The Beacon School Leaderboard 09/05

St Benedict's pupil tackles Everest

Published on isbi School News dated Tuesday 7th of May 2013

Twelve year old Tom Mythen, a pupil at St Benedict's School, Ealing, has been trekking up Everest as one of the participants of the 2013 Young Everest Study. The study involved a group of twelve healthy children, including one of Tom's older sisters, trekking up to Namche Bazaar over a period of about a week and being tested at regular intervals. Tom's father, Professor Monty Mythen, ran a laboratory in Namche Bazaar, which is a height of 3,500m. After the medical part was over Tom and his older brother and sisters then trekked higher and Tom managed to get to the original Everest base camp, where the final buildings are. He had hoped to go further to the new Everest Base Camp at a height of 5300m but had to stop due to high altitude symptoms.
This was Tom's second visit to Everest, having taken part in 2007 in the first Xtreme Everest Young Medical Study, when he was only six years old! It was an amazing experience for Tom: 'The trekking was really tiring and a few times I thought I was going to collapse. At times it was quite scary as the path was narrow and we had to cross on the top of high cliffs. We didn't have ropes so I just had to trust my sense of balance. The porters carried our rucsacs and they were quite amazing. Without them we would not have made it. Looking back I am glad that I did it but, at the time, I thought the best bit was coming down!'
The study, run by Xtreme Everest, involved looking at how we adapt to low levels of oxygen (as patients need to do on intensive care units). In order to simulate the critical conditions of intensive care, the team went to Everest, the world's highest mountain. The oxygen levels on the summit are a third of those at sea level - similar to those experienced by patients in intensive care. The children underwent a day of testing at sea level and a day at 3,500m with testing each morning as they trekked.
Xtreme Everest, coordinated by UCL's Centre for Altitude, Space and Extreme Environmental Medicine, is a dedicated team of intensive care doctors, nurses and scientists. They conduct experiments on themselves and other volunteers at high altitude in order to develop novel therapies to improve the survival rates of their patients.
Further information about Xtreme Everest can be found at
St Benedict's pupil tackles Everest - Photo 1St Benedict's pupil tackles Everest - Photo 2
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