Raha Moharrak Becomes First Saudi Woman To Climb Mt. Everest

Raha Moharrak has become the first woman from Saudi Arabia to climb Mt. Everest when she made it to the summit yesterday after a grueling climb.

The 25-year-old climber first had to convince her family to allow her to make the attempt, and then had to undergo rigorous training to climb the world’s tallest peak. She was part of a four-person team called Arabs on Top of the World. The team also includes Sheikh Mohammed Al Thani, the first Qatari, and Raed Zidan, the first Palestinian to make the attempt. Masoud Mohammad, an Iranian, is also on the expedition.

The team is working on a rotation system with other expeditions, so the men are currently trying to make the ascent.

The team isn’t only making history; they’re also making a difference. They’re trying to raise $1 million for educational projects in Nepal. A donate button can be found on their website. This is a cause near and dear to Moharrak’s heart. She’s currently a graduate student in Dubai.

Outdoor athlete skis and climbs 2 million vertical feet in one year

Outdoor athlete Greg Hill finished off a vary busy 2010 last Thursday by completing his quest to climb and ski 2 million vertical feet in a single calendar year. The final run came on the slopes of Revelstoke Mountain, located in British Columbia, Canada, not far from where Hill calls home, while a group of friends and family looked on.

Hill’s grand ski adventure got underway on January 1st of last year when he started his quest to hit the magical 2 million feet mark. That quest would take him all over the world as he scrambled to ski as many days as possible over the course of a 365 day period. In order to reach his lofty goal, Hill would need to ski, and climb, an average of roughly 5480 feet each and every day of the year.

It turns out he actually hit the slopes about 270 days of the year instead, which is a big increase from his previous high of 145 days in a single year. Over those 270 days, he averaged about 7400 feet of climbing and skiing in all kinds of weather including howling winds and blowing snow

. His biggest day on the slopes was a 12-hour marathon that saw him cover 23,000 feet both up and down. Hill also made 8 first descents, which in skiing vernacular means he became the first person to ski down a mountain face. Along the way, He also summited 71 different mountains, which is an impressive number in and of itself.

It is difficult to put into perspective exactly what Hill accomplished in his year-long adventure. It takes a tremendous amount of dedication and stamina to climb and ski 2 million feet in such a relatively short time, but it requires a bit of luck as well. One wrong turn on the skis or a slip and a fall while climbing, and the entire thing could have been over. Still, none of that happened, and Hill stayed healthy and focused throughout the year, even when it looked like he was falling well off the pace. In the end, he not only reached his goal, but he did it with one day to spare.

Just in time to enjoy the arrival of a new year and some much deserved rest. Knowing Greg, he probably went skiing instead.

[Photo credit: Tommy Chandler/Backcountry.com]

Half a century atop El Capitan

Fifty years ago, Yosemite National Park’s El Capitan was climbed for the first time. Today, we celebrate that milestone with a continuation of the initial effort. Let’s face it, nobody will ever be first again, but you can still be part of the tradition.

Once upon a time, El Capitan was thought to be insurmountable, due in large part to a 3,000-foot granite cliff. Warren Harding assembled a small team and invested 47 days over more than a year in setting up climbing hardware and logistics to get to the top. The final drive took 12 days. This led to the glory of being first.

Today, the climb is considerably different.

Six months ago, two climbers made the summit in a hair more than 2 ½ hours. Modern equipment, advanced dietary technology and improved clothing have made this possible. That being said, the view from the top remains the view from the top.

Check out the video after the jump.

Argentine Doctors Study the Effects of Altitude While on the Mountain

Two Argentine doctors have conducted a unique medical study to examine the effects of altitude on the human body by taking their test subjects to a unique laboratory, the 6739 meter (22,109 feet) tall volcano named Mount Llullaillaco located in the Atacama Desert along the border of Argentina and Chile.

Dr. Leandro Seoane and Dr. Rolando Nervi took a team of climbers to Llullaillaco on January 18th of this year and began their ascent of the mountain, conducting various tests at predetermined spots along the route to the summit. Over the next nine days, they took blood pressure, heart and respitory readings, as well as blood oxygen saturation measurements. They also examined the climbers vision, took blood tests, and assessed the team for Acute Mountain Sickness. The baseline tests were conducted at Tolar Grande town, a village located at 3500 meters on the mountain, and then again at Base Camp (4900 meters), Camp 1 (5500 meters), Camp 2 (6000 meters), and then one final time at 6400 meters.

The results showed the body’s remarkable ability to adapt to the changing conditions on the mountain as climbers acclimatized and adapted to the lower levels of oxygen as they moved higher on the mountain. As they became accustomed to the environment, the lack of oxygen became less of an issue, and the climbers worked more efficiently at higher alittudes.
Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is also known as altitude sickness, and it can effect just about anyone that climbs above 2400 meters (7875 feet). The exact causes are as of yet unknown, which is why tests like this one are so important. We do know that it does relate to exposure to low air pressure at altitude. Symptoms include loss of appetite, light-headedness, insomnia, headaches and more. In its most extreme forms it can result in pulmonary edema that can, at high altitudes, result in death. Generally the only way to treat the condition is to move back down the mountain to lower altitudes and richer oxygen levels.

Mount Llullaillaco is the fourth tallest volcano in the world, and a challenging climb, but it doesn’t compare to the larger peaks such as Everest. A similar study to the ones performed by the Argentines has been conducted on the worlds tallest mountain over the past couple of years, recording similar results at even higher altitudes. That research study is known as the Caudwell Xtreme Everest project.

AMS continues to be a great concern for all climbers at altitude, and even for travelers who visit remote locations that also happen to be thousands of feet above sea level. But with continued studies like these two, we can hope to understand the causes and develop more effective treatments.