Return to Everest 2009
Image: A group shot of NASA's unofficial 2008 Mt. Everest Expedition. This year's climb will mix in some serious research.
Steve "Ark" Vander Ark takes a deep breath at the foot of the stairs in a lonely, dusky stairwell, then turns and heads up ten long flights of steps - for the eighth time. He'll repeat this ritual thrice more, for a total of 100 flights of stairs, in the NASA Johnson Space Center building where he works. And to top it all off, he's wearing a fully-laden backpack.
Why? He's getting ready to climb Mount Everest.
Why? Because it's there - and because he wants to do a NASA research project along the way to benefit future space travelers. [More at Science@NASA]
At Everest, the Icefall Doctors today extended the route to almost the top of the icefall, so we are hoping that within the next couple days the route to C1 will be finished. Most team members have now managed to go partway up the Icefall to practice their ladderÂ crossing techniques. [More at IMG]
For those trekking up from below, it spells hardship, extreme cold, nausea, headaches that won't go away and the risk of potentially lethal altitude sickness. For those climbing down from the dangers above, it's a haven with hot water, comfortable beds, warm climate, good food and safety. Right now, everyone is comingÂ up to Everest base campÂ from below. [More at Discovery]
Today saw several IMG team members making initial forays into the Icefall. Ed Wardell and Jamie Berry of the Discovery film team went up with the Icefall doctors to shoot the installation of some of the ladders. The Icefall route is now established through the "popcorn" section and up to the "football field". It will take another couple days of work to build the route up the final steep pitches of theÂ Icefall. [More at IMG]
Image (from 2008): Scott Parazynski using a fixed laddder to cross a constantly shifting crevasse on the Khumbu Icefall. These ladders are put in place by expert Sherpa "Ice Doctors" and are constantly readjusted as the ice underneath shifts.
Days 19 & 20/April 9 & 10, 2009 (Thursday & Friday): Reveille at 04:45, courtesy of a give-away, battery-powered alarm clock that thankfully didn't fail me in the sub-zero temperatures of 17,500 feet. It had been another blustery night, with what I anticipated would turn out to be a foot or more of fresh fallen snow. It turned out the snow hitting my tent was mostly wind-driven snow, a little fresh, mostly old, and therefore conditions were excellent for Danuru and I to make a go on the Khumbu Icefall.
Scott is heading up the Khumbu Icefall. Track him here via SPOT - pick the "satellite" view.