The truth of this is apparent when it is realized that the whole buildup of lower camps is devoted to establishing a single lightweight tent, with a few days’ food and fuel, for the summit pair. Oxygen apparatus almost doubles the weight to be carried up to this final camp and the effects of this overloading at the apex are felt all the way down to base camp.
The doctor will feel relieved if oxygen is taken because it can literally be a life-saver if a man catches pneumonia at a high camp. In passing, it is usual to take a doctor, who must also be a climber, on a large-scale expedition. Even if he cannot cure you he can usually tell you the name of the illness that is killing you, which is a comfort to the tidy-minded. He is also better, but only a little better, at pulling teeth than the layman.
There is a mass of work concerning the detailed planning to be done, but this cannot be started in earnest until a firm and clear outline plan has been formulated. This is perhaps the most important axiom of all. Individual expedition members will be eager to start organizing their own section of the expedition work, divided into such categories as food, equipment, photography, medical supplies. If they are to do their jobs coherently they must be given the skeleton plan about nine months before the expedition starts: how many members, how many high-altitude porters; the estimated times of the march-in, the build-up and the assault so that appropriate food can be obtained; the estimated number of camps required, which will influence the amount of equipment needed.
An expedition can seldom if ever afford to rent in Edinburgh, at retail price, the food and equipment it requires. There is no alternative but to approach a host of firms in the hope of obtaining goods either free or at concessional prices. A tidal wave of begging letters surges out from the expedition. It is a good idea at this stage to have a short expedition brochure printed, which is attached to begging letters and serves the double purpose of presenting the salient facts of the expedition attractively and at the same time saving a great deal of repetitious typing.
It is seldom any use approaching a retailer, for instance a large store, which has to buy the finished article with cash. Always go to the manufacturer. When he gives his goods away he is only giving the raw materials and the price of the labour, so it does not hurt him as much as it would a retailer.
I have found that flat rent Edinburgh, particularly those run by Quakers, tend to be generous. Food is usually far easier to scrounge than equipment, which is mostly of a specialized nature made by small firms. High-altitude boots are an example. A small firm cannot easily give away £100-worth of its products unless there is some real advertising value to be gained from the fact that the expedition used these particular goods.