Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 46

What's it like to stand at the top of a mountain?  My friend Katie has done it on Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania.  Is there a big flat place to stand, or is it a pointy peak, like you see in cartoons?  How wide, how flat, and how safe is it?  I'm guessing "not very" to all of those questions.

Me, I am fascinated and terrified of heights.

Here's a panorama photo of the view from the top of Mount Everest, scroll along to get the full effect. 

With increasing numbers of people climbing the mountain , the Hillary Step (which marks the last challenging climb to the peak) has frequently become a bottleneck, with climbers forced to wait significant amounts of time for their turn on the ropes, leading to problems in getting climbers efficiently up and down the mountain.  After the Hillary Step, climbers also must traverse a very loose and rocky section that has a very large entanglement of fixed ropes that we can see in the photo above. Climbers will typically spend less than a half-hour on the peak as they realize the need to descend to Camp IV before darkness sets in, afternoon weather becomes a serious problem, or oxygen tanks run out.

It's also blimmin windy at the top of Mount Everest, the Jet Stream blasts the rocky, icy summit of Everest nearly all year long. The Jet Stream is a constant wind force at 4 - 6 miles above the earth. Observers can tell when the Jet Stream is blowing on the summit of Everest from the long white stream of ice crystals extending out from the tip of the mountain. Fascinating!

I just love the Jet Stream.

I can guarantee that I wouldn't be standing on that peak but possibly kneeling, or more likely lying as flat as I could make myself.  Terrifying!!!!


  1. Crikey, looks like the climbers have spread their washing out all over the summit, who would have thought they'd have time to do laundry ... those sherpa's must get sick of lugging washing machines up Mt Everest.
    I love the jet stream too, I must buy the DVD on that TV series about weather.

  2. Is that you Sister? Surely it must be? I don't know anyone else who is even slighty interested in stuff like that unless they're related and have no choice but to love it!