me his bottle, getting me out of a very dangerous predicament.
Why do I want to go back? It's a good question. The simple answer is to get to the top. I was 300' from the summit, but that's still over an hour away. Climbing Everest has been a dream for me for most of my life and having put so much blood, sweat and tears into it so far, and not to get there, just makes me even more determined to go back and do it.
Best of luck with your training and preparations. Fiona and I are more than happy to answer any questions you might have about climbing Everest.
Posted by: Scott on December 2, 2006 06:29 AM AEST
Thanks for the reply Paul. I did not realize you didn't make it in 2006.
Best of luck this year.
Posted by: Gavin Turner on December 2, 2006 07:52 PM AEST
Here is the link for the Denali training program I am roughly following. It is pretty thorough, although I am doing more running than it suggests. Obviously there are many different training schedules one can follow, I am currently adapting this one. Just click on either of the two PDF document links that you will see on the page that this link will take you two.
I hope your training and prep is going well Paul. If you ever are coming up to Sydney, feel free to give me an email...
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 2, 2006 08:46 PM AEST
Thanks for putting this up. It's very interesting. The program looks pretty comprehensive, however to me it's lacking one major aspect. As far as I can tell there is no long duration exercise in the program. Each session seems to last not much more than 1.5 hours; if you are training for something that lasts 1.5 hours, that's fine, but somehow I don’t think that Denali is going to be that!
At the start of the training document they state the outcomes that the program hopes to achieve:
• You should be able to walk and climb moderate snow and ice slopes for up to six to eight hours a day, carrying up to fifty pounds of supplies on your back and pulling up to one hundred pounds of supplies on a sled (at the same time!).
• You should be able to recover from a hard day’s climbing within an eight to twelve hour period to resume another day of hard physical exertion.
To acheive those things you need to do them. Pulling a sled might not be possible, but doing initially one long day of exercise (6 hours+) and then following it up with another long day, as you get more accustomed, is what it's going to take to build up the right level of stamina.
I have recently been given the training program for an AFL football club and it's interesting to note that most of their training sessions are broken up into 4 x 30 minute sections all completed one after the other (eg, weights 30 minutes, riding 30 minutes, running 30 minutes, skills 30 minutes) and I think that this must be to mimic the duration and structure of a game. Climbers need to do the same.
Finding the time to fit in long sessions isn't easy, but it's possible over the weekend. At the moment my long sessions consist of a 6 hour bike ride on Saturday and a 3 hour ride on Thursday. I don't think that cycling is any better training than running, it's just that my running technique isn't good enough to run regularly that long.
This year Fiona and I were lucky enough to be able to do a lot of hiking before we went to Everest. Between December 05 and mid March 06 we did 32 days of bushwalking (walked most of the Australian Alp Walking Track), plus we did a number of multi stage bike races, on top of a fairly busy training schedule. After all this I would say that our fitness levels were only about average compared with the other climbers on Everest.
This year I don't have the time to do that much bushwalking and it was too much time to spend in a tent when you are about to spend 70+ days straight in one, so we are going to look at different ways to achieve a similar effect. Over the summer holidays we plan to go and camp at the bottom of Mt. Bogong and climb up and down it twice a day for 4 days (takes about 3.5 hours each round trip). We also did this last year and I think it's effective.
I hope some of this is useful. I'd be interested to hear what you think of these comments.
My training is going OK. I did have some niggling injuries a couple of weeks back, but these have straightened themselves out, so that's good.
Posted by: Scott on December 3, 2006 05:29 AM AEST
Paul, I found your trip reports from last year and found them very interesting and informative. Thanks for pointing me to them. have you done, or have you thought about doing a gear review on the gear you used last year, what worked, what didn't work so well and what you are taking and changing this time. I would be intrested to learn how the Hottronics worked for you and the TopOut mask, as well as your other gear. What items are essential to bring to BC and above and what can you leave at home.
All the best, Scott.
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 3, 2006 06:49 PM AEST
A gear review is a great idea, Scott. Will do it. We are off for a 10 day hike on Wednesday, but I will put some time into this when we get back.
Posted by: Gavin Turner on December 3, 2006 10:34 PM AEST
Thanks for your comments. It is very useful for me to be having this conversation with you - I hope others are finding it equally so.
I agree with your comments about getting in the longer sessions; I think that is almost implicit within any climbing training program. While you don't have to run a marathon to train for one, the more we can replicate the real conditions in our training, the more prepared we will be when we actually get there.
I am currently living in Darjeeling in India, which is at about 2200m. The paths and roads around here are quite steep, so all of my runs turn into a hill workout. I run about five or six days a week, and they vary in length from about 30 to 90 minutes. My longer runs take me up to about 2600m, which I am finding to be an incredible workout. My body is holding up reasonably well to all the running, although I seem to be spending much of my time these days stretching to work out bits of soreness and niggles.
I am fortunate in that part of my job involves leading treks in the Himalayas. Currently, I average about five Himalayan treks a year and I know this is a huge boost to both my aerobic fitness and strength training. I am fortunate to have this situation, for as you pointed out, it can be hard to get in those long training sessions necessary to build up stamina.
Project Himalaya, amongst others, recommend there 8000m climbers to trek in the Himalayas directly before a big climb. They explain that this is partly for acclimatisation, but also because there is no substitute to spending long days hiking up and down steep hills with a heavy pack to prepare for a big climb.
I was interested to read that your fitness was about average amongst other climbers on Everest this spring. Do you think that the three runs you will be adding in each week will significantly help your fitness? It seemed from your postings that your fitness was not a major issue on the mountain this spring, is that correct? Of course the fitter we are, the easier things will be.
Ed Viesturs recommends doing as many chin-ups, in every possible style, as an essential training tactic. Chin-ups, while horribly unpleasant, strengthen countless muscle groups in the upper parts of the body like no other exercise. Ed reminds us that upper body/back strength is so important for stability and control when climbing with a heavy pack on steep terrain, etc. So jump on that bar and start heaving!
Any update on your thoughts for the spring regarding guided/non-guided etc?
Enjoy the hike...nothing like a summer hike in Australia!
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 5, 2006 01:53 PM AEST
You are very lucky to have such close and frequent access to the Himalayas.
The idea of trekking in the mountains before climbing makes some sense, but I wonder if 2 or 3 weeks so soon to the expedition is really going to make a big difference? Also the extra time away from the comforts of home might not be good for some people, me included. An Everest expedition is already so long and it’s important to be patient near the end.
You are right, fitness wasn’t an issue for me this year, however I would like to be fitter. I should clarify that when I said we were average, I am talking about being average in a group of people that are all pretty strong. It’s fair to say the most people who have spent the money to attempt Everest are going to put in the effort to get in the best shape of their lives. For safety if nothing else. I saw first hand the benefits of having good fitness when I ran out of oxygen and this is motivating me to try and improve this year. For me personally I can’t do much more training than I am currently doing, so it’s more a matter of trying to be smarter about it. Last year we over trained a bit around December and January and this was definitely counter productive, so I am trying to do less sessions this year, but make them more effective. Last year we did about 11 sessions a week, whereas this year I am doing 7, although they are more intense and generally longer. I am already feeling better for this. Last year we did no running, so this is something different for me. I don’t think that it’s going to have a huge impact, but I think it might make a small difference
I hadn’t heard that about chin ups, but it makes sense. Ugghh!
I will definitely go un-guided again. I want the flexibility of being able to move up and down the mountain on my schedule, not someone else’s. I will hire a Sherpa to climb with me, though, so I won’t be alone on the mountain at any time. Still looking at the different outtitters (all Nepal based; the usual crowd that I am sure you know) and pestering them with lots of questions.
Posted by: Monette Roberto, Hershey, PA USA on December 11, 2006 09:24 AM AEST
It's wonderful knowing I, my family and friends get to enjoy reading about your exciting adventure on Mt. Everest again this coming Spring. There's a group of us from Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and California wishing you the best of luck and look forward to viewing more wonderful photos. Of course we feel confident that your past experience will help give you the wisdom and the confidence to make your climb to the Summit.
By the way, I probably missed reading prior posts, but.. are you doing this alone? Can you give us an update on Mary and will she and Fiona participate in any of the climb?
Stay well, train hard,
With best regards,
Posted by: Martin McGarvey on December 13, 2006 02:55 AM AEST
Just curious as to why you are not considering using IMG again after you used them last year and got Fiona and almost yourself to the summit?.
Posted by: John & June on December 14, 2006 09:18 AM AEST
Hi Paul & Fiona,
This question is for Fiona. We do a lot of hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. You climbed Mt Washington this summer so you know where we hike. We also know Jim Gagne who climbed Everest with you this spring.
This is a serious question so please don't laugh and I told my wife I would ask you. We do a lot of winter hiking and my wife has an issue she has never been able to resolve so I'm hoping you might be able to help. She has never found the right clothing to make it easy to pee in winter without stripping down to the bare essentials or taking her pack off. Summer is no problem but she doesn't like exposing her butt in the frigid conditions of winter. How did you do it on Everest? If it works on Everest it would work anywhere. Do you have special tights or pants? I know the down suits have a back flap to help but what did you wear on the inside?
Thanks Fiona and we're looking forward to reading about Paul's adventures next spring.
John & June
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 15, 2006 04:22 PM AEST
Thanks for all your support.
Fiona will come into base camp at the start of May to help support me. She doesn't want to go through the icefall again, so she won't go above base camp.
Posted by: Paul Adler on December 15, 2006 05:54 PM AEST
You are right, I am not considering IMG next year.
There were a number of events that occurred on the expedition which caused me and some other members of our team concern. Some of these relate to events that occurred on my first summit attempt, and others that relate to the manner in which several team members were treated, particularly those perceived to be weaker team members. I can’t really detail these here, however it’s a decision I don’t take lightly, given the risks of going with a different company versus one that I know.
One of the factors in my decision is that I don’t like the oxygen system that IMG use. I have done some analysis of it based on published technical data (I am a Civil Engineer), and I have come to the conclusion that Poisk offers a better solution and is the reason why almost everyone else uses it. Two 4 litre Poisk cylinders weigh the same as one IMG cylinder but the two Poisk bottles together contain around 40% more oxygen when compared with a single IMG bottle. 40% more oxygen for the same weight, plus with Poisk you have the safety of having two bottles. IMG’s system does have the benefit that it requires at least one less change on summit day. However, from my experience of sitting at over 28,000’ just below the South Summit with an empty IMG bottle and no spare, I would have given anything to have had a second bottle available to get me down safely. If I was using Poisk, then I would have had this. If it wasn’t for an IMG Sherpa coming down and being able to give me his bottle and be strong enough to go down without, my story could have had a very different ending. This also highlights another important point. You can’t connect a mask that is designed to go onto an IMG regulator into a Poisk regulator. For example this would become an issue if someone was willing to offer you their spare Poisk bottle, but they also needed one for themselves. An IMG regulator will not go onto a Poisk bottle and visa versa. I didn’t actually test this, but if you needed to connect an oxygen hose with a Poisk bayonet fitting to an IMG regulator, you could rip off or cut off the Poisk fitting and connect the hose directly to the nipple on the IMG regulator.
It all adds up to a no for me.
PS. I still don’t know what happened to my oxygen on summit day, however what I do know for sure is that my bottle which should have lasted me 10 hours was completely empty after only 3. Did the bottle or regulator leak? Was the regulator faulty or not screwed on properly? Did I accidentally change to a partial bottle at the Balcony? I will never know, however IMG Sherpas did subsequently tell me that they have seen bottles run out way too fast before on Everest and Cho Oyu. However, out of the more than 30 people who used the IMG oxygen system this year, I was the only person to experience this problem.
It’s interesting to note that one member of our team this year reported a regulator which he couldn’t screw tightly onto any bottles when they tested it at base camp, and in Kevin Flynn’s book,” Mt. Everest: Confessions of a Peak Bagger”, he tells where an IMG Sherpa had to turn around because his oxygen bottle which should have lasted him all the way to the summit and back was empty before he had even got to the Balcony. Perhaps these issues are common with both IMG and Poisk bottles (I only have first hand experience with IMG)? The bottom line is that it’s up to each individual climber to take full and final responsibility for the oxygen system that they will depend upon with their life and this includes testing it yourself and double checking everything that you or someone else does to the system. Even if there was a problem with the equipment; it’s still my responsibility, because I should have checked it more thoroughly before trusting my life with it. For me this year, my responsibility begins with investigating the alternatives and weighing up the pros and cons.
Posted by: Fiona Adler on December 15, 2006 07:35 PM AEST
Hi John and June,
Don't worry, your question is not silly, going to the toilet is a serious issue for us girls! However, the solution does not lie in different clothes, but in a special funnel device which allows girls to urinate like the guys. The first time I really figured out how to deal with this problem was on Everest - prior to this I always dreaded the untimely need to pee, and I think subconsciously this resulted in me not drinking enough (which possibly contributed to getting frostbite when we were climbing in Kazakhstan).
On Everest, it is way too cold and often too dangerous to get out of your tent at night to relieve yourself so everyone uses a "pee bottle". For the girls, this would be extremely difficult were it not for these funnel contraptions. The one I used was a SheWee (www.shewee.com) but I believe there are a couple of similar ones around. I kept this in a zip-lock bag and was able to use the pee bottle at night, and also use it to urinate while standing up (through the fly just like the guys).
It was a bit of mental hurdle to overcome though. At first I liked the idea of it, but couldn't bring myself to use it. But I was given a lot of encouragement by one of the other female climbers. She said she uses it when cycling at home - keeps it in her back pocket so that when they all stop for a quick break, she just whips it out and goes to the toilet with the guys. After hearing this I was determined to master it - and I'm glad I did. I never quite got up to writing my name in the snow, but I was getting there!
Hopefully something like this will help you too!
Best of luck,
Posted by: Martin McGarvey on December 17, 2006 05:28 AM AEST
Thankyou for your answer to my question. The reason I ask is that I am trying to work out who I will go to Everest with in 2008 and with this in mind welcome your experiences. I summitted Cho Oyu from Camp 2 this autumn and used 1x Poisk bottle with Top out mask all the way to the summit. I was on 2l/minute and it hadn't ran out after 8 hours. I would recommend this system. Yes there is cases when Poisk has failed but, in my experiences the majority use it without problem.
Best of luck with your climb next year.