(HumanEdgeTech) Yesterday we covered general safety such as alternate routes and avalanche gear, trackers and simple technology for images and text. Today we move on to video, power, BC tech and cool gear in general.
Tom: What about camera and video?
Elia: I just bought a Red Dragon for work. It's pricey - $50 k with accessories plus lenses - but for the first time in my life I get stuff that looks as good as what I see with my eyes! It's heavy - the brain alone is 6lbs - but I would bring it on Everest for documentaries.
For the average climber I would recommend a small DSLR, a Canon Rebel or similar, for both video and stills. I used a 5D Mark 3 in down to -50C in northern Canada and it worked flawlessly. Bring a couple of extra batteries and store the batteries close to your body at all time, but the camera outside of your body to avoid fogging. I bring a lot of cheap hand warmers and put it with my tech if needed.
Tom: And if you want to go a bit more advanced?
Elia: The big buzz word is 4K and there are some really good new cameras on the market. The Sony AX100 is incredibly light and tiny and would be great for non-professionals that still need good quality.
Simone: I use a helmet mounted Garmin VIRB. It has position, altimeter and external sensors for heart rate, temp and accelerometer. I get all that info as meta data with my videos.
Elia: Always room in the kit for a GoPro.
Tom: Power high up?
Simone: So many good cheap batteries you can bring so I don't use solar high up. 20 000 milliAmp with USB is light and easy to use.
Ryan: I use PowerTraveller and full disclosure - they sponsor me - but they have some great stuff. I used PowerMonkey Expedition on Kili, Carstenz an Manaslu. Also a smaller model Powermonkey Explorer 2. Very compact.
Elia: I used the P50 Tekkeon and have 6 of them. Great battery.
Alan: GoalZero has taken the market with storm but I see more and more generators.
Tom: Yes, moving more and more into smartphones and other ultralight equipment it seems we bring less solar panels high up and more batteries instead, but what about BC power?
Alan: Every Sherpa and porter has a smartphone and the solar panels simply don't take the load. Generators run almost 24-7, even on K2 these days.
Simone: I always bring a Honda generator. It's modified for high altitude and 2 liters of gas get me 8 hours of power. Solar is simply not efficient enough - especially on winter expeditions.
Louis: I do generator and solar combination.Generators break a lot though so you need to pick up some repair skills. (I use a Mac - it's important to remind people that non-solid state hard drive doesn't work well on altitude).
Caroline: These days Adventure Consultants provide all the power you need in BC unless the client has some very specific needs. We have generators and big solar panels.
Tom: What's the situation for high speed communication on Everest and in Himalaya base camps?
Ryan: I don't do a lot of com in BC - mainly update the website with daily dispatches - so on Manaslu I used a small netbook with my Thuraya. Works great.
Caroline: We have Thuraya IP and BGAN but there is also wifi offered at Everest BC for a fee.
Alan: Bring your own power and satellite phone if communication is important. On Everest it's sometimes hard to get a connections so you need to be self-sufficient. We had at least 4 Thuraya IP in K2 BC this year. With all the generators "Vertical Limit" is almost becoming a reality. One thing that's important is that it's almost impossible to shut down all the automatic updates on computers and smartphones. Always a risk to run a high bill if you don't have an unlimited plan.
Elia: I have a BGAN but have also used Thuraya IP. I think bringing a Nepali phone to BC is great and very cheap but the connection can be spotty so back up with satellite phone. On the mountain you need satellite phone. Also - any computer must have a solid state hard drive.
Tom: What about other gear and cool stuff, and fun trips you plan? Any general climbing advice you would give new mountaineers?
Joby: I like Masimo Oxygen saturation meter a lot. Plugs into the iPhone and I get a live readout of vital sign.
Simone: Oxygen saturation meter is a great piece of equipment.
Alan: Got the new Mountain Hardware down suite with water proof down. First I thought - why do you need something water proof? But really, it gets more hot than cold on K2, you sweat a lot and the down could gain several pounds. It's $1200 so not cheap but it won't kill you.
Alan: I also think the new Summit Oxygen system by Neil is a game changer. He make his own bottles, regulators and masks and many of the commercial expeditions have now switched over. It's a big difference to climb with compared to what I used on my first 8000er 15 years ago.
Caroline: Love our Makalu jackets from The North Face. And we used your CONTACT software on more than 100 trips now. Otherwise right now I think it's super cool that we started to do South Pole all the way.
Tim: I really like my Arcteryx harness. I think as a general advice, and more specifically for a mountain like Ama Dablam, would be don't underestimate the difficulties to climb technical on altitude.
Ryan: I'm conservative in general and stick to stuff I know. I used CONTACT on all trips and like it al ot because t's a very simple interface we used in on countless expeditions and it's very user friendly. Also sending dispatches and emails in same package.
Ryan: We just became a Black Diamond preferred guiding service so just about to test lots of cool stuff. Gear I use much is La Sportiva Spantik, BD Ice tools and Zeal Optics. As for trips, we guide small teams on Everest, Manaslu etc and the Poles. We are open for other locations and also arrange polar expedition training.
Small compact gear that is not overly complicated, focus on the adventure and be there in the present! Use tech as a means of communication and as a safety back up but not rely on it, new mountaineers should try and be self reliant first and use tech as a backup second.
We use granite gear insulated sleeves and zip cases for carrying electronics which protects it. We keep batteries close to the body to conserve power when up on a mountain. Warm it up before using to conserve battery life before you get back to your power source.
Elia: Almost every night on the mountain I do time laps on my iPhone and connect it with the sat sleeve. The phone becomes a compass to the stars.
Louis: Foot warming system. Light and perfect, use it all the time. This is the perfect gear.
Louis: I learned a lot from my own and others mistakes. One thing is to only go with gear that is tested. As an example a waterproof tent zipper is not needed for altitude but a strong tent is! This rule applies to all gear. Test it back home and not on the expedition, and check what the best climbers are doing.
Joby: Right now I'm deep into the IMAX production and relaxing with surf and SUP.
Simone Moro has more than 50 expeditions, 10 of them in winter and first winter ascents of Shisha Pangma, Makalu and Gasherbrum. He is also a high altitude heli rescue pilot and described by Joby Ogwyn as "the guy in the mountaineering world that is best on tech."
Canadian climbing documentary cameraman and movie maker Elia Saikaly has 5 Everest and 2 Cho Oyu expeditions under his belt. A 12 part Everest reality show won him the 2014 CINE Golden Eagle Award (Steven Spielberg and Robert De Niro are among previous winners). This spring, Elia (world record holder for deadlift - 505 lbs - at 17 btw) was stuck in camp 1 on Everest when the big avalanche hit.
Louis Rousseau from Quebec has become a Pakistan 8000 meter veteran with several expeditions to K2, a new route on Nanga Parbat and a new route winter attempt with Gerfried Göschl in 2011 on Gasherbrum I.
In 1999 Joby Ogwyn became the youngest American to summit Mount Everest. Besides mountaineering (speed ascent record on Cho Oyu) Joby has moved on to Base Jumping and Wingsuit flying. Backed by NBC and the Discovery Channel Joby was scheduled to do a live wingsuit jump from the summit of Everest this past spring but the expedition was called off due to the accidents. Joby is currently working on an IMAX about wingsuiting.
Alan Arnette from Colorado runs the popular Everest blog www.alanarnette.com and summited K2 this summer. Alan is now planning a quest for all the 14 8000 meter summits.
Ryan Waters, one of the world's foremost cross-expedition explorers, has done more than 10, 8000 meter expeditions. He did the first ski traverse of Antarctica without resupplies or kites, and skied unsupported to the North Pole earlier this spring. We caught up with Ryan on his way to Punta Arenas, Chile, where he traveled to examine a new expedition with Eric Larsen.
For the commercial outfitters' perspective we enrolled Caroline Blaikie, operation manager at New Zealand based Adventure Consultants, one of the top Everest guiding services (founded by late Himalaya legend Rob Hall). Caroline is a 6 time Everest Base Camp manager and holds a degree in physiology. Guide Tim Robertson has worked for Adventure Consultants for 10 years and recently used the Thuraya Sat Sleeve on Ama Dablam.
Tom Sjogren (moderator) skied unsupported to the South Pole and North Pole back to back many years ago while doing the first ever live dispatches from such expeditions. Using early wearable computing on the ice, Tom also built a WiFi network to the summit of Mount Everest in 1999.
He cofounded HumanEdgeTech outfitting many of the world's most extreme expeditions and participating in specialized tech projects.
ExWeb Special: 2015 Everest and Himalaya Mountaineers Tech Roundtable
ExWeb Special: 2014 Polar Tech Roundtable Conference