Software Development

Daily update: Ruggedizing the equipment

The view at 12,000 feet may be spectacular, but the almostEverest trekkers are realizing how harsh the climate can be on their equipment and batteries. Duct tape and Ziploc bags to the rescue!

4/16/00
6:15 P.M. local time (8:30 A.M. EDT)
Valley beneath Tangboche

Deboche.

Hello all. First I'd like to report that I am better. Cipro is a miracle drug, and a little rest was all I needed. Today we made our way from Namche to Tangboche, where the highest monastery in the world sits. It was a rough day from Namche, but not as rough as the way up from Phakding. After a steady climb up about another 1,000 feet (305 meters), we are now at 12,300 feet (3,749 meters). For a short time, we could see Everest in the distance. What a magnificent sight.

Dave and I both took a slow and steady pace. The trail was like a white thread running through the mountains. One funny thing we saw—at one point, we passed a man with a pick ax, shovel, and a donation box. He was collecting money to help support his efforts to widen the trail and make it less rocky. The trails here are all rock and what looks like white beach sand.

We walked through clouds and finally, as we arrived, a light snow and cold. We stopped at a teahouse where our cook staff served us hot milk and hot water for chocolate, and biscuits. Two of our porters were late, so we were only able to set up half the camp for about an hour. Finally, our last bags arrived. David was able to get his sleeping bag aired out, and I was able to put out my ground pads.

The teahouse was full of climbers. You could hear the buzz of conversation in foreign languages. On the way up, Bruce Andrews came upon some grim news: a climber he knew named Robert Warren, a world-class climber, developed severe pulmonary edema in this town. He was on his way to Ama Dablam, but collapsed here. He was weak for six days, and finally walked out.

This evening, the weather has cleared a little, and we have a great view of a guilt-edged Kantega mountain rising from among the clouds.

And now a small technical note. We are going to have to improvise ruggedizing this laptop because there's so much dust on the trails. We're going to use duct tape to cover the ports and duct tape a plastic Ziplock bag over the keyboard. We are getting very little life out of the laptop batteries, although the satphone is doing better than advertised. Soon we'll switch to the gigantic battery we've lugged along so far—or, to be fair—porters or yaks have lugged along so far. We figured that some of the reason we were timed out from our network connection was that we tried to send a 1-MB file over the Net. So now we're breaking all our stuff into separate files, which seems to work better. Finally, our 1-800 AT&T network has been cutting us off lately, so we've been using alternative accounts, including my personal aye.net account yesterday. The Mini-M satellite phone has been incredible though—it works great.

Tomorrow we hike up to Dingboche at 14,191 feet (4,325 meters). We're getting up there! We hope for clear skies so we can view these awesome vistas.

Peace,
Mike
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Mike Jackman is an editor in chief of TechProGuild, an editor of PC Troubleshooter and Windows Support Professional, and also works as a freelance Web designer and consultant. Together with his co-editor in chief David Bard, he is traveling to Nepal to report on high-altitude technology and to climb 20,285-foot Imja Tse. In his spare time (when he can find some), Mike’s an avid devourer and writer of science fiction, parent to two perpetually adolescent cats, and a hiking enthusiast.