The eight-thousanders are the 14 highest mountains in the world, which exceed 8,000 meters. Located between Nepal, Pakistan and China, they pose a real challenge for climbers and mountaineers from around the world by the harshness of the road, weather and atmospheric conditions. The best known mountain is undoubtedly Everest, although considered most dangerous are Annapurna (Nepal), K2 (Pakistan), Nanga Parbat (Pakistan) and Kanchenjunga (Nepal / India).
The first time that the summit of Everest was reached in 1953. Since then, more than 3,000 people have reached the summit and thousands more have been those who have tried. Of course, it should be noted that more than 75% of all people who have climbed Everest have done since 2000.
More mountaineers, less misfortunes
It is estimated that about 300 people have died on Everest, although the mortality rate has decreased significantly over the past 20 years due to a greater understanding of how to safely climb the mountain and technological improvements that have occurred in all areas of climbing : from the clothes worn by mountaineers to aid kit (such as tanks) and, of course, telecommunications.
If we make an estimate of how many people die in the attempt to climb to the top for every coronation is complete, we note that 1970 and 1987 were the most tragic years and, as the years go (and with them, technology) the fatality rates are falling sharply. And that, as we say, more and more people try to crown the highest peaks. A greater mountaineer population, should have more risk of an accident. Something, however, is not happening thanks to these advances.
Satellite phone to free WiFi
Telecommunications services have in the mountains one of their biggest barriers. Beyond questions of population and profitability of investments in those areas, high mountains act as barriers to good transmission of signals . This is because the mountains create a topography that interferes with the signals and speeds, requiring more infrastructures is needed in a flat area such as a city or countryside.
One of the first systems of communication that reached these high peaks were satellite phones, allowing communication anywhere on the mountain. Since 2010, however, it began to offer 3G coverage on Everest. This means that climbers can be in constant contact with support teams or experts of the mountain. It even has 4G to more than 5,000 meters above sea level. This allows, for example, you can go to the mountains with a mobile 4G, such as the Asus ZenFone 2, which just adds weight to the gear for mountaineers and allows fast Internet connections to be equipped with 4G connectivity.
However, it should be noted that despite these improvements connective in high mountains like Everest, coverage is poorer than the rest of the world 82%, according to Open Signal.
In the case of Everest, throughout the ascension you may be finding different connection points to the last base camp.
Also the highest Japanese mountain, Mount Fuji, is going to offer free WiFi to all visitors in an attempt to make safer your climb. The free WiFi connection not only allows to be connected individually, but even the scientific equipment of all kinds might find easier to share their analysis and research if they go up to the mountains equipped with notebooks like the Asus VivoBook Flip.
The latest technology is therefore omnipresent on Everest: everyone at base camp has access to a mobile phone and Internet connection, making the mountain safer for all travelers. Even some local experts suggest that visitors have in their mobile identification cards issued all permits ascent.
This kind of passport to digital Everest contain data that could save the life of a climber or a Sherpa : photo climber, of course, but more importantly, a QR code analyzed with a smartphone by Rangers Everest, show all the information, experience, medical history, allergies, insurance, family, emergency phone numbers of every mountaineer.
Although this idea seems logical to us, it seems that people in Kathmandu were surprised the first time I heard about it in 2012.
Technology can also make safer the mountains. As mentioned earlier, nearly 300 people have lost their lives on Everest alone. One of every four climbers reaching the summit of Annapurna not get back. Most succumb to medical conditions such as edema, hypothermia and cardiac arrest after taking their bodies to the limit in conditions where breathing is very difficult. If you get sick in these areas, life is sometimes the limit and there is little chance of medical care.
But how many lives could be saved (on Everest or any other mountain), if doctors could make monitoring of vital signs of climbers remotely in real time and to sound the alarm when the situation is serious ?
They are already doing the first tests for the technology at the service of climbers.In addition, the system could provide health data file to help doctors decide on the best treatment based on each climber and physical conditions.
A GPS in hand
Positioning systems, the popular GPS are also a useful tool in the ascent to this type of mountains, especially during the last decade, when the use of GPS devices (Global Positioning System) has become common. It helps improve communication and receipt of the corresponding signals and the fact that many smartphones are equipped with GPS technology.
In this regard, GPS and mobile are especially helpful for rescuers in those latitudes where they can do their job without undue difficulty. If a mountain climber is lost, the mobile phone sends signals that it is easier to locate the position of latitude / longitude in which the person is, what eases the task of location.
There are even mobile applications that allow users to connect to the nearest emergency service.
Also Rockfax, an application that “democratizes” climbing experience and allows it personal. The guides are generally expensive. The app lets you buy individual guides. Climbers can register their promotions, community view photos and read the reviews.
FATMAP is a 3D map application for skiers, snowboarders and mountaineers. Its 3D models allow users to read the ground in new ways.
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Telemedicine to 8,000 meters
The fact that increasingly large mountains have telephone coverage also means that there are many more people who dare to climb safely such altitudes. This is the case for some people with diabetes, who have to keep a diary and comprehensive levels of blood glucose control.
Josu Feijoo is a mountaineer and adventurer who leads the project “Diabetics Without Borders”. It has made several expeditions to Everest base (5,350 meters) formed by four young men who, like him, have diabetes camp. All are equipped with service monitoring and remote control of the disease designed by Telefónica Digital.
During the time of adventure, climbers can use the service management of chronic patients knowing their clinical parameters will be supervised by medical professionals Axismed.
The advent of technology to these peaks as high allows, in case of an incident, the rescue teams know almost in real time the reason for the incident.
The B3 helicopters are designed to operate up to 23,000 feet. B3 have been constant for decades in various mountain destinations, especially in the Alps, where they have saved hundreds of lives. However, in Nepal, the B3 until recently had limited use. From the few experiences in this area is a flight of 2005 in which a French pilot landed reduced to a minimum on the summit of Everest model.
In recent years, Fishtail Air (the company helicopter rescue Nepal) in association with the helicopter company Swiss Air Zermatt, has deployed a small fleet for hundreds of successful evacuations in the country, including the rescue of a team three people to 23,000 feet in the Annapurna (the highest rescue helicopter history).
WiFi for more than Instagram
The fact that the highest and most dangerous mountains are equipped with the latest technology is a breakthrough for all mountaineers, especially at safety. Moreover, in a time when the audiovisual experience is necessary, the arrival of 4G to the higher areas of the planet allows you to watch high – definition video, and near real – time, expeditions are made.
The kindest face is found in those profiles that share your Instagram photos from the top of the world. The least expensive comforting for many is the massification of these altitudes and the fact that even in the most remote areas of the planet and to enjoy the silence.
Go to the end of the world with your technology
As we see, more and more sense to go completely equipped from the technological point of view to every corner of the world.
Technical advances are allowing even in the most unexpected (and even inhospitable) sites has all kinds of connectivity (4G or WiFi) that allows users’re permanently connected, to raise collective and individual security. In the case of the high mountains, yes, our devices should be as light as possible (as mentioned ZenFone 2 and VivoBook Flip) in order to add the slightest imaginable weight, without incurring a loss in the options and performance.
Performance and lightness therefore become a basic and fundamental binomial to go exploring the limits of the earth and of human endurance.