Today is May 1st, start of a new month – and given we had another rest day today and the fact that on our next rotation we will be bringing oxygen masks up the hill in addition to our regular kit – Jon gave us a demo of how to use the masks and oxygen tanks – which are a critical part of our equipment above C 3.
As a reminder – on our next rotation we will climb to C3 & stay the night – all without oxygen. I am told this overnight at 23k+ feet will be quite uncomfortable. After that – on our summit push – we will climb from C3 to C4 (high camp on the South Col) with oxygen, sleep at C4 with oxygen – and finally, make our way to the summit using oxygen.
For those of you that scuba dive, concept is somewhat similar – actually easier, if anything. We all received our masks and took turns hooking up to the ranks and using – trying our best not to do a lame Darth Vader (Starwars) or Bane (Batman) impression! Jon also instructed me to keep the mask on for a while to get extra oxygen – a great healer at this altitude – and sure enough, my ribs hurt just that bit less after – if only temporarily.
To pre-empt the question: All of our team are using oxygen. Some folks from other teams have opted to try without – and that is their decision. Statistically speaking, only a tiny fraction of people who have summited Everest have done so without using supplemental oxygen. The likelihood of success is so much less while the risk of injury or death is so much greater that there simply was no question for me.
To anticipate other questions: the oxygen tank itself weighs about 18lbs and I will carry one in my packpack at all times, switching out for a fresh tank later in the ascent on summit day, which will thenstay with me until my return to C4. During that time, I expect to use an oxygen flow of 2-3L/min.
On a bright note – that’s yet another previously unknown variable now addressed – another piece of the puzzle in place, which is only a good thing! I suppose as with everything else – one thing to do a demo down here at EBC, a whole other thing to use in anger up high – but one thing is for sure… oxygen is my friend!
On an even lighter note – given it is Monday – I need to remember that a Monday in the mountains – even with sore ribs –is probably still better than a Monday back at work 🙂