Among Everest and high altitude climbers, the revolutionary TopOut oxygen delivery system is becoming very popular. Designed and built by Ted Atkins, a former RAF Aerosystems Engineering Officer and an experienced high altitude climber, Ted summitted Everest in 2004 while testing the prototype.
The expedition teams who have climbed mountains using TopOut (among them the noted Jagged Globe team), have found the design of the mask to be much better, offering a better line of vision unlike the cumbersome old version, with an improved oxygen delivery. TopOut has a working bag that allows you to inhale a higher concentration of oxygen for every breath. The mask ensures that every last molecule of oxygen that leaves the cylinder is processed through the lungs. There is no wastage of oxygen. A good supply of oxygen not only helps you move faster but enables you to think more clearly which is crucial in decision making. Instead of the usual 12 or 14 hours, climbers have summitted Everest in 8 hours using the TopOut masks. To read the testimonials by climbers you can browse TopOut’s website www.topout.co.uk.
Explore Himalaya shall be using TopOut masks for its expeditions to the Everest and other high altitude mountains.
The mask comes is a convenient carry bag ( Pics 1& 2).It consists of a mask, a silicon hose or pipe (Pic 3)that is fitted to the oxygen bottle ( with the regulator) and a plastic canister with a reservoir bag inside, that is fitted to the mask. See Pic 4 to see the whole system fitted together.
(i)The mask: The mask is made of silicon. It does not harden like ordinary rubber when the temperature drops. It remains soft and flexible always. The mask comes in two sizes small and medium. It has a snug fit, ensuring that no oxygen from the bottle goes out in the atmosphere and thus wasted. The seal around the mask (Pic 6) ensures that no oxygen is wasted. There are holes on the masks for the valves. When you are breathing out, the moisture from your breath makes the inside of the mask moist. If you take off the mask to radio or to talk, the cold air might make the valve freeze. The oxygen keeps coming in but you will notice a resistance while breathing out. If that happens you can do three things:
(a )Just blow hard for a few seconds and the valve will move, or
(b)Break the seal at the side of the mask with your finger or thumb so that you are now exhaling through the side of the mask. In a short while your warm breath will have freed the valve.
(c)If steps a & b do not work, you remove the cover off and move the valve (Pics 7 & 8 ) with your finger.
The holes meant for the valves are interchangeable. It means that if one is right handed, one can fit the valve meant for the oxygen hose on the left side keeping the right hand side free and ‘unhampered’ to work on (and vice versa for the left handed).
The mask is washable( just wash with warm soapy water and rinse it thoroughly with clean water and it is germ free!) and reusable.
The Ambient Air Valve: This has a cover(Pic 5,right hand side) to stop it getting covered with the hood of your suit. The cover can be rotated so that the air can come in from any direction. The cover can also be easily removed, this will ease the flow of air into the mask.
The flow of inoming breath can be eased by first removing the small white washer in the centre of the valve(pic 7). This washer is there to stiffen the valve to ensure that the resevoir bag empties first. If you remove the washer ensure that you are still drawing oxygen properly.
We all breath differently so Topout is built so that it can suit you, tune it how you want it.
There are adjustable straps or harnesses and face seal (Pic 9) to attach the mask firmly to your face.
To detach the mask from the straps, simply clip the face seal off. The mask comes apart easily.
(ii)The reservoir Bottle or Canister: We breathe in a cycle of 3 parts: 2 of these are breathing out. While using supplementary oxygen, the gas is flowing constantly. With the old system there was no way to store the extra O2 that was flowing into the mask. It was flowing out into the atmosphere & thus wasted. Now TopOut has a working reservoir bag. When you breathe out the oxygen comes and collects in the reservoir bag. That allows you to inhale a higher concentration of oxygen during expiration, as the first part of your breath goes deep into the lungs for effective processeing by the avioli. When the resevoir bag empties the ambient air valve opens for the second stage of the breath. Thus lower oxygenated air fill the upper respiratory tract where no oxygen exchange takes place. As it is inside a clear plastic canister you can see the bag expand. The bag inside is very fine and has no resistance to the flow of oxygen. (Pic10)
There are vents at the botttom of the bottle (Pic11) to let out the air inside the bottle when the bag expands. If there were no vents, the air inside bottle would be compressing the bag thus trying to stop the bag from working. The canister should be clipped to your clothing or sack with the caribiner(Pic 12). It could be placed in a pocket or inside the suit if preferred but be aware that there are vents in the bottom which must be kept clear for the system to work effectively.
There is a danger that if the wet mask is removed and the oxygen turned off that the oxygen valve could freeze closed. When the oxygen is reconnected if the valve cannot move the bag will burst. This does not stop the system working. Now you cannot see the bag moving but oxygen is still being delivered.
(iii)The pipe or hose: The pipe (Pic 10, the pink hose) is made of silicon. It is very thick and very strong. It has laminated layers and it does not close. Even if the pipe is pressed or nipped it continues to deliver oxygen. In Pic14, you can see the valve that attaches the mask to the hose.
N.B: For those who can read and understand English, the instructions on how to use the mask are given on the plastic canister (Pic 13).
Q1. If the reservoir bag bursts will the oxygen supply be cut off?
Ans: No, even if the reservoir bag bursts, the oxygen will still be delivered to the mask. You will still be able to breathe in oxygen.
Q2.What stops the mask from working?
Ans: There is only one thing that can stop the mask from working and that is you have to turn the regulator off or cut off the oxygen pipe.
Q3.What happens if I take off the mask to radio?
Ans: In the high mountains, if you take off the mask the cold air could freeze the valves. Exhaled air is heavily laden with moisture. This air has to pass over the outlet valve and must make it wet. This is not a problem while wearing the mask, as your warm breathe will keep the valve working .If you remove the mask the valve could freeze onto its seat. If this happens you will notice a resistance while breathing out. Just break the side seal for about 20 seconds to a min and it will move. Or in the unlikely event of this not working, you can remove the front cover (it simply clips off) and physically free the valve with a finger. Simply break the face seal of the mask for a few moments to allow exhaled air out and your warm breath will soon free the valve.
Q4.If I lose one of the valves, will the mask work?
Ans: Yes, the mask will still be working. You will still be able to breathe in oxygen. But there has been no report of valves getting lost.
The system ‘fails safe’ apart from cutting the delivery tube the system will always deliver oxygen, if at a lesser level of efficiency.
Before use, check that the valves are in place and free to move i.e. not iced up.
You will be asked to give a talk or talks when you get back. Your mask; the one used to summit Everest with, is a great ‘prop’ at your talk. It is something that people can touch, unlike your photos. Ask to take your mask home with you, you can buy it. It is too late to think of it when the invitations come in!
Jamie McGuiness of Project Himalaya shall be leaving Kathmandu for Lukla along with his 12 member Everest expedition group. The group’s plan was to climb Everest from Tibet side .But as the route was closed, they had to turn to divert their attention towards the southern side. With permit in hand and with lots of ‘good lucks’ & ‘good wishes’ the team shall be leaving tomorrow (on the 07th April). They shall be flying from Kathmandu to Lukla and then to Namche ,Pangboche and finally to Base Camp, from where the real ascent will begin.
The names of the PH Everest Expedition 2008 are:
1.James Stuart Mcguinness-Expedition leader (New Zealand)
2.David G.Cole (Australia)
3. Mr.Raphael Gernez (USA)
4. Gineth Soto-Buturla (Costa Rica)
5. Andrew J.Falgate (UK)
6.Timothy P.Burns (USA)
7. Mr.Martin W.Schmidt (New Zealand)
8.Anselm B.Murphy (Ireland)
9.James D.Oleary (Ireland)
10. Boguslaw A.Magrel (Poland)
11.Slawomir Maksymilian (Poland)
12.Giovannina Cantale (Netherland) will be trekking with the group up to the Base Camp only.
Peak Freaks Everest Expedition Set Up Base Camp- Tim Rippel Leads The Team
Tim Rippel of Peak Freaks Expedition left Kathmandu for Lukla on April 1st.At the time of writing this blog he has already reached Base Camp.The members in his team consists of
1.Timothy L.Rippel- Expedition leader (Canada)
2.Michael S.Mortensen (USA)
3.Sultan M.A. Al Ismaili (Oman)- first climber from Oman to try for an Everest summit
6. Nabil Lodey (UK) – an international lawyer from the UK who is raising money for UNICEF in his push for the summit.
7. Faruq Saad H.Alzuman (Saudi Arabia)- first Saudi Arabian on a mission to summit Mt. Everest
8. Saad A.Naseer(USA) – attempting a 21 day speed ascent from Kathmandu to summit and back.
9.George LaMoureaux(USA) – His mission to Everest is to film the expedition in attempts to raise funds and awareness for America’s missing children.
Will Schmid Thuber will be trekking up to the BC. The climbing sherpas are led by Dendi Sherpa.
The names of Sherpas are as follows:
1.Dendi Sherpa (Sirdar)2.Pema Nure sherpa3.Ang Pasang Sherpa 4.Jangbu Sherpa 5.Ang Gyalgen Sherpa 6.Lakpa Sherpa 7.Mingmar Sherpa 8.Karma Sherpa 9.Lakpa Bhote 10.Kaji Sherpa 11.Pema Chotar Sherpa
12. Ngima Dendi Sherpa 13.Karsang Sherpa
7 Summits Everest Expedition 2008 from Denmark Left Via Jiri- Soren Smidt Leads His member Henrik Kristiansen
Soeren Smidt and Henrik Kristaensen arrived in Kathmandu on 3rd April. They left for Jiri on 6th April. From Jiri they will trek to Everest BC via Lukla and Namche. On the way they shall be trekking to Lobuche East Peak and Island Peak. Their trekking guide is Moule Tamang and Nerman Tamang is the cook.
The sherpas for the Everest expedition will be led by Serab Zhangmu Sherpa.The names of the sherpas are as follows:
1.Serab Zhangmu Sherpa(Sirdar) 2.Temba Sherpa 3.Lhakpa Naru Sherpa 4.Pemba Tenjin Sherpa 5.Darenji Sherpa 6.Bag Bir Tamang
Good Luck to the team!
Stay tuned for more Everest updates – Coming up Jamie’s PH Everest Expedition
Training Workshop on ‘TopOut’ Oxygen Mask Conducted by Ted Atkins
Ted Atkins who has designed and built ‘TopOut’, a new high altitude oxygen delivery system which is fast gaining popularity among high altitude climbers, conducted an orientation workshop and demonstration at the premises of Explore Himalaya’s store. The workshop was held on 25th March and was well attended by Explore’s climbing sherpas.
The workshop kick started at 9:30 a.m with a brief introduction by Ted Atkins.Without much ado he proceeded to elucidate on how TopOut oxygen delivery system works much better in high altitude climbs like Everest, then the old Russian Piosk mask.
Ted Atkins explains how TopOut works
According to him, the mask as well as the oxygen hose is made of silicon, a material which does not harden and remains flexible in high altitude conditions. The mask is fitted to a working resevoir bag(a plastic bag which is fited inside a transparent plastic bottle) that allows one to inhale a higher concentration of oxygen for every breath. .There is no wastage of oxygen during expiration (breathing out) as the flow is directed into the resevoir bag. So when one is climbing using Topout there is no wastage of oxygenYour lungs are taking in the optimum amount of oxygen without wasting any , thus enabling you to think clearly and travel faster, and reach the summit in less time.
Ted with the mask & the reservior bottle
Ted added that the mask, which comes in 2 sizes medium and small, has a snug fit. As the mask fits snugly, there is improved visibility. It does not push up to your goggles obstructing your vision while you are climbing. The mask has three valves.One is for the hose fitted to the oxygen bottle and the reservoir bag,one is for the exhalation valve to stop the cold air from getting inside the mask.
Another excellent feature of the Topout mask , which the sherpas agreed , is that the holes meant for the valves are interchangeable. It means that if one is right handed, one can fit the valve meant for the oxygen hose on the left side keeping the right hand side free and ‘unhampered’ to work on (and vice versa for the left handed).
The mask is washable( just wash with warm soapy water and rinse it thoroughly with clean water and it is germ, plus infection free!) and reusable.According to Ted, in order to assure the clients that the masks are servicable after it is being used, he test it and puts a stamp of approval on the reservoir bag( for the whole system: mask , valves , hose).
After explaining how Topout works,Ted let all the sherpas try out the masks,from the fitting in and to taking out the valves to the masks.
The Sherpas listening toTed in rapt attention
Two Danish nationals Soren Smidt and Henrik Kristiansen will be among the lucky climbers who will get a chance to summit Everest this Spring. Explore Himalaya is organizing their expedition. The two member team will be supported by a strong and able team of Sherpas led by Sherap Jangbu Sherpa, who is the Sirdar for this expedition. Sherap Jangbu Sherpa is a very experienced and has under his belt summits to 11 of the 13 eight thousanders. He holds the world record for summitting the difficult K2 in Pakistan twice, in one season. He has already summitted Everest from the North side.
As China has closed the peak from the North Side till May 10, Everest’s mighty height will be scaled only from the south side. Amidst speculations on whether the Nepalese Govt. would close the Everest expedition at the insistence of the Chinese Govt, the former’s ‘no-ban-on-Everest-climbing’ statement has brought on a huge sigh of relief for those groups intending to climb the Everest this spring. After months of planning and training to take on the ultimate challenge, it is cheers to them who are all set to scale Everest!
Mount Everest from Gorak Shep
Photo copyright: Julien Van Loye
My trip to the 'roof of the world' was a great adventure - right from the mysterious Potala Palace in Lhasa to the Everest Base Camp.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.