Well, the day finally arrived, and we're off! We boarded the plane on Saturday morning at 6:50 A.M. EDT and began this incredible adventure. After I slept the next four hours, I thought I'd let you know how the final days of preparation went for us. As always, when planning and preparing for a trip of this magnitude, you discover many unanticipated events as the project approaches launch.
My personal favorite was the fact that we received the laptops we're using to communicate with TechRepublic Base Camp just two days before setting out. Fortunately, our IT department went all out to ensure we had a stable configuration that would enable us to dial in via the satellite phone and transfer information with our internal servers.
Our IT department was fantastic—Dom and John spent all day working on our endeavor, and we placed several calls to MVS. However, fearing the IT dept was short of the serial cables we needed to connect phone to laptop, Dave and I made a quick trip to CompUSA to buy a couple. Then, all four of us spent several hours on a little grassy knoll behind the TechRepublic parking lot, pointing the Mini-M's antenna to the sky searching for satellites and testing our connection and our new e-mail account. (Tech hint: If you're using a slow [2400-baud] satellite data up-link, turn off DNS—it takes too much time.)
Another source of last-minute hysteria involved the batteries for all of the electronic equipment we're taking. After a couple quick calls to an MVS engineer, we had a perfect solution. Something called a gelcell battery would provide us with power for the phone through most of the trip. Best of all, it would only add between 10 and 20 pounds to our total gear weight.
From the beginning, I've planned to test a TRGpro version of a Palm III in the extreme conditions we're likely to face. So what happened in the week leading up to departure? The screen went out! Fortunately, I was able to get a replacement in time; however it was also broken—no power. One day before we were scheduled to leave, UPS came to the rescue again and delivered a working palmtop device for me. (I wonder if they deliver on the side of the mountain we're climbing? ;->)
Finally, let me tell you about my harness, and then I'll let you go. When it comes to buying climbing and expedition equipment, two sizes are available: small and smaller. Forget what the labels say. In order to rope in safely when climbing on the ice, I need something called a sit harness. It has a waist belt, two leg loops, and a loop connecting the legs and waist, which you rope into using a carabiner or two. Mountain Gear sent me a great harness. But, as my waist is a little bigger than most svelte climbers, I found that after putting on all the expedition gear, the harness just didn't fit.
So I had them send me another harness. This one, too, though billed as an extra large, was about the width of my wrist. Finally, I went to our local Quest Outdoors, where I'd purchased tons of gear before. They didn't have the harness I was searching for, but they called manufacturers and local outlets to find a Petzl harness with a larger waistband. After a twenty-mile drive into the boondocks at 8:00 P.M., I was able to purchase The Perfect Harness: a Petzl Gourou! OK, it had to be done, and I thought it was a royal pain when I should have been packing. But instead, I discovered Hester's Fitness Center, which has the biggest, best, most complex climbing practice wall I've ever seen.
Actually, the final days weren't completely stressful. TechRepublic threw a big ice cream and cake party for us on Thursday afternoon. The cake was beautiful—it had a detailed picture of a mountain and two frosting stick figures slowly making their way up. It said, "Good luck Dave & Mike." I hope that the climb is as good as that cake was.
Want to win a TechRepublic baseball cap? Share your climbing experiences or give the guys encouraging words by posting your comment below, or send us an e-mail. It's that simple.And so you don't miss one step of David and Mike's climb up Island Peak, subscribe to our free TrekMail. Be one of the first 2,000 subscribers to our TrekMail, and you'll get a cool TechRepublic flying disc!
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.