Generic Climbing Gear
Crampons: Racks of steel alloy spikes that attach to mountaineering
boots and provide secure footing in icy conditions. On Everest, climbers
routinely wear crampons from the ice fall to the summit. Modern step-in
crampon bindings attach much more easily to plastic mountaineering
boots, saving the climber from the torture of fumbling with crampon
straps with frozen fingers.
Ice Axe: Basic ice tool with three business ends -- adze, pick, and ferrule --
for safer travel through snow and ice. Since the South Col route on
Everest is not technical, the standard 70-cm or so ice ax works well.
There is no need for more technical ice-climbing tools like those used
Fixed Rope: A safety line rigged from an anchor and left in place to
facilitate progress up the mountain or during descent. Fixed lines
usually are rigged from 9 mm or smaller perlon climbing rope, or cordage
even lighter than that: polypropylene, water-ski rope has been used for
this application. The idea is to take a large spool of strong and
durable but lightweight rope to a convenient place, and attach the
highest end to a secure anchor, such as multiple snow pickets or rock
pitons (see below). Climbers can then ascend the rope using a jumar (see below) or descend the
rope using a belay device, allowing up and down movement even in bad
weather. Frayed fixed ropes can be a lethal danger, as was demonstrated
in the 70's when American climbing legend John Harlin was killed while
jumaring fixed ropes on the Eiger Direct route while he and
Scottish climber Dougal Haston attempted the route's first ascent.
Jumar: General term derived from the French-made Jumar Ascender but now
applied generically to include all rope-ascending devices, including
Petzl, Clog, Gibb etc. Any of these ascenders uses a pivoting cam which
deploys against the rope, enabling the device to move up but not down.
This is very useful when climbing fixed ropes, as the tired high
altitude climber merely moves the jumar up the fixed line with each step
as he or she climbs higher, providing not just a safety belay that
prevents the climber from falling, but also allowing the climber to lean
back against the fixed rope and rest. As the late Scott Fischer once
said, "People don't realize that the mountain only has to be climbed by
the first guy, 'cause after that you're just juggin' ropes."
Plastic Boots: For the past 15 years, ski-boot technology has been
applied to mountaineering boots, resulting in footwear that keeps
climbers' feet warm and dry in even extreme conditions. The
proliferation of double plastic boots-made by such companies as Koflach,
Lowa, Scarpa, Asolo and others -- has greatly reduced the risk of
frostbite like that suffered on such early Himalayan climbs like the
French expedition to Annapurna in 1950.
None, however, have performed like ABC's Everest Boots. Last year, Beck Weathers, and this year, Hugo Rogriguez, both spent an emergency night on upper Everest without bivy gear, and neither suffered frostbite on their feet. Both were wearing ABC's Everest boots. [Click to read Hugo's Story] and how his [Everest Boots came through].
Piton: Metal alloy spike of varying sizes that can be driven into cracks
in rock. Rock hardware is sometimes used for attaching fixed ropes on
Everest's South Col route, but not for protecting lead climbers as is
the case on more technical rock climbs.
Deadman: Shovel-blade-shaped section of aluminum (with a length of cable
for clipping carabiners) that can be used to protect climbers on steep
Picket: Length of aluminum or other light-weight metal T-bar that is
driven into the snow and used as an anchor for fixed ropes or to
otherwise protect climbers.
Gear for Everest
Boots: all the climbers use Everest Boots (see above) or the like -- perhaps a
Scarpa but only with Aveolite liners, vapor barrier socks, and over-boots.
Tents: Sierra design, North Face Himalayan Hotels, VE 25's, Westinds.
For Camps I and II, custom designed Weather Haven.
Jumar: Petzl Ascenders
Sleeping Bags: Feathered Friends, North Face or Marmot rated to -40°F
Packs: Kelty or Dana Design
Ski Poles: Leki
More accurately called satellite terminals, these
communication devices send and receive signals to one of four Inmarsat
satellites in geo-synchronous orbit around the earth. Telephone calls
can be placed from virtually anywhere on the planet, so long as the
terminal antenna has a direct line of sight to one of the four satellites.
Cutting-Edge: one of the satellite phones we used, the MVS MiniSat Terminal, was released just weeks before the expedition and features pioneering technology for the transmission of data by satellite communication. It was used to send email, digital images, and audio updates from Everest, all archived for you in our Dispatches from Everest.
Laptop PC's: were used to process images from the digital camera (see below) and work with the MVS MiniM satellite terminal to transmit the data (photos and email).
Surround Video Camera: a special camera that spins on its tripod to take a complete 360-degree panorama was used to capture images from the expedition. Provided by System Source, the Seitz Roundshot Panoramic Camera was taken on the expedition, with film sent back to System Source where it was virtually wrapped using software and made available on The Mountain Zone's Surround Video Pages. (You'll need Internet Explorer to see surround video.)
Digital Video Camera: was used by the Everest '97 team to show you what it's really like on Everest. Footage taped on the mountain was reviewed on a lap-top computer and stills captured with a "Snappy" video card. Those photos were then transmitted over a data-capable satellite phone and made available to you in our Dispatches from Everest.
Jim Bruton in Base Camp with a few of his favorite things.
Special thanks to Jim "Mr. High Bandwidth" Bruton for the generous use of his frightening array of hardware, and Freddy Blume for the endless video editing, eye for drama, and head for wiring.
Jim Bruton and Freddy Blume
Mountain Zone editor Peter Potterfield traveled to Mount Everest base camp with Todd Burleson's team to report on the action. He went with some interesting pieces of equipment designed to make the 50-mile hike as comfortable as possible. [Click here for his review of the trekking gear.]
Sleeping Bag: REI Down Time -25°F, down-filled, four-season sleeping bag. [Click for review.]
Tent: Geo-Mountain 4. Four-person, four-season mountaineering tent with ground cloth. [Click for review.]
Trekking Poles: REI collapsible trekking poles. As ski poles can't be
taken separately on international flights, they must fit inside the duffels. [Click for review.]
Pack: SARC Critical Pack summit pack built by custom pack maker Dan McHale of Seattle, WA. [Click for review.]
Duffel Bags: Sun-Dog extra large duffel bags for air travel and journey to the mountain. [Click for review.]