Doctors are looking for volunteers willing to help high-level medical research – at Everest base camp.
The medical team is searching for 208 fit recruits to join in the 23-day experiment at the 5,300m camp early in 2007. In addition to submitting to stints on an exercise bike up at EBC, volunteers will also have to fork out nearly £2,400 for the privilege, £500 of which includes a donation to research funds.
The programme will investigate the effects of high altitude and low oxygen levels on the human body, usually conducted in decompression chambers. Doctors from the Xtreme-Everest team running the experiments say using base camp will give more consistent results.
They hope the research will help understand conditions such as cystic fibrosis, emphysema and septic shock, as well as acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Hypoxia – low levels of blood oxygen – is a critical factor in high-altitude climbing as well as in many intensive-care patients and the team, including seasoned mountaineer Dr Mike Grocott, hope to gain insights to help such patients.
Volunteers on the scheme will have to carry equipment for the experiment. Dr Grocott of University College London, said similar tests would be carried out on Everest's South Col. At least 10 of the team are expected to make an attempt on the mountain’s summit. Dr Sundeep Dhillon is climbing leader. He became the youngest person to climb the highest peaks on each continent in 1998.
A brochure for anyone interested in the expedition is avaliable at Xtreme-Everest website.