Video of the Mountain out "there" by one of the China Team Member, Xiao Hei
Joanne shared with me her experience boiling hot water during her recent climb at Cho Oyu. I would believe most people know how to boil water. Everyone knows atmospheric pressure drop as altitude increase. I believe my Sunnto watch register altitude base on barometer and temperature reading. I realised the change of pressure is quite proportional. Do U guys know the effect of the effect of pressure on water boiling point?
Boiling point is defined as the temperature liquid change to gaseous state. OR to put in more “chim”, it is the state when the pressure of liquid changing to gaseous state is equal to surrounding pressure. Pure water boils at 100degree C at 1 atmospheric pressure, approximately 1bar.
A rough guide - water boiling temperature decrease by 5.5degree C for every thousand metre ascend. If this is true, water would boil at 56degree C at Everest C4 (8000m asl)? Other interesting facts to take note, the time needed to boil the same volume of water increases. One good method to conserve fuel is to create high pressure in a low ambient pressure environment. Putting a firm lid on the pot helps to reduce the amount of kerosene/butane a climber needs to bring up the mountain.
My friend Kee Leng bakes cookies. She told baking powder is an alkaline which causes cookie to grow by releasing gas at high temperature. She also shared her experience of baking with more butter using white and brown sugar at vary temperature. My mum bakes too. While she doesn’t involve herself with writing paper for process, I am pretty sure she bakes better than Kee Leng. Hopefully, Kee Leng would not throw in so much theory and continue baking better cookie for me.
A little input on high altitude baking… water evaporates faster at low pressure condition. This can cause cookie to be too sweet. Also at high altitude, the cookie may “rise” excessively. In short, one should decrease baking powder and sugar while increase water and probably temperature when baking at high altitude.
If “Acclimatisation” is like doing homework, the trek for summit is like doing examination. My team has done the homework diligently. We climbed repeatedly to higher altitude and adjust our body to the pressure up “there”. Our bodies were busy growing red blood cells when we were “doing nothing”. There is a two days break before summit bid. I proposed going Tashkorgan prior to taking the examination. It is a much needed break for me. Through the experience of climbing Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro. I believe a break before doing a higher mountain would only be beneficial.
The trip to Tashkorgan was tiring but worth the effort
Minus Linda, my team and all three guides went down. We had the food prepared at lower altitude, and our stomachs seem to appreciate the food better. After ten days above 4400m asl, my body adjust comfortably at Tashkorgan. Rest heart rate was at 60bpm compare to 80bpm when I first hit 3200m asl. Apart from food, we have the ability to communicate to the outside world as and when we like. (The mobile phone reception at base camp is bad, one has to walk ten min to a solar power reception antenna)
After one night at Tashkorgan, my team returned to Mustagh Ata BC. Phei Sunn then initiated packing some food for friendly Linda Tan. I decided to pack more than her normal diet as she deserved the more needed nourishment. We also pack 2 chickens for our Chinese friends. The journey from 204 to BC was experiencial. I lose count the number of times the bike I took broke down. Our driver “Jiang Bie He” tried to repair his 6000yuan 4WD at his village (somewhere between 204 and BC). I seized the opportunity to take some photo of the local.
Photo taken at Jiang Bie He's village
Before the summit bid, Linda, Joyce and me chatted with the Koreans. Apparently, I received a Korea written letter from another European climber during my last acclaimisation climb at Camp 2. The climber told me, “Four Koreans are at C3. They look fine, and they have enough food and fuel. This is a letter for the BC manager.”
The weather during my final acclimatisation climb wasn’t fantastic. I wasn’t thinking much when I walked from C2 to BC. The content of the letter was reviewed by the BC manager. Apparently, the Koreans are doing the mountain Alpine style.
i.e. they do not have any guide, and the climbers have to be self sufficient in term of logistics for each camp. It is a very independent climbing method, but the risk can be high… In fact, Korea team went a little over the dangerous edge.
Mustagh Ata from 204
Mustagh Ata doesn’t look difficult at all. Like what my head guide, San Ji Mu, narrated, “It seem possible to climb the peak within a day from BC”. The tough part for the mountain is probably… “Father of Ice Mountain” looked too simple. When we were back from Tashkorgan, we realised three of the four Koreans rescued were in good shape now. The fourth climber, leader of the team, was yet to be found.
My team planned to stand on 7546m asl on 20 Jul 07. The weather was great when we set off for C1 on 17 Jul 07. While I planned for an alternate summit date on 23/24 Jul 07, I knew Phei Sunn could not extend her stay. Quietly, I hoped for the weather to last til our summit day.
The walk from C1 to C2
Moving from BC to C2 was easy. One can easily tell the difference between an acclimatised climber and first timer. As the weather was great, I took photograph as I approach C1 and C2. Sadly, my lips was burn as I move toward the sun. My pace was good, and I managed to reach these camp sites within 6hours. I felt better sleeping at 6200m asl then.
The walk from C2 to C3
The true challenge came in when we attempt C3 at 6900m asl. Linda was apprehensive as she did not even reach C2 during the last acclimatisation climb. Nonetheless, I thought she would be fine. She has a cutting edge over me. Her appetite was always better than me at high altitude. True enough, I lose appetite at C3, like the first time I was at C2. I only consume dried preserve mango and GU gel.
The weather for summit bid was much better, but it can be dangerous when clouds start to come it.
Above, Kim Boon's crevasse (death trap between C2 and C3)
Ambient temperature decreases by 6 degree C for every thousand metre ascend. The temperature drop can be harsher as region not exposing to land and sea breeze. At C3, the sleeping bag rated at minus 25c is not warm enough at night. I have to sleep with my fleece jacket.
On 20.07.2007, we attempted for summit. The sky was clear but the wind was strong. I believe the speed is at close to 10knots when we first began walking. The day break almost immediately after we start walking. Linda and me took the lead while Joyce is following close behind. She was using Linda and me as wind shield. We were told, such condition is considered good weather at 7000m. We tried to call for Phei Sunn to fell back a little. But the howling wind has upperhand in term of volume. It was pretty scary to see all the foot steps erased by wind almost instantaneously. I was unable to shout. To talk and walk is difficult at 7000m asl. I was happy with every efforted step, every step mean a new altitude record to me.
The final approach to summit
As we were approaching the summit, we saw two Tibetan guides coming down. Together with them was “something” wrapped in a sleeping bag. They found the Korean team leader at just above 7000m! I thougth of taking a shot to document this incident… Eventually, something stopped me. I thought there should be more respect for the dead alpine climber. He could had make it back to the C3 should there be a guide with him. He had choosen to take the risk. This is the third dead incident on the mountain during 2007 climb season. My nearest encounter of dead angel dancing around me.
San Ji Mu warned us about the turn around time at 1330. When it was 1330, we were searching for the true summit. It is not easy to find the pinnacle while walking on the plateau. Eventually, Joyce reached the summit, follow by me and Linda. All of us hit the summit after the designated turn around time. Descending was tougher than I though. I has not been eating proper food for more than a day, the summit push literally drain most of my energy. With the help of Ren Qing, I made it to close to 7200m. He started to feel a little snow blind and I walk the rest of the way to C3. I am thankful that sun set at close to 10pm at Mustagh Ata during summer.
Another night at C3 was pretty torturous. It was another night my body rejected food. On 21 Jul 07, Joyce, Linda and me make our way to BC at 9am. We heard about a Swiss lady who was evacuated the day before at C3. How I wish someone would come to evacuate me. I was able to walk but was really tired. My guide offered to carry my pack for me. I was quick to agree.
When we reach C1, I saw another Chinese group. They had finished their last acclimatisation cycle and were on their way down from C2. One of the couple look super tired. I felt better after changing to my trekking boots at C1. One of my guides, Hong Bo, who sent Phei Sunn to BC the day before was making his way to C1. He volunteered to to carry Linda’s pack for her. Linda rejected the offer stubbornly. Phei Sunn who had decided to turn back a day early was at BC, she left for Khasgar when we reached BC. We were congratulated by the local climbers. I was relieved I had ended my mission for 2007.
At BC, I started taking food… and remember about home.
Faces of Khasgar