High speed and light tech for Everest Snowboarders
16:09 p.m. EDT Jul 14, 2003
Stephen, Eric and Jimmy are getting their stuff together in Kathmandu and hope to leave for the Chinese boarder in a couple of days. The team did some final communication testing from Kathmandu and posted the image to the left from Contact2.0.
The plan is to go fast and super-light. Stephen visited ExplorersWeb in NY a couple of weeks ago and we talked about the extreme speed of the Kazakhs ascent of Nanga Parbat – summiting just two weeks after arriving in BC. The Kazakhs had been acclimatizing in pressure chambers prior to the climb, and it apparently worked extremely well.
Stephen and the team chose a different approach. They will climb several lower peaks close to Everest in order to raise their red blood cell count, and then try a quick direct ascent. The old school of “climb high – sleep low” is up for challenge, and for a reason. Spending less time high on the route minimizes exposure to avalanche and rock-fall (a significant threat on the Hornbein route) and also places less stress on overall health. In an interview recently, Messner advocated the cleverness of this approach.
The Monsoon season is an unusual choice for an Everest ascent to say the least. But the team chose it specifically as they benefit from much snow for the snowboard descent. The Monsoon will be a challenge on the ascent and the tech power solution. The expedition is skipping generators and brings only solar panels to BC. The panels are select quality and will charge even in overcast conditions and snowfall. The three panel set-up gives 3.3 Amp and weighs only 2.7 kg. Over a controller the panels charge an 18 Amp 12V gel battery, supporting the expedition with both 12V DC and 120V AC power.
The power solution is inspired by Polar expeditions and much lighter and more powerful than setups normally used by Everest Expeditions.
In high camps the expedition will use a PDA, Thuraya sat phone and a compact battery pack. The climb up Hornbein Couloir is going to be extreme, but with this tech gear we might be able to get some live dispatches with video and images.
Stephen Koch aims to snowboard the 7-Summits. With only one left to go – Everest – he chose the hard way; down one of the world’s most famous direct lines, the Hornbein Couloir. Jimmy Chin plans to climb to the top with Stephen and then ski down. Stephen, Jimmy and Eric are friends from Wyoming. The expedition uses Contact2.0 software for daily updates.
Image courtesy of the Snowboard team