On the day I arrived the group that had gotten here the day before had done most of the equipment set-up. They emptied all the pelican boxes and barrels and started hooking up the computers and other equipment. Final tally on the equipment was 2.6 tonnes! We don’t mess around! This gave me the luxury of not having to go through a lot of the troubleshooting associated with set-up. So yesterday Nia and I were able to jump into testing. We were able to get through 5 subjects and 1 Sherpa Our guide Nima, has also volunteered to participate in almost all the studies and to recruit more Sherpa subjects for us (maybe I’m breaking some confidentiality rules here, but this is how things happen at 5,00 m). Nima is a true outdoors guy. He told us today that he did well in school, always second in his class, except once, when he cried, as did the girl whom usually came first! But he didn’t really like school and wanted to be in the mountains. He is very inquisitive, but at the same time a little unsure of the science… it’s interesting to work with another culture doing some of the things we take for granted like palpating certain areas, taking off our shirts/shorts, drawing blood, etc. They are very accommodating and never complain, so I wonder if they are uncomfortable or feel any of the side effects of the studies and just don’t feel as though they should tell us. I look forward to more conversations with Nima and the other Sherpas about their lives and how things have changed with more and more western influences (for example, internet and cellular phones at 5,000 m).
We had a nice dinner with the whole group of us, finished off some studies and then went to bed relatively early.
I woke up the next day with a minor headache (not bad considering the altitude), had to get my neck blood vessels scanned and then headed down for breakfast. Today it was porridge, toast and boiled eggs. I think there was meant to be more, but the ingredients didn’t get carried up in time! Interesting way to run a kitchen- it depends on what arrives (you may want to make pancakes, but if the flour doesn’t come, you have to make due). We also found out the night before that the cook has been here for 15 years and is the best around!
Nia and I headed back up to the top lab and started testing again. We were at it by 9:00 and got through another 4 subjects and 2 Sherpas. The lab got up to 32 degrees just before lunch and then quite a bit colder in the late afternoon. We’re still getting snow every night, which is a bit strange for this time of year. We’ve heard that no one has made it higher than camp 2 on Everest yet (camp 3 is built and some fixed lines are run, but no one is getting up high). The weather is bad and there is a large rock-fall danger, so people are running out of time as the season usually ends in early June.
I know a tonne more stuff was happening in the lower 2 labs. One study got finished, the set-up for the sleep studies was completed and the first subjects went through and are now up in the Pyramid getting ready to sleep. Some other ventilatory response tests got going and the bike got built. So a big day for us here. We finished the night off with a minestrone soup and a mushroom risotto! So much for the Nepali weight loss plan!
Tomorrow brings on the maximal exercise tests and more testing with Nia. We hope to get through the last of our subjects and get another 2 or 3 Sherpas through. That will be the end of Nia’s study for a few weeks (unless we can get some more Sherpas in) and I’ll start contributing to some more of the ventilatory response tests.
I’ll try to add some pictures over the next few days, but it’s been tough to find the time to sit at the computer to try to upload photos. However, if you want to see some of my photos you can check out the following:
or on the Daily Planet