The climbing, trekking and cybercasting equipment on Everest
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 on waterfalls.

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 snow slopes.

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

Cybercasting Gear

Satellite Telephones:
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

Trekking Gear

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.]