***In the predawn darkness of May 10, 1996, a group of 36 climbers set out from Camp IV, the last major camp before the summit of Mt. Everest. The members of these expedition teams were in the hands of two of the most capable and accomplished mountaineers in the world, Rob Hall and Scott Fischer.By the end of the day, most of the members of the Hall and Fischer teams had stood on top of the world. But on their way back down the mountain, they were blindsided by a blizzard. By the time the storm was over, eight members of the expedition were missing or declared dead, including Hall and Fischer. It was the deadliest day in the mountain's history up to that point.
This is a tweet from Everest base camp.
DanielMay 15, 2016
In the mid-90s, mobile satellite phones truly connected mountaineers on Everest to the outside world for the first time. If you're at all familiar with what satellite phones looked like in the early 90s, describing them as "mobile" is at best a humorous euphemism. A good example is the Inmarsat Mini-M, which was a revolution in satellite phone technology when it was released in the early 90s and was still about the size of a large laptop.
"I don't think technology changed mountaineering at all up to 1996 because we didn't have any."
"Thanks to our solar panels and satellite connection, I was still able to Skype with my friends and family back home after the earthquake," Veyt said. "Even though we were at base camp and everything was destroyed, we still had a better internet connection than almost anyone else in Nepal."As Arnette and Veyt both pointed out, the earthquake served as a reminder that despite the arrival of 3G and Wi-Fi at Everest, these technologies are not at the point where they're ready to replace satellite-based tech.
He failed to Snapchat from the top of the world when his phone froze up in the -30F weather just a few feet from the peak.
"Everest summit no 9!" Cool tweeted. "1st tweet from the top of the world thanks to a weak 3G signal & awesome Samsung Galaxy S2 handset!"The only thing about this historical moment was that Cool wasn't actually the first to tweet from Everest's summit. The honor really belongs to the polar explorer Eric Larsen, whose simple tweet ("Everest summit!") predated Cool's tweet by over six months, albeit via a satellite rather than cellular connection.
Five years after Cool's first-but-not-actually-first tweet from the summit, social media use on Mt. Everest has become commonplace. This is largely due to innovations like the SatSleeve, a phone case with an antenna that endows any iPhone with satellite internet, as well as the improved internet connection supported by companies like Everest Link.
"No change in the forecast that we just sent but wanted to alert you that the [Joint Typhoon Warning Center] has just upgraded the tropical disturbance in the Bay of Bengal to the formation of a 'significant tropical cyclone is possible,'" Fagin wrote to the climbers. "That is a major upgrade."The storm continued to grow in intensity in the Bay while Fagin watched the winds pick up speed on his meteorological equipment, but he didn't hear back from the climbers for another five days. Then early one morning he received a message from the team: They had reached the summit, but it was very cold and some in the team had frostbite. The wind had started to pick up around 3 AM, then peaked at noon—around 50-60 km/hour, the climbers estimated. It was exactly as Fagin had predicted.
"The cell phone service is great when it works, but last year and this year I had to wander all around base camp to find a reliable signal. I'm not talking about 3G, I'm talking about just a voice signal."
Users will be able to navigate five key moments experienced by mountaineers on the way to the summit, such as the puja offering at base camp (during which climbers and Sherpa ask Everest for her blessing on their climb), ladder walking in the Khumbu crevasses, and leaving Camp IV in the middle of the night to head for the summit. According to Kjartan Emilsson, one of Solfár's co-founders, Everest VR is so true to life that it has managed to elicit goosebumps even from those who've summited IRL.Part of the reason for this, Emilsson said, is that Everest VR provides an experience that you can't even get on the actual mountain. When users summit Everest in virtual reality, they will be able to stand on the summit for as long as they'd like and watch the world change around them.Stay on the summit long enough and you'll be able to watch the sunset and see the moonlit Himalayan range—an experience most climbers (who are limited to just a few minutes at the top of the world due to lack of oxygen and extreme weather conditions) would never be able to have. Furthermore, explained Emilsson, climbers are usually exhausted and a little out of it from oxygen deprivation when they reach the top, so Everest VR will allow them to revisit the experience with a clear head.In this sense, Everest VR is true to Emilsson and his co-founders' self-proclaimed mission to put people in "impossible places." By allowing users to experience Everest in a way that even most mountaineers will never be able to, Solfár has made the experience of summiting Everest more real than reality—in a word, hyperreal.These are the two ends of the spectrum of Everest's possible futures: a mountain rendered hyperreal by state-of-the-art technology, and a mountain whose 'realness' is increasingly experienced by the climbers who reject it.
"When I got to the summit I started getting a ton of emails and notifications."