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Mount Everest The British Story

Mount Everest News


Mount Everest Artist

A Cumbrian is swapping battlefields for Base Camp as he plans to be Mount Everest’s artist-in-residence.

Derek Eland will spend the next climbing season documenting the people trying to reach the world’s highest peak.

Mr Eland, from Carlisle, previously spent time with British forces in Afghanistan as a war artist.

He said he wanted to explore what it was like to “be human in a different and difficult place”.

Mr Eland will fly to Nepal on 1 April next year and will spend about six weeks on the mountain.

He told BBC Cumbria: “I’ve always had an incredibly strong love of the mountains – I am a Cumbrian – and I know Cumbria’s climbing links to Everest and Nepal are incredibly strong.

“It’s the combination of those loves that led me to think Everest Base Camp is an exciting place. It’s been explored by climbers but perhaps not by an artist.

“My plan to is stay at Base Camp until everyone is off the mountain.”

Mr Eland said next year would be an important one for Everest after the earthquakes which killed at least 19 people on Everest and thousands in Nepal in April.

He said: “This year is the first year in 30 years that no-one climbed Everest, so next year will be a big year.”


Virtual Reality Everest Climb

Want to get a taste of what it’s like to climb Mount Everest without the risk of dying in the process? High-res photography and virtual reality will soon make it possible.

Iceland-based Sólfar Studios is teasing a virtual reality experience they’re building called EVEREST VR. Created with RVX, the studio that helped with VFX in Hollywood movies such as “Gravity” and “Everest,” EVEREST VR is being touted as the most realistic Everest climbing experience that most of us will experience short of actually making the climb.

The studios created an ultra-realistic “definitive” 3D model of Mount Everest using over 300,000 high-resolution photographs of the famous mountain. Wearing an immersive VR headset, virtual climbers will feel like they’re actually standing and moving through the locations.

Here’s a first-look teaser video that offers a taste of what it will be like:

“The premise of EVEREST VR is simple,” writes Sólfar. “Preparing for your expedition at Basecamp, you will traverse the Khumbu Icefalls, scale Lhotse Face, ascend the Hillary Step, and finally conquer the summit of Everest. You will learn to respect the mountain, you may even survive the encounter. You will leave the experience feeling like you were there. ”

EVEREST VR is expected to land on virtual reality platforms sometime in 2016.


Superhuman Sherpas

Mount Everest is the ultimate test for adventurers trying to test their boundaries, but when it comes to climbing this natural monument, one group of people excel — Sherpas.

The Sherpa people are an ethnic group from Nepal who have lived in the high altitudes of the Himalayas for generations. They have long served as guides and porters, whose local expertise has been invaluable for foreigners attempting climbs in the area.

But while they are admired for the ease with which they deal with the physical challenges of scaling some of the world’s biggest peaks, the biological reasons for their mountain-climbing prowess have remained unknown — until now.

Denny Levett is a founding member of Xtreme Everest and a consultant in clinical care at University Hospital Southampton, England. In 2013 she took part in Xtreme Everest 2 — a scientific expedition to the top of Everest — which explored the biology behind human endurance at high altitude.

She still recalls the exploits of one particular Sherpa who was part of the expedition.

“He came down 2,000 meters [from the top] in just two hours, when it took our team the best part of a day,” said Levett. “He even stopped for a cup of tea on the way down.”

High altitude challenges

Surviving a journey up Everest comes down to overcoming one key problem — the atmosphere at high altitude. Oxygen levels at its summit are one third of those found at sea level and according to Levett, fewer than 6% of humans are capable of making the climb without supplementary oxygen.

Altitude sickness can strike as low as a few thousand meters, and the human body must adapt as greater heights are reached.

“If you go straight up to 3,500 meters, the next morning you’ll feel like you have the flu or a hangover,” said Levett.

The same is not true of Sherpas.

After centuries living at high altitude, the Sherpa population of the Himalayas have evolved to master the ability to survive in this atmosphere. “You’ll see that they’re completely unaffected,” said Levett.

In 2013, Levett and colleagues set off with 180 volunteers — 116 from lowland locations and 64 Sherpas — to Everest base camp. Before, and during, the 5,300 meter climb, volunteers were exposed to a range of physical and biological tests to identify differences in their physiology.

Making use of oxygen

Presenting her findings at the World Extreme Medicine Expo in London, last month, Levett identified differences in the parts of human cells that respire to generate energy — known as mitochondria. The Sherpas’ mitochondria were much more efficient at using oxygen.

“They’re like a fuel-efficient car,” said Levett. “You get more energy for less oxygen.”

In addition, the team studied blood vessels under the tongue and other locations in the body, to monitor blood circulation within the organs — known as the microcirculation. This form of blood circulation occurs in the smallest blood vessels and determines how well oxygen reaches muscles, tissues and organs — so how well your body actually functions.

At high altitude, the blood flow within these small blood vessels was found to slow down in the non-Sherpa volunteers, but remained normal in Sherpas.

“This higher speed at which the blood can flow around allows you to deliver more oxygen to the tissues more quickly,” explained Chris Imray, professor of Vascular and Renal transplant surgery at University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire, UK, who accompanied Levett on an expedition up Everest in 2007.

Levett said this is the first time physiological differences have been identified to explain Sherpas’ apparent superhuman abilities at high altitudes.

Other studies have examined genetic differences, and this is what Levett’s team will investigate next.
From mountains to bedsides

The goal of the research was to discover new ways to help people survive in situations where oxygen is limited — in any environment, including hospital. Falling oxygen levels at high altitudes are similar to the fall in levels experienced by patients with critical illnesses. “This [insight] can be used to help patients,” said Levett.

By identifying the genetic and physiological differences improving survival, the researchers hope to develop new treatments or therapies for patients who are critically ill.

“Extreme research can be used to benefit everyday care,” added Imray, whose research focuses on the increase of blood in the brain at higher altitudes — caused by low oxygen — which can lead to swelling as blood fails to drain out as fast as it goes in.

“Understanding this can be used to help us manage head injuries as some of the techniques relevant at altitude might be relevant in a head injury patient,” said Imray.

It may be that the Sherpas’ remarkable physiology holds benefits for mankind far beyond the slopes of Everest.


Benefits given to Everest Climbers

Haryana government has ordered a probe into the discriminatory award of jobs and cash prizes to those who climbed world’s highest peak Mount Everest in the previous Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government.

Confirming it, sports and youth affairs minister Anil Vij said chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had also given his approval in that regard.

He said the decision was taken in view of the complaints received by some mountaineers regarding discrimination meted out to them by the previous government. Vij said many mountaineers, who had scaled the peak from 2005 to 2013, had complained in that regard. During that period, 17 mountaineers from Haryana had climbed Everest, out of which many were given lucrative cash awards along with government job, whereas others participants were not extended such benefits.

While giving details of the award money to mountaineers in the previous Congress government, Vij said that of the successful climbers, two were given Rs 1 lakh each, one was given Rs 3 lakh, five got Rs 5 lakh each, one received Rs 7.5 lakh, one got Rs 8 lakh and one summiteer was awarded Rs 21 lakh. Not only that, government jobs were given to eight mountaineers, of which one was given the post of deputy superintendent of police, three were made sub-inspectors and one was appointed as constable in the police department. Two mountaineers got jobs in the Indian Air Force, one in the Army and remaining nine were not given any job.