Summit Oxygen’s ‘Vision’ Mountaineering Facemask

Neil Greenwood, Director of Summit Oxygen, was at EH recently to talk about Summit Oxygen’s new and improved ‘Vision’ Mountaineering Facemask which they are putting up in the market this season. According to Neil this is an updated version of the mask that they currently have on the market.

The new mask has a very compact oxygen reservoir and a sleek design than the earlier version (which was a bit cumbersome).This makes the new mask easier to use and carry. The face mask is made from hardened exo-skeleton which prevents it from ‘spreading’ across the face when pulled tight. There are two sizes available small and large.

The new and improved features of Summit Oxygen’s mask include :

Bayonet Fitting – The bayonet fitting and therefore the facemask is fully compatible with the Russian oxygen regulator.

Flow Indicator -The flow indicator allows the climber to confirm they have a flow of oxygen. When there is no flow of oxygen the green ‘float’ is at rest in the bottom of the tube. The indicator is calibrated to register flows as low as 0.25-lpm.

Flow Selector– The flow selector allows climbers to alter their oxygen flow rate from their chest. Normally this can only be done by accessing the regulator on the oxygen cylinder which is in their backpack. There are two benefits to having this flow selector:

  • Accuracy: The flow selector has the following flow rates – 0, 0.25, 0.50, 0.75, 1.0, 1.25, 1.5, 1.75, 2.0, 2.5, 3.0, 3.5 & 4.0 litres per minute (lpm). The flow rates are accurate to within +/- 2%. Having a flow rate as low as 0.25-lpm allows a climber to sleep on a very low flow of oxygen.
  • Convenience: Having control of flow rates readily available on the chest allows the climber to increase or decrease the flow rate in a more timely fashion depending on their level of exertion. When they take a rest they can reduce their flow rate and conversely when climbing the ‘second step’ they can increase it.

Oxygen Mask

Flow Selector

Oxygen Reservoir – The oxygen reservoir is located on the side of the facemask in a clear, hardened shell. The reservoir contains a silicone diaphragm that expands with the flow of oxygen during exhalation and then collapses immediately on inhalation. With the reservoir being located so close to the point of inhalation ensures oxygen is delivered at the optimum point in the breathing cycle. There are clear windows to allow the climber and a buddy to check the function of the reservoir. The resistance of the diaphragm is less than that required to overcome the valve that allows oxygen into the facemask. Therefore the diaphragm will always fill first before oxygen enters the mask. Being manufactured from silicone means it is unaffected by the temperatures experienced on Mount Everest.

General Features:

Hardened Exo Skeleton – The hardened exo skeleton performs two functions. It provides a solid platform to attach the oxygen rerservoir, valves and head harness. Secondly, it allows the facemask to be pulled tight on to the face without the facemask

Valves – Possibly the most important part of any facemask is the design of the valves. In the case of the ‘Vision’ facemask the valves are suspended to allow them to operate in both directions i.e inhalation and exhalation. This has the added advantage of reducing resistance to breathing. The valve being suspended also means they won’t seal and potentially freeze shut to a surface. There is also a slight gap around the edge of the valve to ensure they don’t freeze in the closed position.

Head Harness – The head harness is made from a lightweight mesh that cover most of the head. It provides an extremely comfortable and secure platform to secure the facemask to. It comes with quick release clips designed to be used wearing mitts. The combination of the head harness and clips allow the facemask to be attached and adjusted when the climber is ready, also to unclip one side of the facemask to clean out moisture without the harness falling away from the head.

Inner Mask – The inner facemask is made from silicone, meaning it is unaffected by the low temperatures experienced on 8000m peaks. It is also very comfortable and can be sterilized between uses.

Servicing – Summit Oxygen are in Kathmandu spring and autumn seasons to service and repair facemasks, regulators and for cylinder refilling.

Neil Greenwood says, “This is the first season we are putting in the market .So we have a number of mountains we are testing this season. ”

For any further information and contact details go to the Summit Oxygen website

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