|I decided that Sydney Spider should be introduced to an eagle. Sydney
got on a rock to view the eagle but before I could take a photo of them
admiring each other the eagle decided that Sydney Spider might actually
be rather a tasty meal and grabbed him! Sydney said later:
"I can tell you it was a very unpleasant experience. Before I could
escape, the beautiful eagle grabbed me in his beak and in a moment I was
pinned on the ground in his claws and he was trying to rip my legs off!
Luckily I am a tough old thing and none of them came off (even if they
did, everybody knows I can grow them back again). Once he realized I am
made of stern stuff he grabbed me in his beak again and tried to swallow
me whole! Richard wasn't being much use all this time, just leaping
around shouting "no no no" a lot, which didn't have the slightest effect
on the eagle. Luckily he did come to my rescue in the end though, just
as I was about to be swallowed whole he grabbed the eagle round the neck
so I wouldn't go down its throat and I was spat out. I can tell you I
was away out of range as fast as my eight legs would carry me, and apart
from a few bruises utterly unscathed. Angelo told me later that the
eagle was disappointed to have missed such a tasty looking meal, but
otherwise quite unharmed."
The weather forecast is looking good for 'the real thing' tomorrow, so
we were up at 5 again today for another test flight. Yet again it was
very cloudy, and raining a bit too, so we went for breakfast instead.
We effectively have two weather systems to cope with on our Over Everest
flight which makes things very difficult. There is the weather in the
valleys which is so local it is more or less unforecastable, we
therefore will only fly early morning when it is relatively calm and
daren't fly at all unless the valley is more or less completely clear of
cloud. If it isn't it can put all our potential landing places in a fog
in minutes. There is then the high level winds; the intertropical
jetstream is a sort of cylinder or 'snake' of wind up to 250 Km/h which
circulates the globe, it weaves around like a snake, sometimes it is
overhead here, sometimes in Tibet and sometimes in India, it has been
more or less overhead Everest for the last two weeks. Normally
jetstreams only affect airliners but Everest is sufficiently high that
the jetstream actually hits it. With our slow speed of 60 - 80 Km/h we
definitely don't want to be anywhere near such winds as we would end up
going backwards into China at great speed. We are getting daily
forecasts of these high level winds by email from Adventureweather.com .
and you can see them on this site.
The jetstream is forecast to move off today to Tibet for a few days
leaving the summit with winds of 10 - 15 M/sec which is what we need, we
can only hope that the valley is clear tomorrow morning.
This afternoon we heard that eight climbers made it to the Summit of
Everest today, the first of this season and perhaps an indication that
the upper winds forecast is correct, climbers need relatively low winds
Barty and I ran a final test on all my kit today. It takes about an hour
for me to get dressed, when we are done I am more like a spaceman than a
microlight pilot. This is how it goes. Rig machine. Open blue barrel
containing all flying kit on dry tarpaulin. I am wearing t shirt,
longjohns, trousers and one pair of thin socks. Fit nasal catheter for
emergency oxygen system, over this goes my Gerbings heated suit, socks,
trousers and jacket. Neck warmer and fleece and then into my The North
Face suit. This is not so much an item of clothing as an engineering
marvel, I have tested it without the heated suit to -40c and stayed
warm. We have fitted out the suit with radio, and radio batteries in
the pockets to keep them warm and I have a sort of umbilical cord with
intercom/radio helmet lead, PTT button lead, intercom recorder lead,
antenna lead, heated suit power lead, heated gloves power lead and
emergency oxygen hose. I then don plastic boots, rather like ski boots.
The pair I am using actually went to the Summit of Everest on Matt
Dickinson in 1996. Then a thin balaclava helmet and heated gloves and
outer gloves. Finally my helmet and primary oxygen mask is fitted, the
demand regulator (ex RAF Phantom F4) is supported on a string round my
neck and plugged in to my main oxygen supply which is a 10 litre carbon
fibre wound aluminium bottle inflated to 200 bar which should give me
enough oxygen for about 2 1/2 hours. My mask, an 'MBU-12' as used in
many USAF aircraft is necessarily a tight fit and rather uncomfortable
is clipped onto my helmet and finally the visor is closed, a large
neoprene flap stuck to the visor is then fitted around the mask and
tucked into my suit and velcroed onto my helmet so there are absolutely
no 'leaks' of super-cold air onto my face which could cause frostbite.
With all this on I really fel like a spaceman! (It is a good idea to go
to the loo before starting to put all this stuff on too!)
All we can hope for is clear weather tomorrow....