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  Everest 2007: Mountaineering doctors hike medicine to new heights with Xtreme Everest


©EverestNews.com

Doctors working at the edge of extreme are set to climb the world’s tallest mountain to look death in the face – and take its pulse. The medical research team will make the first ever measurements of blood oxygen in the ‘death zone’, at altitudes above 8,000 metres where the human body has struggled - and frequently failed - to survive.

The Centre for Aviation, Space and Extreme Environment Medicine (CASE) team, based at University College London (UCL), will lead the expedition to Mount Everest’s 8,850m peak in 2007. At the summit, clinicians will measure the amount of oxygen in their own blood along with running tests to see how well their brains, lungs and metabolisms are working at extreme altitude. The experiments alone entail a risk of thrombosis and other complications; combined with the harsh mountain conditions, only the toughest are likely to finish the job.

The summiting team, all of whom work with anaesthesia, intensive care or remote medicine, hope to draw parallels between the human body pushed to its limits during critical illness and changes that occur in extreme environments. Low levels of oxygen in the blood of high altitude climbers is similar to levels in critically ill patients on breathing machines with severe heart and lung conditions, “blue babies” and cystic fibrosis sufferers.

The summiteers will also test a prototype closed-circuit breathing system. This type of circuit has only once previously - and unsuccessfully - been used by climbers attempting the summit. The equipment, adapted from firefighters’ apparatus, will be redesigned to cope with icy conditions.

Overall, the Xtreme Everest expedition will consist of research teams exploring the following science themes: Hypoxia (oxygen deficiency); Brain; Breathing Systems and Genetics. High altitude laboratories set up en route, including one on Everest's South Col (8,000m), will enable collaborating scientists to investigate many aspects of extreme altitude physiology including illnesses such as fluid on the brain and lungs and acute mountain sickness. The genetics project will track and compare the genetic profile of high altitude natives, lowlanders and summiteers to identify genes that aid survival in extreme altitudes.

A separate initiative called Project Everest will recruit over 1000 volunteers to take part in cardiovascular fitness research at UCL in the run up to the expedition. Participants will undergo Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing (CPEX) which will measure their heart rate and breathing to determine their maximum exercise potential and endurance, which can then be used to tailor fitness training programmes.

CASE director and expedition leader Dr Mike Grocott says: “If you reached the top of Everest without acclimatizing you would be unconscious within two minutes, and death would follow rapidly. Acclimatization has allowed human beings to survive and thrive in the most extreme conditions, but it remains a poorly understood process. Our goal is to study life at the very limit.”

The core climbing group of seven, two of whom have yet to be recruited, include cardiovascular geneticist Dr Hugh Montgomery, GP Dr Sundeep Dhillon, high altitude clinician Dr Mike Grocott, clinician Dr Roger McMorrow and diving expert Dr Denny Levett. Space expert Dr Kevin Fong along with Dr Levett will act as medics for the expedition teams.

Dr Dhillon is the only participant who has experience of climbing above 8,000m. The others will test their aptitude along with the equipment in two dry runs to Cho Oyu (8,201m) scheduled for the autumns of 2005 and 2006.

For the big push, the expedition plans to set off in the spring of 2007 before the monsoon season, with a ‘window in the weather’ of only a few days when conditions are good enough to attempt the summit. Along with the usual climbing dangers of rockfalls and avalanches, the group will be risking medical complications such as high altitude illness, frostbite, hypothermia and brain damage.

Millet One Sport Everest Boot  has made some minor changes by adding more Kevlar. USES Expeditions / High altitude / Mountaineering in extremely cold conditions / Isothermal to -75°F Gore-Tex® Top dry / Evazote Reinforcements with aramid threads. Avg. Weight: 5 lbs 13 oz Sizes: 5 - 14 DESCRIPTION Boot with semi-rigid shell and built-in Gore-Tex® gaiter reinforced by aramid threads, and removable inner slipper Automatic crampon attachment Non-compressive fastening Double zip, so easier to put on Microcellular midsole to increase insulation Removable inner slipper in aluminized alveolate Fiberglass and carbon footbed Cordura + Evazote upper Elasticated collar.

Expedition footwear for mountaineering in conditions of extreme cold.  NOTE US SIZES LISTED. See more here.

A cold weather, high altitude double boot for extreme conditions The Olympus Mons is the perfect choice for 8000-meter peaks. This super lightweight double boot has a PE thermal insulating inner boot that is coupled with a thermo-reflective outer boot with an integrated gaiter. We used a super insulating lightweight PE outsole to keep the weight down and the TPU midsole is excellent for crampon compatibility and stability on steep terrain. WEIGHT: 39.86 oz • 1130 g LAST: Olympus Mons CONSTRUCTION: Inner: Slip lasted Outer: Board Lasted OUTER BOOT: Cordura® upper lined with dual-density PE micro-cellular thermal insulating closed cell foam and thermo-reflective aluminium facing/ Insulated removable footbed/ Vibram® rubber rand See more here.

 






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