From: Everest OnOrbit
Posted: Friday, May 16, 2008
This is Scott calling in from [garbled].
It's May 16th and I head out towards the summit.
We'll be getting our gear on around 3:30 a.m. tomorrow morning and over the next several days working our way up successively ... to hopefully Camp 4 on ...
If all goes well around 6 or 7 in the morning on the 22nd we'll be standing on top.
The fourth day of the expedition right now. It's been the most physically difficult thing I've ever done, to climb up to 24,000 feet so far.
On a shuttle trip it's an 8 minute ride to get to the perspective that I hope to experience on the summit.
So, definitely a very difficult, but very rewarding experience to be here on the mountain.
And I look forward to sharing more of it with you when we get back to Houston. Talk to you later.
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!
This is Scott again. This'll be my last entry until I get back from the summit of the mountain, hopefully here in a few days. But just want to comment on the real expeditionary nature of being here in the wilds for now 54 days and counting.
This really is a way station up... towards the summit of Mt. Everest just like the International Space Station is for places beyond Earth orbit. Days are long and its time away from family, which can be very difficult. Fortunately communications are better these days and we can call our families and, at least from station, have access to news and some of the creature comforts of home. It hasn't been so easy here on Everest this season just because of some of the communications issues we had.
But I'll tell you one of the great highlights of my stay here was the [garbled] folks led by Sabrina Singh who's one of our EVA Flight Controllers. Came in earlier this month bringing cards and letters and a care package from home and friends from the Astronaut Office. It was just a wonderful thing. It felt very much like what I imagine a shuttle visiting crew feels like to an ISS expedition who's been up there for several months. Bye.
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