In addition to climbing Makalu the team will be undertaking data collection for scientists back in the UK.
To put this into context, doing anything at all at high altitude, especially the so-called “Death Zone” above 8000m requires extreme mental, physical and logistical preparation, and some luck. As team doctor Jon Naylor points out in his explanation of the affects of altitude on the body, “even at rest the work of breathing is very high and any exertion produces extreme hyperventilation… Many climbers find that they are lightheaded and rather detached from reality at these extreme altitudes… the risk of altitude illness, and from the effects of the extreme cold, is magnified many times”
Nevertheless, this is a very rare opportunity to conduct unique and important research and so we are working with the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield (through Dr Aga Nowak) to better understand microbial communities that exist in one of the most extreme environments on earth.
We will perform a comprehensive snow sampling campaign that will start at 4000m and finish close to the top of the Makalu – 8463m. The samples will be analysed in UK labs on our return.
We are also working with the School of Geography at the University of Leeds (through Dr Duncan Quincey) with the aim of conducting research into glacial movement. Images made by the team will contribute to a Structure-from-Motion modelling process that will take place back in the UK. This will be the largest project of this kind ever conducted within the field of glaciology.