Everest Expedition Update May 16, 2008, Part 2

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Everest Expedition Update May 16, 2008, Part 2
05.16.08
 
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Hi again, this is Scott. Just wanted to make a few comments about the tools that are required to scale a mountain as it compared with going outside on a spacewalk. It’s actually quite similar, in many regards… We’re at great heights, of course gravity affects us in space a little bit differently as we’re in a free fall around the earth but here on Mt. Everest if you’re to slip and fall, it could mean a long ride, of several thousand feet…with a pretty bad outcome. So we tether ourselves directly to the mountain, typically using fixed lines. We have a little carabiner that we’ll grab onto a fixed line as we ascend or descend the mountain. Sometimes we use a specialized tool, called a jumar, or an ascender, that cams on to the… and so we can scale very steep slopes and then periodically take breaks. The little cam will grab onto the rope and let’s us take a breather.

And I think as I get higher and higher on the mountain that’s going to be more important to do that. We use ice axes also to help us scale the mountain and use crampons on our boots to dig into the very hard blue ice that is on the Lhotse Face and other parts of the mountain.

So it’s a very committing environment when you go outside here on Mt. Everest. In fact I liken going out of the vestibule of my tent as very similar to going outside of the ISS airlock hatch…. You’re wearing a big insulated suit, you have oxygen tank on your back, goggles, every square inch of your body is covered with insulation to keep you warm, and of course you need that oxygen to keep you healthy as you go to these enormous altitudes. Also we wear very protective gloves and mittens, the temperatures can be extremely cold, you know, with a wind-chill down to -50 or -60 degrees. In space the temperatures can get to, you know, -150 or even -200.

Fortunately, it won’t be that cold for me on summit day, but definitely something to think about as I head up to the summit in a few days.

Hope all is well back in Houston, and we’ll talk to you soon!

Scott

 
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