Blog Archive

Friday, February 27, 2015

What are we climbing?

Tucked away in the north of Nepal, very close to the Tibetan Border, there is a remote mountain called Larkya Peak. It is 6,200m high and has had few recorded ascents so for us it is a voyage into the unknown. I have just culled this crop of pictures from Google Earth which purport to be recent photographs. These are probably the best images we have of the mountain we are hoping to attempt.

Our Base Camp will be near the trail that is marked on the photo above as Larkya La Trail. It will take us 2 weeks to walk to this point and it will be here that we establish our Base Camp and it is here that our research will be undertaken.

The climb to the peak from Base Camp ascends over difficult stony ground to the foot of the glacier that descends from the col between the 2 peaks - Larkya Peak Col which is 5,650m high. We have permission to attempt both the peak on the right and on the left.

The picture above looks down at the col 5,650 and the two peaks. from here the angle of the glacier looks less steep than when viewed from below. We think that the glacier has a gradient of about 45 degrees for about 300m and steepens just below the col. Clearly there are a lot of crevasses and a significant risk of avalanche so we will have to be very careful.

The picture above looks to the east back down the valley that we will ascend to reach Base Camp. Col 5,650m is in the middle of the shot with the long 600m ridge rising above it to the main summit.

On this picture I have tried to position the camera as if we were at the col 5,650m looking down the glacier to the morrain lake that will be near our Base Camp. The angle of the glacier looks much less steep here but I think this might be deceptive. It is just amazing what you can do with Google Earth!

The picture above looks down on Larkya Peak and to the west. When our Expedition concludes we will decend down this valley to join the main Annapurna Trail. I think after 2 weeks at Base Camp or above it will be a real treat to find warmth and vegetation again.

And finally this picture shows the summit of Larkya Peak, 6,200m and down the long west ridge. The northern slopes through which our ascent glacier threads, look much steeper from this angle.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Data, packing and freighting

Last weekend saw 40+ members gather again in Bangor University for more data collection, packing and final preparations for freighting.

Isla and Ben spent much of the weekend meticulously packing the 5 group medical barrels and the other medical barrel to go direct base camp.

We have freighted £2,000 worth of medical supplies which will be donated to a hospital in Pokhara at the end of the expedition. In addition we are sending out 2 Gammow Bags. We will be hiring medical oxygen sets in Kathmandu.

Denzil had already packed the equipment he needs to produce power at Base Camp for the research. Each of the "power barrels" weigh in at 25kg and contain batteries that will ultimately be donated to charities in Nepal that can make use of them. The system will be completely driven by solar panels so we are hoping for much sunshine!

Tony Davies came up with the brilliant idea of recycling out of date syringes left over from the last expedition. With a pair of pliers (probably made in Sheffield) he converted them into individual glass ampoule holders. The barrels themselves are already recycled and, no doubt, will have long lives as grain stores in mountain villages in the years to come.

This was the first time the Porter Welfare Project team came together to finalise their plans and pack their research barrels. Mary Morrell came with the news that the project had, at the last minute, gained approval by the Nepalese Ethics Committee.

Dinner in the evening was superb at the University's Management Centre. All in all a very sociable weekend

On the Sunday the barrels got weighed and measured for freighting. George's laptop came out and the contents of every freight item went onto a spreadsheet to share with the freight handlers and customs in UK and Nepal. George had hired a long wheel based Enterprise van which got packed to the gunnels. All the freight headed off to Oxford Sunday evening and will, by now, be with the handlers and starting the long journey to Base Camp.

We will be following soon!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Data collection begins at Bangor February 14th

Menai Straits from the grounds of Bangor University - SEA LEVEL TESTS

Last weekend the first of the two data collection weekends took place at Bangor University. Their purpose being to collect sea level data prior to climbing to our Research camp at 5,000m at the foot of Larkya Peak to the north of Manaslu in the Nepal Himalaya. From there we will attempt the peak itself which is approximately 6,200m.

This was the first time our research team had come together. Sam Verges and his team from Grenoble had rented a cottage in Menai Bridge so were perfectly poised for both data weekends which are being hosted by the Department of Sports Science at Bangor University, North Wales.

James Anholm had flown in from California for the week to test and be tested. Jamie MacDonald and Sam Oliver's graduates and under-graduates, being based in Bangor, were out in force to measure vO2max and exercise rates in reduced oxygen environments.

Matt Bell was there to kick off the psychology project he is coordinating with Sue Paddon.

Next weekend the Porter Wellfare reseach team will be joining in to finalise their plans.

A small army of willing volunteer subjects turned up from Spain, Holland, France and, of course, all corners of the UK.

The George Building, Bangor University
There is always potential on these occasions for chaos when a whole bunch of relative strangers assemble for a tight schedule of testing. Jamie MacDonald and his team had, however, been hard at work planning every detail and the whole weekend went like clockwork.

Next weekend we will be assembling again at Bangor for more testing and packing of equipment and supplies ready for freighting to Kathmandu the following week.

With just 5 weeks to go until we depart spirits were running high and it was evident to me just how much everyone is looking forward to the next Medex adventure which starts at the end of March.

Go to this link For full lay descriptions of the projects being undertaken

For detailed project proposals go to the Medex Research page.

Entrance lobby of the George Building

James Anholm running his test on Chris Smith
Ben & Ruben
Team Grenoble hard at work in the lab doing echocardiography

Chris tells me this was part of her vigorous testing regimen