High altitude first aid & oxygen testrun … and a belated birthday cake for Jon

High altitude first aid & meds


Prior to sending us into the death zone (8,000m+) Tim sat down with us to go trough key high altitude medication and how to deliver it. For that, he fitted all climbers out with a first aid box. 


Whats in the box?

In the box you find meds to treat everything from a pain to the various forms of high altitude sickness (HACE/HAPE) and nausea (that for some patients could prevent the delivery of life saving meds). All meds are nicely labelled and a short use despription added.


Two rules rule that I think is worth remembering:

  1. It is that it’s better to give all meds than none. The former won’t kill the patient, the latter might. 
  2. Always turn up the O’s first to max flow (4/6l) – don’t use yor own first, but the patient’s or spare from sherpa.

Also important to be aware is that most likely emergency and rescue folks (ER) will be involved via radio and advise climbers step by step. 
The most contentious med for me is certainly the dex injection. It is injected directly into muscle fibre (best upper thigh) and as a strong steriod should awaken the most exhausted and HAce plagued climber enabling him to decent. 

We teated administering dex to a mandarine (similar texture). Important is keep hands together when filling dex into needle, remove down suit before injecting and pull back after sticking needle in to see if any blood vessels had been hit (ideally not). 


Lets hope our kits remain unused. 

Climbing (&sleeping) with oxygen

Oxygen use comes into play from camp 3. There we will sleep on O’s and climb to camp 4 / summitt with additional oxyen. 

We will be using 4l and c3.5kg bottles with 1000l Uncompressed oxygen. Each climber has 3 bottles plus two for the summit sherpa. Condensation level of the  O2 we carry is  -85 degrees (vs some -30) and hence should not freeze. For simplicity and to have a buffer, we assume 12h per bottle at 1l flow rate (16h really). 


At night, we sleep on 0.5l flow rate each and climbing is done at 2l for Everest guys. I will probably go for 2.5l given its there and my summit day is much shorter. More O = more power and less cold. Good. Using 12h per bottle (1l flow rate) that means 3 bottles at 2.5l give me 15h climbing time on summit day for c600m altitude. Always check the flow barometer.

The masks we are using are based on tornado pilots (compromised ability to communicate). They fit well with my mammut helmet and julbo goggles. Just the balaclava leaves a tiny gap each side of my cheeks. Every 15min it is advisable to clear the jacket’s zip due to condensation drip. 

We rounded up the day with a belated, yet very impressive birthday cake for Jon. He turned 25 while we camped at camp 1. Great job kitchen!

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