Medex Newsletter, 16

May 2004

It’s very pleasant to be writing this newsletter in the comfort of Sally’s sister’s hotel in Obergurgl in the heart of the Austrian Tirol. Last week we spent ski mountaineering in the Stubai and it was great to arrive here by ski. We are having an enforced rest as Sally has managed to prang her calf muscle whilst crossing the road after a hair-raising descent of a steep and icy gulley filled with avalanche debris! Next week we are hoping to ski the Wildspitz (3,774m) but, looking at the way Sally is walking at the moment, it looks a bit unlikely. (It was successfully achieved and thoroughly to be recommended, vying with the Vallee Blanche in every respect). We also poked our noses into the Silvertta and were so impressed that we are determined to return.

Medex Membership

First a gentle reminder to all those who have not yet re-joined Medex. The last subscription period ended on 31st December 2003 and the new subscription period runs for four years and costs just £45. I have included at the end of this newsletter a list of all those who have already signed up and so, if your name is not on the list, your membership has expired. If you do wish to re-join then please drop us a line with a cheque or make a bank transfer into the Medex account:

Medex 2003 Expedition Report is now available on the web as well as a big selection of digital photos. An illustrated version using high quality medium format pictures is now available on CD in a print ready format for those that want it. The file is too huge for putting on the web. If you would like a CD copy of this please drop me a line. Please include a cheque payable to Medex for £10 to cover some of the production and distribution costs. For those that have already ordered, their CD will be available soon.


ISMM Aug 12-16 2004: The 6th World Congress of The International Society for Mountain Medicine at Xining in China,  followed by the Lhasa meeting 18-20th August. For details visit: . I understand that there have been some reservations about staging the meeting in Tibet but that it is fully supported by Tibetans in exile including the Dalai Lama.

Hypoxia - February 2005 to be held in either Lake Louise or Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Mountain Medicine Diploma and Plas y Brenin Courses: Both are continuing to evolve and develop. The current Diploma Course is fully subscribed and there is a waiting list for the next intake. The Diploma Faculty has become a particularly energetic and resourceful group with a healthy online dialogue. It is very impressive to see exactly how much time, skill and enthusiasm members are contributing to the Diploma cause. Regular updates will be placed on the Medex Website.

Medex Antarctica 2006

We have now fixed the dates for the Antarctic Expedition and there have been some slight changes to our itinerary. We will now be joining Pelagic at Ushuaia on 5/1/2006 instead of Puerto Williams. This makes our international flight connections and our freighting easier as Ushuaia has an international airport. Our charter ends on 16th February 2006.

As previously described we plan to explore the Antarctic Peninsular by boat, ski and kayak venturing as far south as ice allows. Well beyond, it is hoped, the reach of commercial trips.

For those coming with us to Antarctica we are delighted to be able to invite them to join us, as our guests, next June (2005) on the inaugural cruise of our new boat to the Norwegian Fjords and beyond. This will be something of a dress rehearsal for the trip South as we will be sailing and ski touring our way as far north as time allows. We think that this will be an ideal opportunity for our team to strengthen its skills and cement its bonds. Subject to space we would be delighted if other Medex members felt able join us on our new boat which is currently being built in Sweden.

The Antarctic Philosophy: Quite a lot of people have contacted us about Antarctica and have expressed their interest in the trip but have been worried about their own abilities to cope with the trip. We have already described a likely itinerary (now on our website) but we thought it may be a good idea to spend a few paragraphs describing the basic philosophy of the trip so that people can be quite sure of what they are entering into.

The Antarctic trip, like all of our other trips, is not a full on mountaineering expedition, though those of us that wish to, will be attempting to ski and climb our way to the top of some remote and beautiful peaks, the majority as day expeditions from the boat. On any trip such as this the getting there will be the main part of the experience and the mountain days will be only a small percentage of the 42 days that we are underway. The most important qualifications as far as we are concerned is the ability to savour and enjoy as many as possible of the unique opportunities that this voyage presents. We will spend time pottering around in kayaks, zodiacs, diving, spotting the wildlife and photographing the scenery. For those not wishing to attempt the mountains they will be able to continue these pastimes whilst we are on the hill. There will inevitably be bad weather days when we will be pinned down at anchor with cabin fever and, of course, the sea sick days on the passage in the furious 50’s.

It is far more important that people are able to enjoy the thrill and the challenge of the trip as a whole. We would discourage those that have a pure focus on peaks as we think that they may well be frustrated by the trip. Those that wish to climb with us must be competent ski-mountaineers but the climbing is, by no means, compulsory. Whilst it would be good if everyone knew how to sail and navigate the boat there is no need as the boat will be professionally skippered and crewed throughout. Those that wish to learn more about sailing before they go are very welcome to join us in Norway in 2005. The one unavoidable qualification unfortunately is the ability to pay the required £9,000 for the trip ex Ushuaia.

Timetable: Many have now expressed an interest in this Expedition and as we are now just over 18 months from departure we need to be taking firm bookings. If, having read the itinerary and the notes above, you feel that this really is the trip for you then please now write to us requesting the booking forms. The completed booking forms need to be returned to us by August 1st together with a cheque for the deposit. It may be that the trip is over subscribed in which case we will form a waiting list but will not cash the deposit cheques until a place has been confirmed. If the trip is over subscribed we will have to operate some form of selection in order to put together the most compatible team possible. It is therefore very important that we get to know as much as is possible about you so please do feel free to give us a ring or drop in on us in Shrewsbury, Hyssington (BBQ) or Orkney. No final decisions will be taken until we have had time to process the bookings in August.

Medex West Nepal 2007

Just a reminder that the next major medex Expedition will be to West Nepal in Spring 2007. Provisional routes and maps are posted on our website. As before Nepal remains locked in the ongoing struggle between Maoists and Government and there seems to be no signs of any abatement.    We continue to monitor the situation but it is very fluid and much can change in the next three years. Updates will be included in future newsletters.

Medex Ski trip to Chamonix (March 2004)

We had a fantastic time on the first Medex ski trip despite the broken bones. About 25 people turned up and we effectively took over the Hotel. It snowed for all four days and the powder conditions were excellent. One of the highlights was the excellent descent of the Vallee Blanche with powder snow all the way.

Hyssington Summer BBQ 10th July 2004

Once again we are inviting everyone to our annual Mid Wales BBQ.  All are welcome. Camping is free. Please bring food for the BBQ and something to drink. We have given up trying to co-ordinate what people bring for the BBQ so just turn up with what you fancy eating. Those that came last year and contributed to the Church Roof Appeal will be delighted to know that the Village has succeeded in raising £29,000 and work begins in the New Year.



Old Dungeon Ghyll in the English Lake District October 2004

October 16th - 17th 2004, Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, Lake District Weekend. This is the annual Medex event We normally arrive on the Friday night, spend Saturday on the hill with dinner in the evening.  B&B accommodation can be booked direct with the Hotel (tel: 015394 37272 and camping is available nearby.  If you want to attend the dinner on the Saturday evening this must be booked direct with Medex as places are limited.  A cheque for £28 will secure your place for dinner, made payable to Medex and sent to the Pinfold, Hyssington, Montgomery, Powys

This is going to be a rather special ODG as it's the TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF OUR ASCENT OF EVEREST (summitted by Charlie Hornsby and Roddy Kirkwood on 11th October 1994!) and we are going to try and get as many people as possible together from the 1994 Expedition. There will be a presentation from a number of the original climbing team with accounts of the ascent and the roller coaster that has become Medex.

People News

Richard Parris has sent in this. "Lovely to hear from you - I have just returned from a great 7 months in the Northern Territories and am settling into a Locum Consultancy in Bolton. I know news re my Consultany is not Medex Newsworthy but you may like to print details about Altrincham's tussle for the final promotion spot to the new Conference - I am sure all readers will be fascinated by this and make the newsletter a success.

I hope to catch up with you and Sally soon, and hope you are both well. I have tried emailing various members of Group2 with no replies (!) - I look forward to hearing about them in the Newsletter."

Mireille Baart is looking for a PhD placement and has sent in this note. "January 29th I graduated for my MSc "Human health and nutrition" with specialization physiology. As you know, for one of my graduation projects I did high altitude physiology research on the expedition (the heart rate variability project). Now I have graduated I am searching for a research position, preferable a PhD, which is associated with high altitude physiology. In Holland, as you will understand, there are no possibilities for that kind of research.

Could you please post a message in the newsletter if people could give me information which will help me to find such a research position. I would like to have information about researchers and research institutes, anywhere in the world, where research concerning altitude physiology is performed. I already have some interesting contacts, however funding is a problem. Therefore, I am also happy if people could give me information about where and how I could apply for funding." People may send the information to

Ken Stewart has sent this in from Malaysia. "Nice to hear from Medex in Malaysia.

Sally and I are still here enjoying life in the remote NE and very different state of Kelantan. My main mission is in teaching the undergrads and preparing the postgrads for their specialist exam in O&G. Good fun - they are all very cheery, appreciative and work hard with very good results. The hospital is big with about 1000 beds and pretty well equipped. The medicine is a bit different from home and closer to African medicine as I remember it in Zimbabwe - at times scary but with better facilities.. There's really good diving off the coast at the Perhentian Islands which I would recommend to any who are visiting these parts - so we spend our spare time doing that and snorkelling but there are also jungle climbs kept cooler by standing under the numerous waterfalls and fairly primitive people still to see who live deep in the jungle and hunt with blow pipes. We also managed up Mount Kinabaloo (13600ft) the highest between the Himalaya and Papua New Guinea and interesting to find Scottish winter weather at the top. To anyone going up, I would recommend 2 nights on the hill. There's so much to see and also we were all a bit legless coming down. I look forward to seeing you at the ODG reunion in October."

Lisa Hancock is off to Antarctica: "I thought people might be interested to know that I am now working for the British Antarctic Survey and will be going down South in the next austral summer. I'm in Plymouth at the moment doing the 6 month preliminary training. This involves all sorts of interesting things, for example taking your own x-rays, doing physio, instant blood transfusions, plastering, bandaging, DIY appendicectomy! Having learnt a wide range of things I shall be on the ship James Clark Ross from September for 9 months. We sail from Hull to the Falkland Islands and then I shall be the ships doctor whilst we do various science tours in the Southern oceans, visiting South Georgia, Rothera and Halley for re-supply. There are four of us being trained and the other three will be over-wintering at the three bases I just mentioned. If anybody wants to visit we'll be pleased to see you!"

Sally Penghilly has sent in this: "Martin completed the Everest Marathon, came 2nd out of the westerners & enjoyed the experience. It was good to see his photographs of the places I'd trekked to with "Everest Group 5" but Its amazing how much development there's been over there in the last 10 years."

Mary Selby and her husband have taken a large school group to the Annapurnas this April and it will be interesting to hear how the political situation is there at this time.

Sally and I are going to be kayaking, climbing and diving in the Orkney Islands for a couple of weeks in June and would be delighted if anyone wants to venture this far north to join us. Damien Flynn is going to be guiding us around the wrecks of the German Fleet WW1 in Scapa Flow and, if Chris Comerie’s shoulder has recovered from the ski trip, he will be attempting to get us up the Old Man of Hoy. In the summer we are off to California to walk the John Muir Trail finishing in Yosemite with some climbing – but not El Cap!

Diana and David Turton have had a baby boy, born in early January


Alex Dubowitz was born at 03.59 am on Wed March 24 2004; 6lbs 13 oz (3100g), 20 inches long,


Angela and Roy Hilton have sent in this: "We had a very good holiday in Chile in January visiting the Chilean Lake District about 600 miles south of Santiago first and then Chilean Patagonia. In the Lake District we stayed near Volcan Osorno and hiked onto its shoulder which gave us excellent views of Lago Todos Santos and Volcan Tronador on the Chile Argentine border. Osorno is a perfect cone shaped volcano like Mt Fugi at 2600 metres which can be climbed by experienced mountaineers. We had very good weather there which was very fortunate as it can be very wet rather like our Lake District. However this produced hordes of large flies called tabanos which did not bite but buzzed around the head in great numbers. Fortunately their numbers lessened as we gained height on the climb onto the flank of the volcano. They only fly in warm sunny weather from mid December to the end of January so February might be a better time for that area.

We then flew south to Punta Arenas which is situated on the Straits of Magellan opposite Tierra del Fuego. From there we drove north for 150 miles to the Torres de Paine National Park a beautiful area of mountains ( the southern end of the Andes ) lakes and glaciers. The highlight here was a hike to the top of a boulder moraine for fantastic views of the huge granite monoliths of the Torres de Paine ( Towers of Paine )situated above a glacier and lake. We also saw some interesting wildlife with close views of Andean Condors, Guanacos (wild llamas characteristic of Patagonia ) and Magellanic penguins.

Closer to home we have just returned from Andalucia where we were delighted to find a beautiful unspoilt area of limestone mountains called the Sierra de Grazalema less than 2 hours drive from the Costa del Sol. There are good trails for hiking with few people and attractive white hill villages to explore.We climbed El Torreon at 1650 metres the highest peak in this natural park.It was a steep ascent on a well defined path but we were rewarded with fabulous views in all directions including snow covered Mulhacen the highest mountain in Spain to the north west of us in the far distance. Mulhacen brought back memories of my first personal experience of AMS when we climbed it about 14 years ago when I misdiagnosed the nausea I was getting as an impending stomach bug. Looking forward to meeting you again later in the summer."

Paul Richards has sent in this note from Jamie Andrew about his new book. "Just wanted to let you know that my book, Life and Limb, is finally published today.  It seems like a long, long time ago that I first sat down to write it but finally it’s actually on the shelves.  Anna and I have been too busy with little Iris to arrange a proper launch party but hopefully we’ll sort something out in the future. The book is available from all good bookstores and online retailers such as Amazon.  Alternatively you can buy them at a discounted rate directly from me if you want or would like a dedication, etc.  My website is still under construction but you should be able to order the book there shortly. Please feel free to pass this message on to anyone else you think might be interested. Finally, if you do read the book, I hope you enjoy it!"

Ann Luxmoore has moved to: 5 Barrack View, Richmond, North Yorkshire DL10 4YU.

Tel 01748 826250

Annabel Nickol has moved to: 4 Home Farm Cottages, Bletchingdon, Oxfordshire OX5 3DD tel 01869 351841. She extends an invitation to everyone to check it out and stay with her.


Science brief update

Alex Truesdell has sent in this: "I obviously missed the expedition, as a result of my month with Chris in London (and our opportunity to mine the Makalu data as well as repeat some sea level and acute hypoxic experiments) I've been able to work on the data and present the research in 2 venues thus far:

1. A.G. Truesdell, N. Richardson, O. Kemp, M.P.Grocott, C.B. Wolff. "Regional Partitioning of Oxygen Delivery in Submaximal Exercise at High Altitude." Presented at the American College of Physicians Regional Associates Meeting, Washington, DC.

2. A.G. Truesdell, N. Richardson, O. Kemp, M.P.Grocott, C.B. Wolff. "Regional Partitioning of Oxygen Delivery in Submaximal Exercise at High Altitude." Presented at Pushing The Envelope VI: Medicine in Challenging Environments and the 25th Operational Aeromedical Problems Course, Galveston, TX.