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10 May- O2 Masks/Search for Internet

Good Morning Air Force Supporters!

I’m sitting on the Khumbu Glacier, about a half mile from the beginning of the Icefall. Capt Andrew Ackles and I have been searching for a cell signal strong enough to support data (we finally got the capability to use a US iPhone to access the net and send updates- this is our first successful session!). We used to only have net access via a 2hr hike down to the village of Gorak Shep. But out here in the middle of the blue ice and ground up rocks of the Khumbu, it’s possible to get line-of-sight with the sole cell tower at Gorak. Rather than a day hike down to the village and back, we should now be able to climb through the rugged glacial ice and send updates from this chilly hilltop just 20min away from our tents.

Today the team was in Everest Base Camp again. We are almost done with our rest/recovery period following the push to upper Camp 3 (24,000ft) a few days ago. Too much rest can be a problem- one can lose acclimatization to the higher altitudes and also let the mind/spirit get soft. So we’ve begun doing day hikes to Kala Pattar (~18,200′) and Pumori Camp1 (~19,100′). Imagine just walking out your back door for an easy stroll up to 19,000ft and back in between breakfast and lunch! While up climbing up the steep rocks to 19,000ft, we searched for a good cell signal but it wasn’t the best- we did laugh at the lengths we were going to in the search for a link to the outside world! If this data link works, there will be a great panoramic photo from Pumori taken today. It shows base camp (tents at bottom), Everest (large dark pyramid above EBC), the Khumbu Icefall (just right of Everest), the Lhotse face (above the Icefall), Nuptse (large snowy/icy peak right of the Lhotse face) and Drew Ackles under it!

On top of keeping our minds and bodies sharp for the upcoming summit push (could start as early as the 14th with a target of the 18th- will keep you all updated), this team of ultra motivated Airmen were as excited as kids at Christmas time two days ago when we got our oxygen systems. We will be using state-of-the-art O2 masks and regulators starting at Camp 3. This system is not only critical to our success once in the Death Zone (>26,000ft), but it’s paramount for personal safety. The supplemental oxygen doesn’t necessarily make you stronger, but it does help keep your extremities warm and mind a bit sharper. We spent a good deal of time reviewing the system’s operation, practicing its use without looking (much of our summit push will be in the dark) and also reviewing any potential malfunctions. I was proud of our team for putting so much focus and professionalism into this training and for helping other climbers get adjusted and comfortable with their masks/regulators. Attached should be a photo of Capt Marshall Klitzke practicing with his O2 rig.

It’s starting to snow and the wind is picking up, so it’s about time to wrap this up. Typing on an iPhone in the cold wasn’t our first plan to do updates, but if it works- then we’ll take it.

Before I sign off- I want to send a big thanks and “kudos” to the 26th and 17th Operational Weather Squadrons! Capt Kyle Martin contacted them by satellite phone (a short and difficult connection to understand) with a request for weather information covering our upcoming summit window. It must have taken some work on their part, but today we received an excellent brief covering winds and temps from Base Camp all the way to the summit of Everest. Nice work!! Everyone here was impressed by this awesome forecasting support- another great example of the Global Reach of the US Air Force.

Ok- will update again in next day or two. Once we get the green light for our summit push, we will report and will try to do voice updates quite often on the climb up.

Go Air Force!!

-Maj Marshall

View from Pumori Camp 1.

Capt Marshall Klitzke (L) and Capt Andrew Ackles practice w their O2 masks.

Capt Ackles at Camp 3, 24,000ft, with summit suit on (including his squadron patch)

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