Measuring the debilitating effects of high altitude on sleep and appetite has taken an Old Monmothian to the highest mountain in the world.
William Harper OM 05 – 12 worked alongside doctors and the local hospital during an exhilarating three-week expedition in the Himalayas.
The University of Warwick student carried out research on climbers heading from Kathmandu to Mount Everest.
Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather, avalanches and icefall and William battled his way to the South Base Camp in Nepal.
“The trip was an incredible experience,” said William, a third year Medical student.
“Trekkers commonly experience symptoms of acute mountain sickness which can be extremely dangerous.
“However, symptoms can also be innocuous and make the trip an unpleasant experience for people.”
Having arrived in Kathmandu, William and another student from Warwick formed a 10-person team, including four guides, for the 140-mile trek.
After flying to Lukla Airport, the group then travelled to Namche Bazar, trekking for up to seven hours a day over the next two weeks.
The group passed hundreds of local people transporting foods and goods between villages, commonly on the back of Yaks, which posed a problem when the paths became single file.
“As we climbed above 5,000 metres, the air became noticeably thinner,” said William.
“Turning over at night would render us breathless. The fatigue was crippling and even sleeping for 10 hours a night was not enough rest for our bodies.
“As we reached Gorak Shep, we were almost ready for a final push to Everest Base Camp.”
The group headed back to Kathmandu, taking a detour to summit Island Peak. They spent three days on the mountain to acclimatise.
“Eventually, we left our tents at 2am in minus 15 degrees Celsius and trudged through the dark until we reached a point that required us to don our harnesses and crampons,” explained William.
“We all roped together for safety and continued along the icy glacier for the next two hours, crossing a three-ladder-wide crevasse along the way.
“The final ascent to Base Camp was a vertical ice wall which required two ice axes and a lot of determination.
“We had to rest to catch our breath after every three steps. It took us seven hours and five chocolate bars to reach the summit. The views from the summit were incredible; encapsulating Nuptse and Lhotse rock face.”
After reaching Base Camp and carrying out important research, the group summited Island Peak at 6,189-metres before descending back to the capital.
William said: “The project presented itself through my studies and I was fuelled by my desire to travel and my determination never to give up.
“These traits were fostered and encouraged during my time at Monmouth School for Boys and long may it continue.”
He added: “The outcomes of our project have yet to be fully written up and then hopefully our work will go through the publication process.”