As part of their almostEverest trek challenge, Mike and Dave are introducing school children to high-tech and high-altitude technology (see "Back to school: Dave and Mike's day off " and "Back to school: The first collection of answers from Nepal "). Cassie Beisel recently sent an e-mail to the guys, offering a special high-altitude breathing tip she learned. In this dispatch, Dave sends his personal reply to Cassie.
Hi Mike! Hi Dave! How are ya doin'? In case you're wondering, I am one of the students of the sixth grade at M.B.S. You visited us not too long ago. Since you are running short of breath, I thought I could give you a little tip that I saw while I was watching a mountain climbing special on the Discovery Channel. It might take a little while, but it will probably help you. Every step you take, stop, breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. You probably won't use it, but I thought I should tell you just in case. Our school computers aren't working very well, in fact it takes 10 minutes to get half the page loaded. So, since I have little patience, I wanted to check up on you on my own. When do you think you will finally reach your destination? Well, if you can, try to write back! See ya!
6th grade M.B.S.
Hi Cassie! Great to hear from you! Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts!
The special you watched on the Discovery Channel was VERY accurate. Taking a step, then resting and breathing, followed by another step, is called "rest stepping." Mike and I have used it frequently—especially above 14,000 feet (4,267 meters). Not only do we use the rest step to help regulate our breathing, but we also use it to take the weight off our tired leg muscles. Walking this way helps us conserve energy. Remember, a climber should burn only 50 percent of his or her body's available energy going up the mountain. Do you know why?
I bet you do. Because you need the other 50 percent for the trip down. And believe it or not, most accidents occur going down because many climbers use up too much of their energy going up. Makes sense, huh?
Mike made it to Gorak Shep, a small village on the outskirts of the Everest Base Camp, and then up Kala Patar, an 18,400-foot (5,608-meter) mountain. I made it to about 17,000 feet (5,182 meters) before altitude sickness forced me to turn back. So we made it to the tops of several mountains, just not the really big one. Weather was bad—we had snow every day and the mountain peak conditions were not good. But the mountains will be there for another day. It's always best to think of safety first in any sport. Right? I only have one body, and it's best to turn away and live to play another day!
We're on our way down now. In fact, we're in Namche Bazaar. It's a rest day, and we're really looking forward to getting back home. When we get there, we'll come back and talk to you again. We have a lot to tell and share with your class.
Did you know that above 16,000 feet (4,877 meters), the oxygen level is only 53 percent of what you're breathing in Louisville? Wow!
Well, more later, Cassie. Thanks for writing to us! See ya soon!
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David Bard has been a fixture at TechRepublic for some time now. At one time he was editor in chief of LinuxRepublic and then AdminRepublic. Currently, he occupies space as an editor in chief with TechProGuild. In addition, he’s a freelance writer who has covered extreme sports for years. He also is a writer of horror and—contrary to what his climbing partner may think—is hoping the expedition to Nepal doesn’t provide fodder for his next story. When he’s not at home teaching his year-and-a-half-old daughter why it’s not a good idea to eat rocks, or trying to convince his wife why yet another expedition really is necessary, he’s usually off in some remote section of woods trying to discover himself. He’s still looking.
Mike Jackman is an editor in chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor in chief David Bard, he is traveling to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.