One of the most essential aspects of preparing for a Mount Everest expedition is kit planning. The kit I choose to take with me will be my lifeline. This kit will have to be my protection against temperatures of -40c, my protection from howling winds and my protection from powerful sun rays.
Over the past few months I have been avidly researching gear, talking to different brands about their products and making decisions on what will work best for me at over 8,000m. For my 2017 Everest Expedition, Tiso are my headline sponsor. Having the support and expertise of this leading outdoor equipment retailer has proved to be invaluable in my preparations for returning to Mount Everest. Tiso’s long relationship with Mount Everest began in 1972, when co-founder Graham Tiso joined an Everest expedition lead by Sir Chris Bonnington, Graham was given the huge responsibility of organising the kit for the expedition. In 2000, Tiso returned to Mount Everest with current CEO Chris Tiso, again taking great pride in organising the extensive equipment needed. With this long history of preparing for Everest expedition, I couldn’t think of a better sponsor.
Throughout the Everest expedition keeping warm will be one of the major challenges. On my Everest summit day temperatures may reach as low as -40c. At this point I will be relying heavily on my clothing and equipment for survival. Down clothing is the best possible insulation for high altitude. Down is lightweight, packable and incredibly warm. For my 2017 expedition I have chosen RAB for my down clothing. I used RAB products extensively on my 2012 Everest expedition and they performed incredibly well. RAB are also RDS (Responsible Down Standard) Certified, this means that the entire down supply chain can be traced, RAB products adhere to the highest possible animal welfare and safety standards. This spring, I will be taking a RAB expedition suit, which is basically a super warm, down filled, onesie. I will also be taking a pair of expedition mitts, a positron jacket and a microlight alpine jacket. RAB also make great down expedition sleeping bags, for Everest I need two, one to leave at basecamp and one to take higher on the mountain during acclimatisation rotations. I will be taking a RAB expedition 1200, with a sleep limit of -35c and also a RAB expedition 1400 rated to -40c. With this amount of down insulation I shouldn’t be getting cold!
When climbing at high altitude, protection from the sun is incredibly important. On the summit of Everest I will be 8,848m closer to the sun than I am at home, this makes the UV rays from the sun so much stronger. Covering skin, wearing a sun hat and having high factor sun cream are all essential. One of the other main aspects I need to think about is eye protection. Snow blindness is all too common on high mountains. Snow blindness is a painful loss of eyesight due to exposure to UV rays from the sun, essentially it is a sunburnt cornea. Snow blindness is usually temporary and you will recover after many hours of rest. However, going blind on Mount Everest would be a very dangerous and scary situation to be in. To protect from this, I need to wear cat 4 rated glacier glasses or goggles at all times when the sun is out. Glacier glasses hug the sides of your cheeks to stop light bouncing off of the snow or rock surface and into your eyes, they are also 100% UVA and UVB blocking.
On my 2012 Everest expedition I took very little technology with me. I only had a pay as you go Nokia phone, a compact camera and my Kindle for entertainment. In a way, it was nice to break from the technology we rely on so heavily back home. But I was also a bit jealous of my teammates with fancy technology, sat phones, GoPro’s, laptops and iPads…they could easily contact home, edit photos and videos and even watch movies in their tents at basecamp. This year, heading to Everest is a different story, I have more technology than ever before!
Film and photography
While on the expedition I am hoping to take as much video and imagery as possible to share the experience with people back home. My first port of call for this is GoPro, I will be taking a new GoPro Hero 5 on the expedition and plenty of spare batteries. The newest version of GoPro allows for 4K video, 12mp photos and also has advanced video stabilisation, to avoid shaky climbing footage. I will also be taking a Nikon DSLR camera for photography at basecamp and advanced basecamp and then my trusty compact camera as back up on summit day.
For my 2012 Everest expedition I took with me a £7.99 Casio watch from Argos, it worked surprisingly well all the way to the summit for time and alarm clock. However, watches can offer so much more than just these basic functions. This Spring I have got my hands on a Sunto Core watch, this device is a proper mountain watch. With its inbuilt altimeter, barometer, compass, thermometer and storm alarm I will have access to all of these safety features attached to my wrist!
One of the most exciting pieces of technology I am taking to Mount Everest this spring is a brand new Garmin inReach Explorer +. This is a handheld satellite communicator. On the north side of Mount Everest we will have very little internet access or phone signal, this is where the Garmin device comes into its own. Using 100% Global Iridium satellite coverage I will be able to send and receive text messages with any mobile or email address, update social media and also allow live tracking of my journey. With this device you will be able to track my journey on Mount Everest using 3D tracking.
With this large amount of technology I am taking on my expedition, one of the other main issues I need to address is charging batteries. Cold temperatures zap battery life incredibly quickly. For my devices without removable batteries I will be relying on solar energy. The brand, Goal Zero, make some brilliant solar panels and powerpacks for this purpose. I will be using a Goal Zero Nomad 13 solar panel which I can charge my devices directly from. I will also be taking a Goal Zero Sherpa 50 power pack, this pack I can charge fully from the solar panel and then charge devices at night, including my laptop.
You will be able to follow my Everest 2017 expedition on the Tiso website here. Check out the below slider of my favorite Tiso products that I will be using on Mount Everest this spring!