Bear Grylls -GKN Mission Everest Success
are due to Bear and especially to Gilo for his incredible achievement in
building the high-altitude parajet unit that carried Bear higher
than the summit of Everest.
Both support treks managed to see the epic flight, with the GKN staff
trek at the team's base camp for the flight. The GKN staff were not
merely observers of the event, full use was made of their
engineering experience in the final hectic hours before take-off!
Read Bear's account of their flight on the
GKN Mission Everest site.
Take a look at Gilo's company -
Parajet Ltd - manufacturer of the Mission Everest machines.
Xtreme Everest - The finest Base Camp power system in the Khumbu
While leading Bear's support treks Andy and Dave dropped in on the
labs in Namche Bazzar and Pheriche. The heater boxes we
built for the team have been in constant use since they arrived in
April, and the electrical power systems have made the team the envy of
all the other expeditions at base camp. The Xtreme-everest power
system is reliable, able to handle high peak loads and avoids the
voltage fluctuations and spikes common on generator systems that damage
so much sensitive electronic equipment.
Come ďon mission?with Dave and Andy
Dave and Andy are leading support treks for Bear Grylls's
GKN Mission Everest
project. Bear Grylls and Giles Cardozo plan to fly over Everest in motorised paragliders . Andyís trek is exclusively for GKN staff, but anyone interested
can come on Daveís trek, provided that they are in good health and of
Daveís group will be trekking to the teamís base camp and spending
some time with Bear and Gilo as they prepare for their flight. The trek
will continue to Everest base camp and will act as independent observers
for the flight as it passes over the group on its way to Everest.
Daveís trek leaves on the 1st of May, and returns on the 18th. Full
details are available from the High
and Wild website.
As Andy pointed out ?ďthereís never been a safer time to visit the
Khumbu ?the place will be absolutely crawling with doctors?
More testing for GKN mission Everest
Gilo has returned to the chamber to compare various oxygen systems
that he and Bear hope to use on their
GKN Mission Everest attempt. Testing the
system took two days in the altitude chamber. On the first session Andy
Elson (responsible for the safe running of the test) wore one of his
ďDiluter Demand?oxygen systems, the ďgold standard?for high altitude
flight, while Gilo wore the simpler and lighter ďTop Out?system. We
raised the altitude in the chamber in steps where both Gilo and Andy did
some mild exercise to simulate the kind of workload the pilots will see
on their Everest flight and the Oxygen saturation of their blood was
measured. Unfortunately Gilo developed the early signs of decompression
sickness (the bends) at 23 000 ft and the test had to be stopped before
data at higher altitudes could be gathered.
On the second test, four days later, Andy and Gilo breathed 100%
oxygen for two hours before depressurising the chamber. This period on
100% oxygen washes all of the dissolved nitrogen out of the body and
reduces the risk of getting decompression sickness. The duo
remained on 100% oxygen until the chamber reached 26 000 ft when Gilo
started using the Top Out oxygen system allowing us to gather data about
the systemís performance at rest and during mild exercise at 26 000 and
30 000 ft.
DC Power Distribution boxes for the Caudwell Xtreme Everest team
With time running short before their departure the
Caudwell Xtreme Everest
team needed some equipment made in a hurry! They needed some electrical
distribution boxes to connect their supplementary generators, battery
racks and solar cells to the Victron inverter/charger units that supply
the 240-Volt AC power to their labs. The boxes also include a Victron
battery monitor so that the lab team can tell how much charge is stored
in their batteries and adjust their use of the supplementary generators
During the course of their expedition Xtreme-Everest anticipate using
8000 litres of fuel to power their fixed labs, all of it carried up
through the Khumbu by porters and yaks.
Keeping the Xtreme-Teamís equipment toasty warm
During the 2006 rehearsal trip to Cho Oyu the team had problems
getting computers and other equipment to work in the early mornings
after a night with temperatures as low as ?0C. The idea of spending the night with
a computer or a gas analyser in their sleeping bag didnít find
favour with the lab staff.
We had a lightweight box custom made by Trifibre for each lab. We
kitted out the boxes with insulation and a temperature
controlled heater mat. The boxes will allow the sensitive
equipment to spend the night warm and snug - but without getting too
cosy with the team.
Optimising the Generators for the Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition
The Xtreme Everest team will be setting up fixed science labs to
support their expedition at Namche
Bazaar (3440 m). Dingboche (4410 m), Everest base camp (4410 m)
and at the Western Cwm on Mount Everest (6200m). The electrical power for the labs is
provided by a combination of solar cells and Honda portable generators.
The team predicted that the power output of the generators would fall at
increased altitude. By test running the generators in the Hypobaric
chamber, the team were able to optimise the fuel to air mixture for high
altitude running and to find out exactly how much power the generators
would produce at each location.
Although the team do not plan to use the generators above the Western
Cwm, everyone was curious to know just how high the generators would operate. We
found out that it is possible to operate a Honda portable
generator on Everestís summit - just donít expect it to boil your kettle!
First Somerset then the Summit
Testing the GKN Mission Everest Expedition parajet in the large
Andyís chamber seems to have become the popular destination for
Everest teams before they set off for base camp! When Giles Cardozo, the
designer of the GKN Mission Everest parajet, needed to test his engine,
Andy was able to provide the ideal facility and as a bonus ďGilo?gets
the benefit of Andyís Everest flying experience.
The parajet is mounted in the chamber on a custom made frame that
allows the chamberís data logging equipment to record the motorís
thrust. Other sensors record the chamberís temperature and pressure as
well as critical temperatures on the engine. Additional mechanical and
electrical connections are fed through ports into the chamberís control
room to allow the engine to be started and controlled remotely. They
allow data from the engine management system to be displayed on and
updated from the control room computers.
Testing the parajet in the chamber allows progress to be made much
faster than a test-flying programme would allow. The use of the chamber
allows multiple tests to be made per day, a lot more objective data can
be gathered and thereís no need to wait for flight permissions or the
Gilo and his parajet are expected to be regular visitors over the
next couple of months as we help him optimise his motor for high
See more pictures and video on the
GKN Mission Everest Website
(look in the Photo Galleries and Video Blog).
Simulating Everest in Somerset
Equipment testing and calibration for the Caudwell Xtreme Everest
Members of the Caudwell Xtreme Everest expedition have been using Andyís
altitude chamber to calibrate their equipment in preparation for their
expedition in the spring of 2007. As the equipment cannot be operated
remotely, Andy Elson and Dave Boxall kitted out the team with oxygen
masks and provided safety cover. The team used their metabolic
calibrator to test and calibrate the Cortex gas analysers and the blood
gas machines that underpin a large portion of the expeditionís
The team were in the chamber for four days simulating altitudes as
high as Everest base camp (18 000 ft). They plan to return in February
once equipment modifications are complete in order to to finish their test