Dom’s Everest adventure has begun. The dream is about to become a reality and it’s both exciting and terrifying in equal measures. A lot of people think climbing Everest is like taking a walk in the park, let me dispel that myth and acquaint you with some of the facts.
- Mount Everest is 29,029ft (8,848m) high. This is based on a 1954 ground-based measurement. A disputed satellite-based measurement in 1999 suggested it was six feet taller.
- No one knew it was the tallest mountain until 1856, when the Great Trigonometric Survey of India established its height.
- In 1865 it was renamed in honour of the Surveyor General of India George Everest, from its original name of Peak 15.
- Geologically speaking, it is about 60 million years old.
- It started life as a sea bed and fossils of sea creatures can be found in the rocks at the summit.
- It grows about 4mm higher every year due to geologic uplift.
- The summit is just below the cruising height of a jet (around 31,000ft).
- The Nepalese call it Sagarmatha, meaning ‘Goddess of the Sky’. In Tibet it is known as Chomolungma, ‘Mother Goddess of the Universe’.
- There are two main routes to the summit: the south-east ridge from Nepal and the north ridge from Tibet. Dom is taking the north ridge.
- The only climber to scale all four sides of Everest is Kushang Sherpa, an instructor with the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute.
- It will take approximately two months to climb.
- Dom will spend two weeks of that time waiting for the perfect opportunity to summit.
- More than 33,000 feet of fixed rope is used every year to set the South Col route.
- Climbers burn 20,000 calories on the day of the summit climb, and an average of 10,000 a day on the rest of the climb. (Running a marathon burn 2,600 calories).
- Climbers can suffer acute altitude sickness as well as frost bite and hypothermia.
- Temperatures on the mountain range from -60C to +38C, (-76F to 100F).
- Winds on the mountain have been recorded at more than 200mph.
- At its highest point, you are breathing in a third of the amount of oxygen you would normally breathe due to the atmospheric pressure.
- Climbers start using bottled oxygen at 26,000ft. Dom will need 6 oxygen bottles at a cost of £500 each.
- The highest 848 metres of the mountain are known as “the death zone”.
- Climbing lasts for two seasons, winter and spring. The rest of the year the mountain is left alone.
- The summit is in the path of the jet stream for most of the year, so there is a limited window of opportunity to reach the summit.
- Dom will walk the equivalent of Snowdon every day, but with a lack of oxygen, more snow and more kit.
- He will stay at 6 camps over the two month climb. This in essence means he will climb to each of them, then return back down the mountain and back up again repeatedly to acclimatise before the final push to the summit.
A Matter of Life and Death
- One in 10 successful climbs to the summit ends in death.
- Since the first recorded deaths in 1922, approximately 235 people are believed to have died on the mountain.
- There is estimated to be 120 dead bodies still on the mountain.
- 1993 was the safest year on Everest, when 129 summitted and 8 died (a ratio of 16:1).
- The deadliest year for climbers of Everest was 1996, when 15 died.
- On 10 May 1993, 40 climbers reached the top, the most in any one day.
- Avalanches are the foremost cause of death, followed by falls.
- Khumbu ice fall is the most dangerous area on the mountain, which is thought to have claimed 19 lives (this is on the Nepalese side).
- 1924. Britons George Mallory, 37 and Andrew Irvine, 22, disappeared on Everest. Whether they reached the summit still remains a mystery.
- 1953. New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay are the first to summit. Norgay had six unsuccessful attempts before reaching it with Hillary.
- 1975. Junko Tabei from Japan becomes the first woman to climb Everest.
- 1978. Italian Reinhold Messner and Austrian Peter Habeler are the first climbers to summit without oxygen.
- 1980. Italian Reinhold Messner makes the first successful solo climb.
- 1999. Mallory’s body was found at 27,000ft.
- 1999. Sherpa Babu Chiri remains at the summit for the longest single period: 21.5 hours.
- 2001. American Erik Weihenmayer becomes the first blind person to summit.
- 2005. Pem Dorjee and Moni Mulepati from Nepal become the first couple to be married at the summit.
- 2006. New Zealander Mark Inglis becomes the first double amputee to reach the summit. During the ascent he broke one of his prosthetic legs. Adhesive tape temporarily repaired it while a spare was brought up from base camp.
- 2006. Australian Christian Stangl holds the record for the fastest ascent. He reached the summit from Camp III without oxygen in 16 hours 42 minutes. The descent took six hours, 48 minutes.
- 2010. American Jordan Romero becomes the youngest person to summit, aged 13.
- 2012. Japanese Tamae Watanabe becomes the oldest woman to summit, aged 73.
- 2013. Yuichiro Miura, also Japanese, becomes the oldest person to climb Everest at the age of 80. He previously climbed it aged 70 and 75 despite undergoing heart surgery.
- 2011. 53-year-old Apa Sherpa sets the record for the most summits, he has summitted 21 times.
- 2018. Apart from the guides (and Dom), we know of four other Brits who are set to climb during the spring season; these include TV presenter Ben Fogle and Olympian Victoria Pendleton.
Doing it in Style
- 1988. Frenchman Jean-Marc Boivin paraglided down. His fastest descent was made in 11 minutes.
- 2000. Slovenian Davo Karnicar was the first person to ski down it, taking just over 5 hours.
Diet, Fitness and Training
- Dom’s Everest training started 18 months ago.
- He walks for 2 hours a night, 5 times a week, carrying a 25kg (55lbs) rucksack.
- He must look very odd with his rucksack on. He stops one poor dog in his tracks every time he’s out, the owner explained that his dog “doesn’t know what you are.”
- He regularly posts videos of his progress, one was entitled ‘Concur Your Fears’ (instead of Conquer Your Fears).
- He rows 2-3 times a week for 30 mins and plays indoor hockey twice a week to increase his cardio.
- He recently started taking 20 mile walks.
- On the mountain his resting heart rate will range from 90-120 bpm (at sea level it is 51bpm).
- He is taking 6kgs (13lbs) of chocolate for the extra energy required. Our cupboard is full of chocolate as he experiments with the best snack bar to take. It’s a scientific experiment, one of each has gone into the freezer to see how how well it can be eaten frozen. He’s measuring the results by the highest number of calories times the lowest in actual weight. It’s playing havoc with my waistline!
- For 6-7 weeks he’ll be eating dried food, cooked on a gas stove to melt the snow.
- Sunburn on the top of the inside of his mouth and the fulcrum of his nose makes eating extremely painful.
- He is carrying extra body weight to counterbalance the 12.5 kgs (28lbs) in weight he’s anticipated to lose.
- He’s taking 50kgs (110lbs) of kit which costs approx £5-6,000.
- And all the while you’re wondering how does a climber go to the loo? I’ll leave it to your imagination, but there’s a very good reason why a climber has two water bottles; just don’t take a drink from the one with tape around it!
To qualify for the climb, climbers must have completed many courses and climbs, culminating in one of 14 mountains, all over 8,000 metres (26,247 feet), except Denali which is considered equal to this height as it is so technically difficult and the weather so extreme.
Dom’s previous climbs have included Denali, Mera Peak, the Everest trails including Ama Dablam and Everest base camp, Kilimanjaro and lots of winter weekends in Scotland.
Dom is raising money for the Thames Valley Air Ambulance, his donation page can be found here. He has received two lovely video messages from Brian Blessed and Kim Wilde, as well as personalised messages from celebrities including Rod Stewart and Michael Palin wishing him luck. To promote this worthy cause he’s been interviewed for our community and local newspapers, as well as local radio. On one interview with BBC Radio Berkshire the presenter asked him:
“Is it the biggest mountain you’ve ever climbed?”
“Well, it is the highest in the world” he replied.
And to think, he’s scared of heights!
Which fact has astonished you the most today?
Source material courtesy of: Kathryn Bromwich The Independent 25 May 2013