Wednesday, June 21, 2017

What really happened on the day that Ueli Steck fell from Nuptse?

What really happened on the day that Ueli Steck fell from Nuptse? 
The person who found him shares some interesting clues...

Vinayak Jaya Malla is a Nepalese In-Training Mountain Guide and the person who found Ueli Steck while climbing up to C2 on Everest with a group on April 30, 2017. The author (Dr. Leo Montejo) met Vinay in 2016 while climbing the Sky Caves of Mustang in Nepal, and was impressed by his skill and manner while on the mountain. He saw him again this year at Everest Base Camp shortly before Vinay summitted with a group from the Indian Navy. His story of what may have happened is filled with great respect and admiration for Ueli, and it is also a first glimpse and analysis as to what probably occurred that morning on the slopes of Nuptse.

 Vinay, at Everest Base Camp about 10 days before Ueli's accident on Nuptse

# I understand you were with Mingma Sherpa when you found Ueli on April 30. What were the two of you doing in the area of the accident?

We were not together that morning of April 30. In fact, I had slept at Camp 1 and Mingma was descending from Camp 3. He was headed down the mountain towards base camp with clients, and I was going up with my group. We met along the way, about 300m from where we found Ueli, somewhere between camp 1 and camp 2.

I had left Camp 1 at 7am and we met up with MIngma and his group at around 09:10 AM. We found Ueli at exactly 09:34 AM.

# What was the weather like that day? Do you remember if it was any colder or warmer than usual?

The weather was excellent - not a cloud in the sky, no wind - a sunny day! If anything, I remember walking on the Western Cwm and feeling very hot that morning because of the sun and its reflection on the snow.

# What about winds up higher ?  Any winds the night before? If one looked up at Everest, did it have a plume? (cloud indicating high winds)

Again, there was no wind, the top of Everest had no plume, so it was probably calm up higher.

# What were you doing when you found a climber with no life, and how far away was he from from your path?

Earlier I had seen somebody climbing up towards Nuptse, and at one point I heard a sound of something falling. I looked up again, and did not see this person anymore, so I suspected this climber may have fallen. When I met with Mingma, I told him of this, and we both walked in the direction of the place where I had heard the sound, and as I got closer, I recognized who it was immediately. I knew his face and his jacket with his sponsor's name in green.

I immediately contacted base camp by radio. He could not have survived the fall. I gave all the details including time, place, condition of climber, etc. I took a picture, which is why I know the exact time, and had my radio contact notify Tengi (Ueli's climbing partner) immediately. This was some 300m from where Mingma and I had met earlier.

# How long do you think Ueli had been there?

I would guess some 45 minutes. As I said earlier, I had seen somebody climbing Nuptse, and then the sound of the fall. When I met with Mingma, we agreed to go together to see what may have happened.

#How did the recovery take place?

The accident area was not safe and rocks could fall at any time. We therefore returned to where Mingma and I had met earlier and he continued down with his clients. Shortly after, I met up with Pema Cheri Dai who had a stretcher. His two clients also came to help us, and among them one was an IFMGA guide from Peru (Victor) and another climber from Iran. We returned to the accident scene, collected his stuff, placed Ueli on the stretcher, and  brought him back to where we had met earlier. Without team work we could not have done this. From base camp,  Lakpa Norbu Sherpa (HRA) helped us in communicating with helicopter pilot Maurizio Folini of Fishtail Air who flew Ueli back to Kathmandu.

# It is guessed that he fell some 1000m. Do you have any ideas on this? How far do you think he was from the summit?

I think he fell some 800-900m. When I last saw him, he was on a ridge that is 7100-7200m. Any higher and I would not have been able to see him. Nuptse is 7861m high and Camp 2 is at 6400m. If we assume he was at 7100-7200m and subtract 6300m (below camp 2) we are left with 800-900m.

# What equipment was he using when he fell? Helmet? Crampons? Gloves? Radio? What type of ice axes and how many did you find?

We all knew his climbing style: Light and fast. He was wearing Scarpa Phantom 6000 boots, Petzl Irvis Hybrid crampons, a good jacket and pants, and he was carrying a small bag of water, a candybar, a GPS and a camera.

I did not see a helmet, nor was he wearing gloves. He was also not wearing a harness. I did not find an ice axe, nor did I see his poles. These may have ended up on the mountain. I cannot speculate.

# Tell me more about what he was wearing.  Do you think he was wearing appropriate clothing for the conditions higher up on Nuptse?

In my opinion we has dressed appropriately for a sunny day in the Himalayas. But I did not see gloves on his hands.

# It is believed that he had left his tent at 04:30 AM. Do you think this is probably right?

I think this sounds right. He was a well known speed climber and was used to Alpine starts early in the morning. The day before, on April 29 he had been there with Yanick up to 6800m and they had left  some gear up there. That morning he climbed solo and made it up to the ridge.

#Was anybody else on Nuptse that day?

To my knowledge, no - Ueli was alone.

# Did you realize right away that this was Ueli Steck when you found him?

I had seen him at base camp several times. He was wearing the same jacket with his sponsor's logo. Of course, I also recognized his face.

# Did you also help collect his belongings on camp 2?

At camp 2, in the evening of the day of the accident, a French climber and his guide Pemba and myself went to see his tent. It was only 2 minutes away from mine. I helped pack his belongings.

In the tent we packed his sleeping bag,  food, and another pair of boots with crampons.

But a couple of things suprised me...

We found a 5mm 50m rope, as well as his ice axes. I have always believed that a climber should carry a rope, even if he does not intend to use it. What if bad weather gets in the way or if you need a safe rest? A rope is very useful. Even more when you are solo. But I guess he left his rope behind.

Second, his ice axes. Personally, I cannot imagine climbing without them. Either he took his poles up the mountain, or another pair of ice axes were lost during the fall. We never found either. My guess is that he went up Nuptse with trekking poles.

# You summitted Everest some 20 days after this, and you are also an accomplished climber. What would you have taken on the climb to Nuptse that Ueli did not take that day?

First, let me make very clear that I respected him very much. But I am not a solo climber, and of course I would not have gone up there by myself. More than anything else, a climbing partner is perhaps what would have been most valuable.

#Have you climbed Nuptse? Nuptse is in fact seven peaks. Was he climbing Nuptse 1? Is this considered a difficult climb?

No, I have not climbed Nuptse. Ueli was climbing Nuptse 1 and did not use the standard route. From camp 2 he went up the glacier on a block of ice, and then continued on a 70-75 degree mixed wall of ice and snow. The wall then traverses to the ridge which is also a mix of rock, ice, and snow.

#Finally, Vinay, what do you think happened that day? 

I heartily respected Ueli and his climbing style. He grew up in the Swiss Alps and he had won twice the Piolet d'Or, the highest climbing honor.

I think several things could have happened. Again, I stress that I very much respected his climbing style.

I saw a rock the size of a football stained with some blood nearby. I think that this rock may have fallen and hit him on the head. Or maybe he hit it on the way down. He was not wearing a helmet and I also saw that the back part of his head had been hit, probably by this rock.

When I found Ueli, I noticed that one of his crampons was missing from his boots. A loose crampon could definitely contribute to a fall. This can happen with any type of crampon, and it has even happened to me several times while climbing the icefall. Crampon performance depends a lot on the boots you are wearing and how carefully you have attached them. But they could have fallen off during the fall - who knows...

Ueli was not wearing a harness when we found him. Solo climbers usually do. When they need a rest, when they are tired, when it's hard to continue, they can use a safety line and they then attach it to their harness. It is possible that he was tired when he came up to a difficult section, and then he fell. As I said earlier, he did not have a rope either.I have always believed that a climber should always carry a rope; even if he does not intend to use it. What if hard sections come when back climbing? A rope (5 mm, 50m) is very useful.

I think he used his trekking poles for the climb. That was his climbing style for a mountain with an easy slope. I didn’t see an ice axe at the scene of the accident. But I did see a pair of ice axes in his tent. Maybe he underestimated Nuptse……

After Tengi (Ueli's climbing partner who was to accompany him)  got frostbite in his hands, the doctor told him that he would not be able to climb this season anymore. All the Sherpas knew he had a great project. And he knew that world was following him. I talked with many different people who were close to him. They said “ he was upset after the Doctor's decision to keep his partner from climbing with him,  and that he was not behaving as before".

On the 29th, a French climber by the name of Yannick Grazaiani went briefly up the Nuptse face to look for a climbing route and then came back to camp. The plan was perhaps to climb Nuptse with Ueli but Graziani's climbing company stopped him from doing so because he did not have a climbing permit for Nuptse. So Ueli went at it alone...

#Anything else you'd like to add?

If you have been to the Himalayas, you will often see Bharal, blue sheep, very high on the mountains. They are very agile and fast so as to protect themselves from snow leopards. But sometimes, blue sheep fall off from cliffs. Each time they do, there is a different reason. Sometimes they fall due to rock fall, other times, they have perhaps run too fast, etc.

Perhaps we must think of Ueli as such - as a Bharal, as one of our blue sheep of the Himalayas who one day fell for an unexpected reason but was otherwise a master.

#Thanks for this beautiful interpretation

Addendum June 27

A few people have been asking me about what's new here. In fact, what is interesting about Vinayak's account is not what he saw, but more importantly what he did NOT see. Check out the picture below of Ueli at Island Peak a while back, but in which we can see his gear and his climbing habits:


Ueli Steck at Island Peak

Helmet: As seen from the above picture, he rarely wore one. He did wear one at Annapurna and it saved his life after being hit by a rock and bashing it. He apparently briefly lost consciousness, slid down the mountain, but was able to recover.

Harness: The Sherpa did not find one on Ueli - for whatever reason. In his Island Peak picture, he is wearing a Petzl Alpine harness, but no locking carabiner on his center loop, no slings, no ascender (Jumar), no safety carabiner to attach himself to a rope on his center loop. 

Gloves: Vinayak did not find any on his hands, but if he was wearing mittens such as those in the above picture, these could fall easily. But usually also one wears light liners underneath...

Ice Axe: No ice axe in this picture and the last 300m at Island Peak are pretty vertical. You can see he used a trekking pole. Most use trekking poles up to the glacier, and then switch to an ice axe at the steep part, while leaving the poles there to be picked up on the way down.

Crampons: He is wearing hybrids, as described by Vinayak. 

Oxygen: Curiously he has an oxygen mask in this picture - Island Peak is about 900m lower than the place from which Ueli seems to have fallen, but this may have been during his earlier climbing career or other reason. ( In fact I've been corrected - this is NOT an O2 mask but rather a mask to keep the face warm and rebreathe warmer air... )

In short, the article is more about what was NOT found than what WAS found. I believe that if we want more clues we need Yannick Graziaini to tell us what stash they left they day before at some 6800m and for what reason. What were their plans before he was prevented from accompanying Ueli? What was the route they took like? Did he use an ice axe the day before? Did he mention any issues with his crampons? Was there much loose rock? (Vinayak says there was much where they found him.)

In short, the purpose here was not try in any way to judge Ueli our outsmart the educated reader. It was an opening into what may have happened and what did not happen, and for those who are into detective work, there are many questions that remained unanswered here. 

I am sure the mountain still holds some clues up there too.

Addendum July 6:

Vinayak has contacted me and told me that he received a message from Yannick Grazaiani: 

"Hello Vinayak - I have read the article about your testimony of Ueli Steck. You made one mistake. Of course Ueli had ice axes. When I went to the bottom of Nuptse we left our tools there. He didn't want to climb Nuptse with ski-poles only. Maybe you can correct that. Hope everything is fine with you. All the best Yannick."


About the author:

Dr. Leo Montejo has been to the Himalayas four times both on expeditions and climbs. He is an anesthesiologist and also the founder of WiCis, a company specializing in real time vital signs for telemedicine. The systems he has designed have monitored climbers vital signs live, while climbing K2 and Everest and other high mountains of the world.

Dr. Leo Montejo, in the Sierra Nevada next to Lake Tahoe

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Communications Guide for the Khumbu Everest Region of Nepal


If you are traveling to Nepal, and headed towards Everest BC or higher, the first question you will ask yourself is how to best stay in touch.




For 2017, we did our homework, and these are our recommendations...

What to Pack 
  1. Unlocked Android Phone
  2. Sleeve to protect your Android phone - we damaged ours during our last trip!
  3. I-Streme App installed on your unlocked phone
  4. Portable Charger External Battery Pack to maintain your smartphone and Thuraya charged at all times. (Note this pack has TWO outputs!)
  5. Solar Panel (we use this one)
  6. Wearables (HR, Pulse Oximetry) to keep track of your health that are I-Streme compatible
  7. Thuraya Satsleeve + with a GmPRS SIM card for a data plan
  8. Thuraya Satsleeve App installed on your smartphone (for voice)
  9. DeLorme inReach if you are a minimalist and do not wish to have comprehensive weather updates, send pics, unlimited text, tweet, stream wearables/biometrics as often as you want...
3G, Wi-Fi or Satellite

No different than anywhere else, these are your three main options - and yet this is Nepal so don't expect any fluid transition between these.
  1. 3G: Ncell will be your local and inexpensive 3G provider
  2. Wi-Fi: Everest-Link will be your main Wi-Fi provider further up the mountain
  3. Satellite: Thuraya if you want voice or serious data capabilities (mail, I-Streme, pics, etc. or Iridium (inReach) if you are a minimalist...
On Arrival - Kathmandu (1400m)

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As soon as you reach your hotel in Kathmandu, ask the front desk where the nearest Ncell store is located. There are many all over the city, so don't expect more than a 10 minute walk to the store. Do not pay any extra fees for internet access at your hotel - these will be expensive and useless after your trip to Ncell.

At the Ncell store, request a SIM card for your unlocked phone which they will quickly install. You will be asked how much airtime (voice) and data you wish to purchase. For a month in Nepal, we bought 5 gigabytes of data and some 240 minutes of voice time, all for some $20.

As you walk out of the store, you are connected to the internet! You will notice a new icon that appears on your android screen for Ncell. Swipe down and select it to review your data, as well as to see that a switch for "Data" is ON. (More on this later...) Now call home: 00 + country code + home phone, say hello to your family. At the end of your 2 minute call you will receive a text message showing you how much you spent... (2 minutes will cost you 5 rupies meaning some 5 US cents - yes we are not kidding...) Check your email, start up your I-Streme app, and allow it to stream to your followers your location and even post a tweet with it.

Back at the hotel, if you brought a Thuraya Satsleeve, this is a good time to test it. Find a clear spot, perhaps in your hotel lawn or pool area. Pull out its antenna FULLY, and turn the device ON. Face South. On your smartphone, go to Wi-Fi, and find your Thuraya. Select it since it will become your hotspot. For your first time use, enter the password for the Thuraya: 12345678  Once your smarthphone is connected to the Thuraya Satsleeve, you will see "Connected - No Internet". (This means that your smartphone is now connected to the satsleeve, but that the satsleeve still has not connected to the Thuraya satellite.) For your Thuraya to work with the smartphone, it must not compete with Ncell, so at this point, find the Ncell icon on the top of your screen, swipe it down, and turn data OFF for Ncell. You can now use your Thuraya with one of two apps - the Thuraya App for making phone calls, or the I-Streme app to send live data to your dashboard. (More on this later...)

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Turn Cellular data OFF (as above) on Ncell if you want to use your Thuraya

Enjoy the rest of your day in Tamel or visiting local sites while being as connected or better than any local!

Airport Tips for Flight from KTM to Lukla

Your duffel(s) and backpack will be weighed in KTM and most airlines have set a limit of 20 kgs per person. You will also be weighed.
  • Pack lightly and weigh everything before you leave home.
  • To avoid surcharges, place batteries and any other materials in your pockets. (These will be weighed too, but not counted as baggage
  • If you are part of an Expedition, all items from your group will be pooled together.
  • Your bags may leave ahead of you or behind you. Don't worry - you'll find them in Lukla. 
  • Mark your duffel bags well, have locks on them
  • If you are part of a group, ask the leader for the common ribbon identifier that will be placed on your duffel(s) so that porters will be easily able to identify them as part of your group's gear.
  • Remember that your duffel(s) will be either traveling on porter's backs or yaks, and will be knocked around quite a bit on the way to basecamp.

Your Backpack  and other Self-Care Tips

There are many teahouses and stops from Lukla to Basecamp so you will never have a need to carry more than 2 liters of water. In fact, if you are wary about taking too much weight, you can safely come down to 1 liter since there are many places for you to stop.

We always bought bottled water and then placed it into our Camelbak, and found the water perfectly safe. If you buy boiled water (remember at altitude, water will boil at lower temperatures and therefore will be "less sterile") we recommend that you use a Steripen to further sterlize your water. 

Always keep in your backpack some rain-gear. -(outer shell jacket and pants) that will keep you dry in case of rain.

We always carry an extra pair of dry socks.

Always keep an extra layer that you can put on or shed depending on the temperature outside. (A light down jacket weighs little and is ideal.)

For gloves, up until above 5000m, medium-thickness liners are mostly adequate, especially once you get moving.

Use plenty of sunscreen and lip balm. 

Use a light hat that will cover your ears.

Carry a couple of Snickers' bars on your backpack at all times in case you get hungry or your blood sugar needs a boost.

Trim your toenails and keep a good eye on the well being of your feet on a daily basis. (DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THIS!)

Trekking pole(s) are extremely useful.

Lukla (2860m)

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All roads to Everest go through Lukla and no doubt you will be flying there either one or two days after arrival into Kathmandu.

The flight to Lukla will be unforgettable, and quick, but once you land there, prepare for your first possible communications gap...

Of all the places you will visit on your way to Everest BC or above, Lukla is perhaps the place where you will have the most problems staying in touch:
  1. Ncell: The trusty connectivity you had in Kathmandu will not work well here. If you really want to use it, ask locals for spots that they recommend for cell reception. (Ncell energy vortexes...)
  2. Wi-Fi: This is at best sketchy and rarely reliable in Lukla. Everest-Link will not work here either.
  3. Thuraya Satsleeve: If you are serious about communications, you brought one of these along, and it will work. Make sure you point its omni-directional antenna to the South.  
CAVEAT: FOR THE THURAYA TO WORK YOU MUST SWIPE THE NCELL ICON DOWN, AND TURN OFF NCELL DATA. FOR SOME REASON, NCELL SEEMS TO HIJACK ALL DATA COMMUNICATIONS IF DATA IS ON, EVEN THOUGH IT CANNOT CONNECT.

Phakding (2610m)

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This will probably be your first stop after Lukla, and Ncell should work better again. VERIFY THAT NCELL DATA IS ON AGAIN - YOU WILL GET USED TO CHECKING THIS OFTEN DEPENDING ON WHETHER YOU ARE USING THURAYA OR NCELL. Use I-Streme to stream your location, tweet, text, send pictures.

Thuraya will also work well here - again, point the antenna South.

Namche Bazaar (3440m)

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Namche will make you feel as if you were back in Kathmandu with regards to communications! Ncell will work well, and there are great mountaineering shops in case you now realize you are missing something for your goals further up: Black Diamond ice axes, La Sportiva boots, carabiners, Gore-Tex Arcteryx jackets, you name it - all are available here, and with similar prices as to those found in Europe or the United States. Use your credit card too!

Shop, eat well, hydrate, rest, and stream with I-Streme your location as well as your vital signs. You will begin to fell the altitude now.

Some expeditions will stop here for a rest day and do an acclimatization hike to the Everest View Hotel Lodge. Ncell should work well there too!

Tengboche (3870m)

Tengboche monastery-Nmnogueira.jpg

At Tengboche, you will begin to leave Ncell territory and enter the world of Everest-Link. Ncell may work at times, if you ask the locals where to best have a signal.  (Look for the Ncell energy vortex...)

Your group may decide to stay here, or head on to to Debuche, which is nearby.

Pengboche (3985m)

Ama Dablam view from Pengboche

You are now in Everest-Link and Thuraya territory. Although Ncell may work very spottily in some places (the locals will tell you of specific magic spots or vortexes, where you can find a signal) the former are they way to go.

Time to introduce you to Everest-Link: This company started its business out of Namche, and its goal is to provide connectivity to the villages above Namche on your way to Everest, as well as Everest basecamp. Their current system for connectivity is at best awkward, and works most of the time. At any lodge, ask the front desk person for an Everest Link card. You can buy something like 250 mb of data for $5. Scratch the card, and you will have a username and password, to use. Find Everest Link on your phone's Wi-Fi, and if you are lucky you will get a decent connection. In reality, we found the connectivity spotty. That is, one minute, you can have great bandwidth, and even video capabilities, and the next you are down to zero. All this is probably dependent on how many people want to connect to Everest-Link at the same time.

Thuraya will work well here. Again, don't forget to turn OFF Ncell data if you want to use your satsleeve...

Dingboche (4410m)

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Solidly into Everest-Link territory, you can use your scratch cards to stay in touch inexpensively. Stream your location, vitals, send pics, text, all with I-Streme.  Thuraya of course, works well too.

There are a couple of bakeries at Dingboche, and you can enjoy a capuccino with a croissant, while you watch a movie. Relax, hydrate, rest and stay in touch with I-Streme.

If the altitude is getting to you by now, this is normal. Mild headaches and nausea are common. Watch for signs of AMS!

Lobuche (4940m)

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At near 5000m, you are now not far from Everest Base Camp! Thuraya and Everest-Link are still your best friends. 

Buy more scratch tickets at the lodge for Everest-Link or use Thuraya for intermittent streaming of data with I-Streme. 

Gorak Shep (5164m)

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At the world's highest lodge, Everest-Link will work. If you are climbing Kala-Patthar, use Thuraya and I-Streme to document it! This will take you up well above Everest BC altitude: 5,644 m or 18,519 ft.

After you return, and before you leave for basecamp, consider buying Everest Link cards that are basecamp-specific. Your lodge card codes will not work at basecamp! (Save them for the way down...)

Everest Base Camp (5335m)

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This is solid Everest-Link and Thuraya territory. And as mentioned earlier, Everest-Link has a twist here... If you have scratch tickets with extra data available from the lodges below, these will NOT work here. You will need Everest-Link scratch tickets that are specific for basecamp!

Thuraya works well here. If you have a Thuraya IP+, you are gold for even video-conferencing from basecamp. Again, point your device South, and verify that you have Ncell data turned OFF on your smartphone.

Some Sherpas have found magic spots for Ncell at basecamp - ask around. There is a tent at basecamp, usually near the Russell Bryce camp where you can buy Everest-Link tickets.

Above Everest BC (> 5335m) or on-the-trail in-between Villages

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I-STREME

I-Streme plus your Thuraya Satsleeve will be your  best options to stay in touch. 

Connecting I-Streme to the Thuraya Satsleeve for the first time is simple if you follow these steps:
  • On your smartphone, close I-Streme if you have been using it before
  • Turn ON your Thuraya Satsleeve by holding its button for a few seconds.
  • Once ON, go to your smartphone and look for the Satsleeve on your Wi-Fi Settings and select it. (First password is 12345678).
  • Start I-Streme. You will notice that I-Streme will immediately detect that your Thuraya satsleeve is ON and present. Select "Enable" when asked if you want to connect to Thuraya.
  • Your smartphone and I-Streme are now ready to send data to your personal web dashboard!
Personal dashboard with actual data from Island Peak Base Camp

While I-Streme is capable of streaming data every second for those who are following you, we do not recommend that you do this while using Thuraya unless you have an unlimited budget and have an easy way to keep your phone and your satsleeve's battery charged in the most inhospitable of places!

Instead, use the Satellite Messenger Mode option of I-Streme. Typically what we use is 1 data packet every 5 minutes. Go to Settings in your I-Streme app, find Satellite Messenger Mode, and select 5 minutes as your data interval. 

Note Transmission Interval set at 5 minutes

The app will control the Thuraya satsleeve and every 5 minutes, briefly open a satellite connection, stream your location and vital signs information to your dashboard, and then turn the connection off, thus saving you a major bill at the end of your climb. You can decide how often you send data. We chose 5 minutes since this is only 12K per hour of data while you are climbing.

The I-Streme app, with the Thuraya Satsleeve, will also allow you to text, send pictures, tweet, chat, and even read weather and forecasts for your exact GPS location. Think safety!

Keeping your batteries charged

While in the Khumbu region this is not a real challenge, but here are some recommendations:
  • If you did NOT bring a solar panel with you, make sure that at every stop, you charge your RAV battery pack at the teahouse lodge you are staying at. They will charge you for this, and the price will go up the higher you go. A full charge above 5000m may cost you up to $5. Down below, maybe $2. 
  • If you DO have a Voltaic Solar system, we suggest you pay your porter an extra tip per day and he will carry it for you on his backpack while charging its battery. (This of course if you are not a veteran of high altitude in the Himalayas - and can handle its extra weight of 3.6 lbs). 
Thuraya Satsleeve on Backpack - Ama Dablam in Background

Questions???  Click on "Contact" on the wicis-sports website, and send us your concern.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

WiCis-Sports wins Thuraya Innovation Award 2016 for Best App

I-Streme Award for Best App

On November 15, at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, The Palm Dubai, Adams Hub coworking member company WiCis received the Thuraya 2016 Innovation Award for Best App. The Tahoe-based company received the international honor for its newly-launched WiCis Sports I-Streme App, a disruptive technology for the outdoors which promises to render satellite messengers and sports watches obsolete.  I-Streme works anywhere on the planet with WIFI, 3G, 4G or satellite. Its purpose is to "monitor, share and protect" by transmitting data about the user's geolocation, altitude and speed, as well as their biometrics.

Thuraya, a leading mobile satellite communications company, serves global customers that include industry leaders from sectors such as energy, media, marine, government, and NGOs. Thuraya's technology has been embraced by adventure travel and extreme sports enthusiasts.

"The awards are a great catalyst for the creation of new ideas, products and applications, because they draw upon the creative skills of our development partners," said Bilal Hamoui, Thuraya'sChief Commercial Officer.

The I-Streme© app connects and protects users while running, boating, hiking and climbing. I-Streme-enabled wearables also produce medical-quality biometrics, including oxygen, heart rate and body temperature, and can transmit them as frequently as the user desires, enabling athletes and adventurers to be closely and continuously monitored during demanding adventures and climbs.

Data produced by I-Streme can be viewed on any platform, including iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry. WiCis I-Streme is built for social sharing, making it easy for followers to track their favorite adventurer regardless of where they are in the world. The app enables users to send texts to their public dashboards and get SpotCast weather information live wherever they are. Data is also stored so the user can review it any time.

WiCis I-Streme© integrates with an array of proven wearables and technology, which the company's development team members have personally field-tested in the Sierra and Himalaya. A recent expedition to Everest by WiCis, in conjunction with Thuraya, was live-streamed on its public dashboard, using the I-Streme app.

About WiCis-Sports: http://wicis-sports.com
Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo (also founder of Picis), and in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social media platforms.

Dr Leo Montejo did his residency at Harvard in anesthesiology and critical care medicine, has been a Professor at Stanford in this specialty, and is an extreme sports enthusiast. Dr. Montejo has participated in three Himalayan expeditions.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Carlota - our Marketing Guru tests our solution...

I hiked up to Mount Diablo today with our WiCis-Sports gear and app, and I loved it. It was so simple to connect my device with the app. In just 3 steps everything was working!

Ease of Use
Step 1 - Click: I attached the heart rate monitor to my shirt.
Step 2 - Load: I started the Wicis App on my Samsung and loaded the heart monitor driver (the app can load drivers for very different devices).
Step 3- Stream: Nothing do to - the app just started streaming data GPS and wearable data to the web (my personal public dashboard) in real time.

I posted a video on twitter showing how easy this was.

Comfort
The shirt with the wearable was my base layer, and it was very comfortable - I didn't even notice that I was wearing it! The hike was beautiful, we climbed up to 3,500 feet, and there were two spots that were a big challenging for me: The first one, when I started, and the other when I almost reached the summit. What's interesting is that when I returned home I opened my WiCis-Sports dashboard and clicked on the hart rate widget's history and saw the data reflecting this - two spikes in the graph...




App Resilience
What I really liked also is that when I lost my 4G in several spots, the app stopped sending data but let me know about tit. As soon as my phone recovered its 4G, the WiCis-Sports app started streaming data again automatically. I didn't have to do anything!

Conclusions
The hike was great and when you reach the top, you can breathe and relax your mind with the 360 degree views of the Bay Area. The app allowed me to also take a picture from the top and send it to my public dashboard on the web.

Setup of the app (Click, Load and Stream) took me about a minute. Once I was streaming, I even forgot that I was wearing a heart monitor. During the climb, whenever I chose to, I checked my heart rate, altitude, and speed in real time. I knew I was streaming this data because the app at all times shows me if its connected to the WiCis server.

When I returned, I checked my heart rate history, altitude history, speed and my email. I even had friends in Europe that had watched me!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

WiCis-Sports in the Himalayas

While we have tested extensively our system in the Sierra Nevada  (Western United States), we have yet to take it to the Himalayas.

We will begin streaming from Jomsom, Nepal on March 19th. Jomsom is at 9,000 feet, and is the entry point to many climbs in the Himalayas. From Jomsom, one can see the Dhaulagiri and Nilgiri peaks.

You will be able to follow the participants' heart rate, ECG, respiratory rate and waveform, temperature, and intermittent pulse oximetry, along with geo-location, speed, altitude, and bearing, all live! That is, that from anywhere in the world with an internet connected device, you will lag only about 1 second behind real time.

There are three links to follow.

Adventurer 1

Adventurer 2

Adventurer 3

We will be tweeting as to whenever these are live. We plan to send live data some 4-6 hours per day, some while climbing, some at camp.

Expect much new data for high altitude physiology enthusiasts! There is little data on live ECG at altitude for instance.

Thanks for following!