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NPO Poisk

НПО Поиск

A failed O2 system is life threatening




(POISK comments on

ExplorersWeb announcement about Summit Oxygen system failures)


We were very concerned when we received information from your site stating about numerous failures of the Summit Oxygen system in The Himalayas.


It is certainly a pity to see the alpinists interrupting their thoroughly prepared long-awaited ascent. There is no doubt however that the expedition must have had an experienced leader who managed to keep an emergency situation under control and make the only right decision.



However that may be, doctors and climbers are unanimous that failures of the oxygen system during mountaineering are highly dangerous.


In the history of alpinism, at its earliest stage it was stated that the moment additional oxygen input accidentally stops, climbers immediately face general asthenia.


At high altitudes (8500 - 8800 m), there were some cases when the oxygen system failure or shortage of its supply initiated painful sensations and climber's flat-out.

Members of a successful Italian expedition to Chogory (8611m), Lachedelli and Companioni reported, that they run out of oxygen at a height of 8300 m, soon it became hard to breathe, legs went feeble, tiredness grew, headache arose along with unpleasant buzzing in the ears (À.Dezio, 1959; G.Î.Di

rinfurt, 1957).


In 1955, Band and Braun, members of English expedition to Kanchendgangu (8597m) had used up all their oxygen supply while they were descending, soon afterwards climbers were attacked by a violent feebleness and felt uncertainty in movements; their downhill pace became slower and they had to stop for rest more frequently(G.Î.Dirinfurt, 1957; C. Evans, 1956). In 10 minutes after Hillary had taken oxygen mask off to fix his camera, he felt that despite frost protection his fingers could not bend and move. Two long breaths of oxygen helped to restore their perceptibility (G.Î.Dirinfurt, 1957).


It is necessary to remember that unexpected failure of the oxygen equipment or early depletion of oxygen supplies can cause the following negative effects of hypoxia:


- due to mental disturbances climbers can not adequately determine their physical potential and an actual situation. Sometimes the extreme cases of hypoxia affect human organism so deeply that it can lead to impairment of consciousness and death;


- deterioration in general condition and exercise performance brings to cancellations of ascent and at times the impossibility of descent or opportunity of climbers' salvation;


long-term staying at high altitudes without additional oxygen supply can affect climber's health even in spite of a favorable result. First or last, different lesions of central nervous system will certainly appear along with psychosomatic disorders in the form of impairment of memory, dysphrasia, and depression. The Himalayan climbers make mention of it quite often (C. Evans, 1956; Z. Ryn, 1979);


- ability to withstand frost declines and a high risk of limbs frostbite increases. It results from the spasm of peripheral blood vessels regardless relatively good heat shielding characteristics of climber's wear;


- climbing delay and operation at the breaking point of human capability result in depletion of buried reserves which may be crucial in the changing circumstances of atmospheric disturbances, climbers' state of health and route conditions.


That's the reason why you will need a real Guru for your expedition!


To avoid all above mentioned troubles during mountaineering use oxygen system proved to be reliable in service!


According to POISK altitude physiologists, usage of oxygen system during high-altitude mountain climbing should become mandatory as it is effective in the following aspects:


- it provides more safety for the ascent due to the improvement in climbers' capacity for physical activity, clear thinking, ability of adequate estimation of their physical potential, true situation and the actual state of the other members of expedition.

- it helps to increase climbing speed and climbing distance per day, and hence shortens duration of climbers stay in the extreme conditions of high-altitude as well as the overall expedition period;


- it reduces climbers' fatigue, contributes to restorative processes during the rest-time. Some physiologic indices (such as breathing, pulse, blood pressure, heat regulation, etc.) and sleep become normal. More than once high - altitude alpinists pointed out that having started on inhaling the oxygen, they fell asleep more quickly and on the contrary, when the oxygen supply run out they immediately woke up and began to freeze;


- climbing is no longer just a cruel work at the breaking point of human capability, it also can be pleasurable.


Some time ago our doctors already expressed their negative opinion about Summit's system of oxygen supply, regardless any possible cases of operational failure that arose afterwards (see our site info).


It was bizarre that after the tests which hopefully had been conducted, there were any fails at all. Generally, climbers' equipment is to be tested over and over again on the specific test benches, in altitude chambers and in the mountains. The complete test of such product should take at least 2 years before coming on to the market.


Today we recommend our climbers to be very careful in choosing oxygen system and give their preference to RELIABILITY.

Use climbers' equipment repeatedly tested by your predecessors and in which they have their confidence, which had shown its best quality and proved to be fail-safe in the Himalayas.