Hi all, this is just to give "first chance" to any Challengers who may be interested.
I’ve spent much of my time in the last few months putting together an expedition for some quite basic and simple medical research concerning the body’s physiological responses to increasing altitude. There does seem to be a little bit of a gap in knowledge, despite all the high-powered research that has been done. (If anyone wants the medical details and literature review, I can e-mail them.)
The plan is to take a group of healthy adults of all ages on a specially-designed trek, to provide a long slow ascent from a very modest altitude to a significantly high one, on a non-technical Himalayan trekking peak, while taking measurements (all of them painless and non-invasive, more details on request) at frequent intervals. To this end, KE Adventure Travel (they’re the people who do many of the TGO Reader treks) are giving me a special rate as a “private group” on a combination of two of their regular treks: one hike through the Himalayan foothills from Jiri with a “low” of about 1600m, and one ascent of Mera Peak, which is almost 6500m, with fabulous views to Everest and neighbours. KE are doing all the logistics for me, so it’s all as safe and secure as all their holidays, with the same trek leaders, insurance and the rest. You can view either trek on their website.
To anyone scared off by the cost, even with our special rate (£1995 very inclusive, plus flights about £650 return), let me add quickly that I have an assurance from the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations that it is perfectly legal for volunteers to raise funds towards their own expenses as if for a charity, since this is a not-for-profit research project. Also, my fund-seeking appeals for the expedition have not borne fruit so far, but if any do in future, the proceeds will be divided among volunteers to reduce the cost further. I also have two firm offers of discounts on kit for participants: one from the retailer Summits (who may also give me limited sponsorship, but we all know times are hard for businesses), and one from manufacturer Montane; it’s possible more may follow.
I realise that a 24-day trek plus flights will be difficult for many people’s holiday quotas; but I’m afraid the whole point is to make the ascent so gradual that almost everyone is likely to reach the summit, and also to allow time for measurements to be taken. That being said, it may be the best chance lots of people will ever have of standing on a snowy summit in the Himalaya!
I'm very excited about it now, of course. If anyone wants to express a preliminary interest, let me know either by e-mail or on this message board.