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Archive for March 2011

Acclimation for high altitude

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Wednesday–March 30

Okay. We’re gearing up for a hike, one that will help our bodies acclimate to the thinner air that comes with high-altitude mountaineering.  In a nutshell,  acclimatization is the body’s way of adjusting to the decreased amount of oxygen.  The process can take days.

Age, overall physical condition, mental preparedness and other factors contribute (or hinder) one’s ability to adjust. I’m told if you’re born and live at a high altitude that this helps. There’s a good reason why these Sherpas do so well in this environment: their bodies have been here since day one!

A few things I’ve learned in doing these adventures is that you must stay hydrated and avoid overexertion.  You need to take your time and to be well aware of high-altitude symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue, decreased appetite, nausea among others.  Some climbers can experience a few, others more.  Like many activities, mountaineering has a bunch of sayings and truisms.  One that comes to mind right now is climb high, sleep low.  If for example you happen to reach, say, 7,500 feet, then climb down to sleep at 7,000 feet or lower.

If you need more detailed information, click here and read up on the range of high-altitude concerns and ailments that can make or break these excursions. More to come….

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Written by mmsummits7

March 31, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

#1 Extreme Airport

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Tuesday–March 29

Before I address the title of this entry, let me give you a communications update. Though today was relatively quiet, I spent a good portion of today trying to get my cell phone to work.  As a test,  I tried calling the office, but given the time difference, I also didn’t want to wake up anyone in the middle of the night with my “Can you hear me now?” question. Im sure the reply is something I wouldn’t be able to include in this blog. My afternoon here is essentially the very early morning of the same day in your part of the world.

As it turns out, the cell phone does work and has all along though for some crazy reason, the number at the office does NOT work if dialed from a cell phone in Nepal.  It just disconnects.  Go figure!  It’s just very strange.

We had our big “Welcome to Nepal” dinner for all the Mt. Everest climbers and base camp trekkers for this season with IMG.  The class is complete! I’m now just about ready to call it a night.  Breakfast is at 4:30 am, then out of the hotel to catch our 5:15am flight to Lukla.  From there,  we begin our 10 to 12 day trek to base camp at 5,300 meters or 17,388 feet.

Lukla has been readily refered to as  “the most extreme airport in the world.”  The runway is at an unheard of 12-degree angle, it’s short with a cliff face as an end point. Oh, did I tell you that there are buildings to one side, practically next to the runway?  Some buildings are also positioned at the end of the runway though I think they may be safe since they’re about 50-feet up the face of that cliff(!).  To make it even more exciting, the high altitude cuts the plane’s horsepower. Basically, it’s a one shot deal.  That runway is a mind-boggling 350 meters (short!) in length.  That’s a paltry 1,148 feet give or take a sneeze!

It’s easier if you take a ride to see what I’m talking about. Click here and you’ll see a clip taken by a team member from the 2009 Everest expedtion.  Enjoy the ride!

Written by mmsummits7

March 29, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

Outside Magazine & Ms. Hawley

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Monday–March 28

Things are taking shape as the team begins to arrive.  While at breakfast this morning, I ran into my guides; shortly thereafter, I met with Liz Hawley. Can’t blame you if you’re not familiar with the name, but Ms. Hawley has interviewed every summitteer going back to the early 1960s. It’s been said that you haven’t climbed Everest unless Liz Hawley says you’ve climbed Everest.  Outside Magazine recently did a great article on her (which she claims was  “mostly right” by the way). Click on Outside Magazine and the article will open in a new window for you.

IMG is also updating their website. Their coverage may well be more reliable than mine will be on the mountain and certainly more timely come summit day. Having breakfast with guides Greg and Justin, they mentioned to track their site as others, like you reading this, may want to get additional details on our climb. There should be photos of them getting our permits.

We did gear checks (safety, safety, safety) and then spent the rest of the day meeting and greeting other team members…

Musicians just assembled here and we’re all ready for the tunes and an evening of traditional bonding: raise a glass or two and drink some beer!  Yeah! We got all updated on our lives; it was a good way to find common connections seeing we will be spending the next 8 weeks or so very close together. Some of those scenarios can be potentially precarious, we know. I’m amazed and encouraged at the ease of our conversations and how they flow, a lot of it being open or candid. I’m sure that some raw emotions will also perk up between us. On this kind of journey, we all expect it.

There’s a code among mountaineers and it’s one that’s been sorta hijacked by the tourism experts and that code is,  What happens on the mountain, stays on the mountain, thus our lock down will be much tighter than anything that could possibly happen in Vegas! Too bad you won’t be getting any of those details here….heh-heh…

Written by mmsummits7

March 28, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

Namaste!

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Sunday–March 27

Namaste is a Nepali greeting, which in Hindi translates to, “I salute the god within you (Thanks, Jackie!) or “let there be a salutation to you.” I had lunch today with Dr. Buddha Basnyat, a friend of Paul Friedmann, MD. Dr. Friedmann is a surgeon in Springfield, MA but is also a lecturer, often teaching at Tufts Medical School. Many of you probably recall his wife Janee Friedmann. She was a wonderful, tireless person who was integral to fundraising for many institutions in Springfield and the surrounding area.

Dr. Basnyat was fascinating to chat with and is very involved with high-altitude mountaineering, Himalayan rescues and the care for those with HACE (high altitude cerebral edema) and HAPE (high altitude pulmonary edema). We talked about the various drugs used by mountaineers in order to deal with the demands of altitude, like Diamox, Nifedipine and Dex.  In a nutshell, the circulatory system becomes constricted and/or body pH levels fall out of synch and the drugs seem to help in various ways. We also talked about the latest drug that’s being used: Viagra! It’s not listed for use as a high-altitude med, but there’s some evidence of its efficacy (note: my doctor did not give any to me, which is just as well I suppose).

Now that I know the greeting, namaste, I’ve added dhanyabaad to my growing vocab. It means “thank you.” For everything else, I point, use broken english, my own recollection of spanish or any combinations thereof.  In my travels, I’ve found it important to know how to say “hello” and “thank you” and I suspect this applies to all cultures. People here really show their appreciation of you when you try to speak a little of their language, instead of assuming that they will speak yours. Though my parents and grandparents weren’t world travellers, they taught me a simple, but absolute rule: be kind and respectful to other people. Different cultures does not mean entirely different people because we’re just trying to get along, get by, raise families and get through life. More common details there instead of differences. It’s also good to have a little fun while we’re all trying to get on with our lives.

Speaking of fun, travelling can be that but it can monotonous at times. Either way, I try to be immersed in the “here and now” and enjoy it for what it is. Carlo Centeno, whom I work with (nobody works for me, all work with me…it’s a 2-way street!) is helping me with this blog  (thanks, Carlo!!). Being our marketing guy, he likened me to the Dos Equis advertising of “the most interesting man in the world.” The character/spokesperson just happens to live vicarioulsy through himself (how else would he consider himself interesting??). Well, I don’t think the Dos Equis guy appreciates the bouts of uninteresting things which occur with this kind of travel.

Dos Equis..."the most interesting man in the world."

For instance, I’m sitting in this hotel and the electricty is out….again for the umpteenth time today.  This happens frequently. The generator for the building next door has fired up and sits not too far from my window. It’s noisy and appears to be designed to vent its diesel fumes into my room.  Then again, this is the same room that had a monkey alseep on my window ledge yesterday. From this same window, I see the prayer flags strung out over and across the plaza below. The flags are, after all, a part of this journey to climbing Mt. Everest….the biggest, tallest damn mountain on our planet.

Anyway, as the great blues artist Willie Dixon song goes,  “I live the life and I love the life I live…”

Namaste and dhanyabaad

Written by mmsummits7

March 28, 2011 at 1:35 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

The Miguel has landed!

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Saturday–March 28

Departed Qatar in a huge sandstorm. It’s more of a super-fine dust, really. Imagine driving in a snowstorm, but none of what’s falling accumulates: it just keeps on blowing. Qatar is a peninsula with Saudi Arabia to the south.

Qatar

Now in Kathmandu and it’s a busy, crazy place.  There’s a lot to take in.

Kathmandu

Kathmandu

The streests are crowded…cars, motorbikes, rickshaws, dogs, people, children. Don’t act surprised if you see monkeys darting around. In fact, there’s a small monkey sleeping on the window ledge just outside my room! The good news is that all 3 of my duffels made it. With so much specialized gear, all of  it broken-in and familiar to me, that’s super important.  I’m the first IMG team member to arrive; others will arrive by later tonight.

After settling in the Hotel Tibet, went to the Thamel area of Kathmandu.

The Hotel Tibet

I stopped at the Yeti Restaurant and had a big glass of Everest Beer, Special Limited Edition.  What makes it special is that it celebrates a local sherpa who has summitted 12 times.  I figure its gotta be good luck!  I took in some of the local flavor with “potsticker”  dumpling filled with buffalo (allegedly) and a plate of  freshly made spring rolls.  Total cost, including the tip, was just a bit over $6 (I think I got the Rupee conversion right which is 71 Rupees per Dollar).

Written by mmsummits7

March 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

Wonder if I can carry-on my ice axe….?

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Serious gear, serious climb!

Packed up and ready to go!  Total gear weighs in about 150 pounds…..2 big -40F  sleeping bags (one for base camp, another for high camp),  down suits, multiple pairs of boots,  gloves,  6 pounds of candy, etc. etc. etc.!!  All of this stuffed into 3 big duffels–2 go directly to base camp–1 stays with me on the trek into Base Camp (it’s a good hike into Base Camp at 18,000 feet over 10 days, 45 miles).  By the way, Base Camp is taller than anything else in the U.S.A.

One nice thing about Everest is that the yaks carry our gear instead of us!  In addition, they will also be bringing up fresh supplies of food on a regular basis.

That’s about it for now,,,,,,,cuz

I THINK I’M GOING TO KATAMANDU!!!

Written by mmsummits7

March 23, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Posted in Mountaineering

Welcome to the climb

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Denali  June 2008

I leave in 10 days, just finished my last training hike up Mt Washington over the weekend.  I accomplished this final trip in exactly 5 hours, a fantastic time. I am feeling ready.  Really prepped and ready.  After many many hours of training and preparation, my quads, hamstrings and calves are in tip top shape.

International  Mountain Guides, the outfit I am climbing Everest with, also has a website where you can follow along on trip reports http://www.mountainguides.com/everest-south11.shtml Their recent posting is titled “Preparation Meets Opportunity” which is a pretty apt description of where I feel I am at….all the preparation I have been going through is ready to meet the opportunity to climb Everest.

A little on the training…..I have been going to Attain Performance typically 4x/week, doing evening training at home, and climbing Mt Washington (in New Hampshire) virtually every weekend since December.  For those unfamiliar with Washington, it is “home of the world’s worst weather’ with 230+ mph winds recorded there.  While I did not encounter these, I have hiked numerous times in 60+ mph winds this winter, with negative degree temps (resulting in -40 to -50 wind chills).  It is a great place to train, and figure out any gear issues.

More on gear later…….

Written by mmsummits7

March 14, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Posted in Mountaineering