I developed this survival system over decades from big wall, canyoning and caving survival experiences - and Mountain Equipment UK made it," said Chip Rafferty. Image of Rafferty and his shelter, courtesy of Chip.
Chip's Shelter: Looking for rescue solutions at high altitude
Posted: Jun 26, 2006 02:00 pm EDT
(MountEverest.net) "Iâve just read your recent report on the death of David Sharp and the ongoing debate on him being left to die," reads an email to ExplorersWeb. "Having been on Everest during the time of the incident as a trainer for the British services Everest team who attempted the West Ridge this year, I would like to comment."
Offering a possible solution
Many readers want to share their take on the David Sharp story - but British Chip Rafferty, a long distance sports coach, has gone a step further. He wants to find a way to help stranded climbers at high altitude. "This letter is not a criticism or a moral stance on what happened to David Sharp; it is offering a possible solution to future survival situations at high altitude."
"There are means by which a climber in difficulty at altitude can be assisted," says Rafferty.
"It just requires each team carrying a high altitude isolation pod and a micro stove with a small gas canister - about 2 lbs total weight."
A small, light, and simple gadget
"I developed this survival system over decades from big wall, canyoning and caving survival experiences - and Mountain Equipment UK made it. They named it Chip Shelter (Climbers High Isolation Pod)."
"The tent/shelter weighs little more than a pound including poles. It stays upright on any ledge-like surface; the weight of the people or person in it (there are 2 and 4 man shelters available) is enough to prevent it from being blown away."
"It is no harder than pulling an emergency shelter over you and then, after firing up the stove, temperature in the tent changes almost instantly from-30c to +40c."
Who knows when it is too late?
"So if teams carrying this system should come across a climber in distress even at high altitudes, they could have easily done something for him."
"Those thinking a climber is beyond help on Everest should read about Beck Weathers and his teamâs survival on Everest in May '96 to better understand what condition people can get into and still survive."
Chips Rafferty spent most of his coaching career in the Army Physical Training Corps, coaching and training elite athletes in numerous sports as well as preparing soldiers for duty.
While working full time at the Joint Services Mountain Training Wing at Ripon, he is currently serving in the TA as an Adventure Training specialist with HQ 15 Brigade.
His personal performance over 3 decades includes achievements such as Top 20 Finisher London Marathon; 3 x Inter/Service Triathlon Champion and most recently, silver medalist Long Course World Duathlon (multi-sport) Championship (Austria 2003) and World Championship Iron man qualifier Canada 2003. Chip's adventure highlights also include leader of the first descent of Lows Gully Borneo, many of the worlds most challenging caves and mountain ranges.
Chip's academic profile, including a Masterâs Degree, discounts any accusations of "all brawn and no brain"; the same goes for his current coaching qualifications including English Institute of Sport "High Performance Coach".