Tweet From the Top of the World

11:13 a.m. on October 29, 2010 (EDT)
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11:42 a.m. on October 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Thats pretty sweet! ET can now call home...

2:33 p.m. on October 29, 2010 (EDT)
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I don't think I like this...

3:40 p.m. on October 29, 2010 (EDT)
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What is there to not like about this?

11:44 p.m. on October 29, 2010 (EDT)
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Who's the provider, I wonder?  I can't get any service in Tecate, CA.  Maybe they'll put up a tower here.  :-)

12:17 a.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I think from a purist's point of view, this would be a terrible thing. In some of the biographies I've read of climbers who go for the 8000M's, half of the adventure is the unknown. Being in a remote place, with little to no contact with the outside world, being self sufficient and relying on your partner or climbing team.

 

I think for the rest of the world, it makes sense. Everest is commercialized. It makes sense for a commercialized mountain to have better communication. If the mountain is going to be commercialized, it is more safe to provide a better means of communication, because the people will be going there, whether there is 3G networks or not. So why not provide a safe communication network for those people, since most of them are under prepared as it is?

 

I think this will also get a lot of criticism from arm chair mountaineers. I'm not nearly at the stage of being able to tackle an 8000M peak, but when I do, I want safety in place. I want to be able to contact my loved ones and whoever else is necessary. 

 

People have already been able to communicate on Everest with satellite phones, and it has been pretty effective. The only difference is that this breakthrough makes it available to MORE people, rather than just a few privileged parties. It will drastically improve safety and communication, which I don't see as a bad thing.

12:49 a.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Alas, one more way to cheat certain worthy candidates out of the running for the Darwin Award.  I hope they practice better cell manners up there than they do in restaurants, and other places where people must endure their phone conversations in forced close proximity.

Ed

1:03 a.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I personally find it disrespectful to the individuals who have died on Everest, and their families, to poke fun at the commercialized nature the mountain has adopted. Who has the right to say that an average joe who can afford to shell out 60G's to be guided up the mountain, deserves to die? More power to them for following their dreams. I also wonder with the exception of a select few members here, who has experienced the physical demands of trying to complete such a task. Arm chair Everest experts is what I like to call it. The camps are set up, the ropes are set up, but the reaction their body has to the altitude, and the extreme physical effort they must exert is something no Sherpa can do for them. It is still an incredible feat to climb Everest, even with help from guide services. Anyone who says different is an oaf.

 

This 3G coverage will now provide more safety nets and now there is better communication.

1:29 a.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Everest is a hellhole anyhow, Let them have the 3G, 4G, whatever they want.  Heck, I can't wait to see pictures of the long line of climbers staring at their phones.  I bet we see a spike in amputated fingers and thumbs in the coming months...

5:16 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I personally find it disrespectful to the individuals who have died on Everest, and their families, to poke fun at the commercialized nature the mountain has adopted. Who has the right to say that an average joe who can afford to shell out 60G's to be guided up the mountain, deserves to die? More power to them for following their dreams. I also wonder with the exception of a select few members here, who has experienced the physical demands of trying to complete such a task. Arm chair Everest experts is what I like to call it. The camps are set up, the ropes are set up, but the reaction their body has to the altitude, and the extreme physical effort they must exert is something no Sherpa can do for them. It is still an incredible feat to climb Everest, even with help from guide services. Anyone who says different is an oaf.

 

This 3G coverage will now provide more safety nets and now there is better communication.

 

Point of clarification: I am by no means an arm chair mountaineer, yet admittedly I have never set foot in the Himalayas. 

Disrespectful – hmm this is a loaded comment.  Let us exclude from this debate those who do have the background that makes them as qualified as anyone to scale big mountains.  Let us focus instead on the notion of respect expressed by those whose primary qualifications for Everest are money and long hours on a treadmill.  What respect do these wanabes express, subjecting others to danger, when sherpa and mountaineers are summoned to bail these VIPs out of a predicament?  What respect are these prima donnas showing for others on the mountain, their families, the sport, and the mountain itself?  What respect do their actions reflect when their passing results in them taking up permanent residence, committing the most egregious act against LNT ethics, transforming themselves into macabre milestones marking the route up.  Read Into Thin Air, and tell us what level of respect some of the characters who paid their way into that disaster expressed, engaging in a gratuitous and narcissistic expression of self indulgence, disregarding their guides’ and sherpas' advice, while allegedly following their dreams?  Bluntly put: What level of respect does a dead fool really deserve?

I have no problem passing judgment on foolish behavior.  We do it all the time.  For example what are the last words the red neck uttered (Hey look at me).  And the Darwin Awards, for all sorts of fatal acts based on poor judgment.  Etcetera.  Death does not place a fool and their acts beyond judgment.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not disparaging the Mallories of this world, they knowingly pressed the margins.  Perhaps you can even allow for the summit attempts by quadriplegics and toddlers; they too engage in acts that press the edge of what is possible.  But what boundaries are being pushed by the schools of tuna swimming upstream for the privilege of claiming they bagged the Big One, who have never climbed anything higher than a bunk bed, and whose sole rope experience was skipping rope while singing Dum Dum Dodo in second grade?  The only boundaries they are pushing are those defining better judgment.  There are safer, wiser venues for those intent on pushing their personal limits, venues that won’t result in others being labeled as collateral casualties or next of kin.

Perhaps my indignance is a result of a predicament where our group’s personal safety was directly affected by an individual who bluffed their way onto a guided tour, ending up way over their head, or the group who ruined several other groups’ outings, as we were compelled to assist getting these unseasoned, under equipped, ultra light clowns out of a routine foul weather occurrence.  Perhaps my outrage is rooted in my experiences on Danali, where infamous sections have names like The Autobahn, refering to the numbers of German climbers who slipped there and tumbled to their deaths.  You have to wonder when traversing these icy slopes why some needlessly flirted with disaster, traveling un-roped, marching on when weather indicates you should be descending or digging a cave, or continuing up despite the onset of HAPE or HACE, or pushing on until exhaustion stole their will to live.  Perhaps it is the corpses I passed enroute, some who I read about in preparation for my own trips.  We recalled their names and the lapses in judgment that lead to their often avoidable demises.  Indeed these souls invoke a profound sense of loss, decades after their passing, and remind you no summit is worth the ultimate sacrifice. 

You stated in another thread, regarding uneducated hikers/climbers: ”Needless to say, if you can't afford the gear necessary for serious winter hiking or climbing, YOU DON'T DO IT!! Stick with 3 season hiking so you don't die!”  That certainly sounds like a judgement, one you felt entitled to utter.  In that vien I am somewhat dismayed you condone others “following their dreams” when they lack the experiences necessary to contend with 8000 meter treking.

You ask who has the right to say the average Joe deserves to die?  No one is making such assertions here.  What I am addressing is an attitude shared by many average Joes out on their Everest and Denali soirées, that somehow guides, porters, fixed ropes, helicopters walkie talkies, and wireless coverage makes their journey safer.  That is debatable.  Danali rangers lament the guide concessionaires and rescue program they have instituted on that mountain is often perceived as an invitation to go where many otherwise wouldn’t and shouldn't venture.  In other words, people now are taking risks they normally wouldn’t consider, under the misperception they are safe because there are "more safety nets.”  That mentality is akin to driving drunk because safty belts and air bags will protect me.  I say if you want fewer auto deaths, mount the steering wheel on the front bumper.  The same goes for tourists in big mountains.  Alas the NPS still grapples with how to effectively screen who is qualified to climb.  So perhaps I should clarify my retort about wireless coverage cheating some from earning their Darwin award.  It was actually an ironic statement.  To pen my sentiments in an unambiguous prose: Great!  All we need is more false sense of security on Everest to lure up even more fools WHO HAVE NO BUSINESS THERE in the first place.  JMHO.

Ed 

6:40 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I've read a half dozen or more accounts of the disaster on Everest, as well as disasters in other expeditions like on K2, as well as historic accounts from mountaineering legends from first ascents and attempts on unclimbed mountains, as well as watch more than a dozen documentaries on big mountains.

 

Hmm let's see - a mountain, or a human life. 

 

Yes unprepared climbers put others in danger because they may need rescuing. But isn't it the responsibility of the guide services to determine who is or isn't ready to climb? Is the climber really responsible for that decision? Is it really okay to say it's good that he/she died because he was doing something he shouldn't have done? Maybe more services need to be responsible for what happens on the mountain since they are the ones who get the permits and access. I think I recall reading many times how rushed lots of guide services are. They are sometimes more concerned with taking in money and pumping out summits than they are about preventing disasters and keeping inappropriate climbers out of dangerous situations.

 

I never said unprepared people should go. I never supported novices attempting serious undertakings. All I am saying is that there is no mountain "code" that is more valuable than a human life. Poking fun at someone's death because they are unprepared is disrespectful, not productive. The experiences you mention sound humbling. But let's not forget that novices aren't the ones always making these decisions. "Experts" and seasoned climbers traditionally make bad decisions too because they think they can get out of a situation. Read some Ed Viesturs. He discusses several accounts of very well seasoned climbers making TERRIBLE decisions which required him to save their lives and almost lose his in the process. These were folks who were so experienced that they were sponsored by their countries to make the summit, not just some rich guy who paid to be "carried" up Everest.

 

I did indeed create a post about uneducated hikers and climbers, with the intent of giving newcomers that sort of information, not to judge them or tell them not to get into the sport. It is information to say that specialized gear is needed for this sport, not a judgement. But you can dissect semantics however you please: I'm young, but not uneducated.

 

There are lots of "Darwin" awards out there. How about the fools that smoke or use smokeless tobacco? How about the fools who abuse drugs or alcohol? How about the fools who eat fast food several days a week ruining their body? And these aren't even "adventurous" undertakings, just everyday life!! These people put others at risk every single day - second hand smoke, drunk drivers, violent crimes, and on and on and on. But we're worried about a few hundred people who climb a mountain every year? What I just mentioned consists of millions upon millions of people. Yet we're worried about maintaining some pretentious mountain code.

 

I wouldn't say 3G networks provide a false sense of security. Just because someone can send a text doesn't mean they are any more able to get rescued from 28000 feet. It means that it will be easier to communicate with loved ones. It means it will be easier to communicate with other climbers and base camp. It means they can take better preventative measures or better organize rescues. But sure, I guess some 20 year old college students with no experience hiking or climbing will read the 3G article and decide that next week they're flying to Kathmandu, because with cell phone coverage, they'll be safe.

 

My guess is no one will make that mistake.

6:58 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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P.S.

 

There was never any disrespect meant towards you or your vast knowledge of the outdoors. Obviously this sort of debate is an ongoing one that began decades and decades ago, and will probably never end. I tend to be an independent on any issue conceivable. Some see black, some see white, some see grey. I see the whole spectrum of colors, and typically like to be a loud mouth and make that known :-)

 

 

7:20 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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P.S.

 

There was never any disrespect meant towards you or your vast knowledge of the outdoors.. ..I see the whole spectrum of colors, and typically like to be a loud mouth and make that known :-)

 

 

Wasn't offended at all.  I was provocative in my original post, as it touches on a subject I see with conflicted feelings.  I, like you, am concerned when folks go traipsing off unprepared into the yonder.  Much as the phrase he died doing what he enjoyed seems quixotic, it rings hollow when you are informed what you thought was a tent covered cache is actually a corpse.   

Loud mouth?  Just ask my wife about who she thinks is a loud mouth!

Ed

10:27 p.m. on October 30, 2010 (EDT)
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Up until now communication on Everest was done by two way radio...is that correct?

 

12:18 a.m. on October 31, 2010 (EDT)
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Trout - yes that is true to my knowledge. Unfortunately that traditional method has problems. Different parts of the mountain lose signal altogether, especially during storms. And for some individuals who do an up and over traverse, the signal is lost on the other side of the mountain. Also I believe the summit is not visible from the south side base camp, which means if the communication is set up there, the signal is not always great.

 

But I know the north side is rarely climbed anymore, so trying to contact parties while in different base camps might not be as much of a problem anymore.

August 30, 2014
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