Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Expedition starts at Bangor University last weekend in brilliant sunshine

About 40 Expedition members attended the first research weekend in Bangor last weekend. In brilliant sunshine the sea level data collection got underway in North Wales.

The meeting was hosted by physiology lectureres Dr Jamie MacDonald and Dr Sam Oliver at the Department of Sports Science, Bangor. Researchers and Expedition Members from California, Slovenia, Holland, Poland, Germany and the UK.

This was the first of two data collecting weekends and was the first time the Expedition came together as a whole. Chris Smith did an excellent job meeting and greeting members before directing them to the various research stations. Body composition was measured by a variety of different techniques which include DEXA scan, impedance and by immersion in a water tank to determine body density. This is the measure that will be used in the field and will be the one that will prove most challenging to our logistics team as 1000 litre tank has to be erected, filled with water and warmed to a balmy 23 degrees. No easy challenge in the Himalayas at 2,700 metres!

The American / Dutch team of pulmonoligists were busy with their echo study of pulmonary circulation and various other interventions. Doug Thake, physiologist from Coventry University, worked late into the night with medical students Sven Dietrich and Jenny Landerer from Germany. They were taking lots of blood samples before, during and after exercise in order to measure the effects of oxidative stress.

Meanwhile a team of undergraduates from Bangor's Sports Science Department were busy conducting their studies and acting as willing volunteer subjects in the other projects. The Bangor students are all undertaking research on this Expedition as part of their BSc.

Tenji Sherpa, from Sherpa Brothers Ltd in Kathmandu, is the Nepalese agent for the Expedition and had come to the UK. He was able to meet many of the team for the first time and to get a feel for the volume of research that will be undertaken in Nepal. It will be his unenviable task to make sure that all the complicated bits of high tech research kit arrive at the right place on time and, hopefully, in one piece. This is going to be a significant challenge as the next time the estimated 800kg of research equipment will be assembled will be at 5,100metres in the remote and infrequently visited Hidden Valley in Nepal. All equipment will be carried to Base Camp either by porters or mule. Base camp technicians, Denzil Broadhurst and Jim Duffy will then need to assemble it and connect it up to the solar and wind powered electricity supply. By the end of September we should have recreated the laboratories of Bangor University in a barren, wind swept valley nestling under the towering North Face of Dhualigiri. We are all keeping our fingers crossed!

However Base Camp is still two months away. The team will be busy in the meantime preparing for the Expedition. In addition to the Research kit, George Wormald, in charge of freighting from the UK, will need to assemble all the usual paraphernalia that accompanies any expedition. Medical supplies, climbing equipment, radios and Jamie's special sports drinks will all come together at George's house near Oxford ready for freighting at the end of August.

Below are some photos and videos of the various research projects at Bangor last weekend.