Dear Family & Friends,
Human beings aren’t really supposed to live above 5000m; the highest village in the Everest National Park to be permanently inhabited is Dingpoche @ around 4300m. This altitude is close to the ceiling for growing crops and keeping livestock (and a pretty cold place to hang out in winter!)
On the summit of Everest @ 8850m there’s only one third and at Everest BC @ 5350m only about half of the oxygen available compared to sea level.
It is however possible to live and function at these extreme altitudes for short periods when your body is properly acclimatised.
This process takes time and helps explain why an Everest expedition can take up to 8+ weeks (weather is another factor).
As your body acclimatises/adjusts to the altitude one of the main physiological changes is the increased production of red blood cells; there’s less oxygen available so the body needs more red blood cells to carry around what little oxygen is there.
The acclimatisation process begins on the approach walk and is it important to let your body adjust slowly with plenty of rest days; in our case Namche, Dingpoche and Lobuche.
The process continues on Everest while we establish our 4 camps; this involves doing load carries (food, stoves, fuel, tents, oxygen cylinders and personal equipment) between EBC to C1, C1 to C2, C2 to C3 and finally C3 to C4. This cannot be done in one go and several days are spent resting in BC in between ferrying loads to and sleeping at the various camps, slowly making our way higher.
Once we’ve done our final rotation, been to C4 on the South Col with a load carry, we return to BC to rest and eat while we wait for a stable weather window and our shot at the summit.
Matt & Soren