Page 29 - 2016 AMA Autumn
P. 29

                                 Thoughts from the High Altitude Development Team Shawn Stock – BSDMRE2016
Seventy-one million years ago the Indian Tectonic plate was positioned below the equator. Ten million years ago it collided with the Eurasian Tectonic plate creating a mountain range so
great that it stretches from Pakistan through India, Nepal, and Tibet to Bhutan, a distance of 1,500 miles. She houses ten of the world’s highest peaks; the remaining four are situated in the Karakoram. She commands your attention and in doing so commands your respect. She is majestic in every aspect; she is known as the Himalaya - home of snow.
April this year saw the departure of British Services Dhaulagiri Medical Research Expedition 2016, BSDMRE2016. A Joint Service Expedition to conduct medical research at altitude in the Dhaulagiri Mountain Range of western Nepal. Examining the prospects of iron infusion into the human cell, and whether this can aid in acclima- tisation for people working in an environment which at present is prohibited where unrealistic assent profiles are in place.
Further data was collated including bloods, echocardiograms and lung capacity. Prior to departure the team volunteered for a minor operation which involved a Reveal implant being placed under the skin, over the left pectoral muscle. This device recorded cardiac activity throughout the expedition. The data recorded was then sent back to the cardiology department at Poole Hospital for ongoing research into the effects of altitude on the human body.
Our objectives as Development Team were to summit two peaks. The first being Dhampus 6035m elevation and the second being Tukuche 6920m elevation. Dhampus was a trekking peak and used as acclimatisation for future summit attempts. Dhamphus’ summit offered a grand panoramic including Tukuche, which proved more arduous than anticipated. Setting up camps 1 and 2 on Tukuche required every effort from the expedition. Climbing teams inserting these camps endured weather fronts which would prove impossible to operate in for any reasonable period. The conditions endured on Tukuche and work put in enabled a select few to make a successful
summit attempt via junction peak to west summit
With time on our hands and only a few days left at Base Camp 5100m, Al Mason, Stu Quinn and myself set our sights on another peak to the north west of base camp. This particular peak has no name and so harboured the thoughts of a first ascent. Al soon put a stop to my fantasy after mentioning that he spotted a tin can half way up. The peak was not technical and fairly straightforward apart from one or two crevasses near her summit. The approach to summit was slow, expectant and encouraged an enquiring excitement that only a mountain can evoke.
Tri Service
Like any expedition, people learn, become accustomed and get to know one another very well. This was my fourth time in the Himalaya but first time working alongside personnel from RAF and RN. I find it quite humorous that each arm has its own personality. The Army, with its robust and slightly sadistic humour. The RAF, very civil but eventually succumbing to the Army’s robust and slightly sadistic humour. And then the RN, who would never succumb to the robust and slightly sadistic humour of the Army, or anything of the sort.
Culinary Delights
On occasion the will to except more (which we all have) was challenged. In this case it was with a meal which I can only describe as “glacial squid” the likes of which I’ve never set eyes on or tasted before. This was much to the Sherpa’s / Porter’s delight and humour as they watched - with plenty more in hand – as we tried to consume the meal. God knows what it was. Our faces adorned with question, curiosity, revulsion. Yet the will to except more was ever present.
On Reflection
I’m fairly sure that after any enduring period in a remote and austere environment that it becomes you, and you become it almost like a refinement. The very fabric of the environment encompasses an individual, tailoring them to it. In doing so a piece of you stays there, which is why we choose to return. The result being an affection and comfortability attained by acceptance.
Gaining a position on the Development Team was a privilege and something of which I’m sure we all reflected on, and learned from. Like any expedition it encompasses everything you expect and more, including memories that can never be captured on camera.
BSDMRE16 Team in Hidden Valley

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