Our partner HandHeld is here with a compact and functional rugged handheld that withstands the harsh conditions of Mt. Everest, while allowing communication, entertainment, navigation and photography
Mount Everest expeditions are notoriously demanding on people and their electronic equipment.
The robust Nautiz X6 handheld device is designed for extreme temperatures and use on expeditions lasting several months.
While other electronics failed or were destroyed, the rugged Nautiz X6 handheld shone on Mount Everest, enabling communication, entertainment and photography.
Peter Urban and Eric Gran have been going to the mountains together for years. They regularly climb volcanoes in their home region of the Pacific Northwest in the United States, and have also climbed other large mountains around the world. This year they saw the world’s most famous mountain, Mt. Everest. They brought along their new climbing partner, the robust Nautiz X6 handheld device.
Equipment selection is a key aspect of any major expedition, alongside mountaineering training and experience. Everest is a particularly long expedition, lasting a full two months due to its extreme altitude. Part of the challenge on the way to the summit is to slowly adapt your body to the extreme altitude. You climb slowly and when you reach Camp 2 (21,000 ft) or 3 (24,000 ft), you return down to rest and recover before attempting the summit.
While we usually imagine climbers moving on in their specialised equipment, an important part of an Everest expedition is recovering in a tent. Peter’s wife Amy Urban is Marketing Director at Handheld US. “My wife suggested I take a Nautiz X6 with movies and videos to relax in the tent.
“It has a bright and clear screen, even when I’m outdoors. ”It’s also durable enough to withstand a two-month expedition,” says Peter. “After long days of climbing at high altitude, I was happy to be able to relax and watch movies while I recovered at night.”
After a 10-day trek to Everest Base Camp and an extra week of adjusting to the new altitude, the team set off for a 10-day acclimatisation to higher camps. Extreme altitude, bitter cold and harsh environments are taxing on the human body and on electronic devices.
“In the high camps, they destroyed all my electronics and smashed my mobile phone,” said Peter.
When they returned to base camp, they had access to poor Wi-Fi and limited mobile connectivity. Even those who brought the latest mobile devices had problems with Nepalese SIM cards.
“Although it was unlocked, I was unable to get the phone to work from base camp. When I took out the SIM card after destroying it in the high mountain camps, the Nautiz X6 booted up immediately. I called my wife in the US and told her that the Handheld Nautiz X6 was great, not only for watching movies in the tent, but it also gave me the only communication from Everest Base Camp at 17,500 ft!”
A big part of the Everest expedition is waiting for a weather window that will allow favourable conditions to reach the summit. This requires sophisticated meteorology and an understanding of mountains. As the attempt to reach the summit is a multi-day affair, it is important to ensure that you are in a position on the mountain where you can “push” yourself to the top in the right conditions. For most teams, this means getting to Camp 2 (21,000 ft), the most comfortable of the inhospitable high altitude camps on Everest.
“The Nautiz X6 worked so well and was now my only communication device and camera, so I took it with me when we set off on our way to the summit.”
After waiting in the snow and strong winds at Camp 2, the team spotted a potential weather window and decided to climb up to Camp 3. They knew that the current conditions would be difficult, but that they would be in a better position to move to the summit when the weather cleared.
As they headed through West Cwm, the wind was strong and there was a lot of snow. Movement at this altitude is difficult in the best of conditions, but poor visibility and strong winds made it particularly difficult. As they progressed and the weather deteriorated, they decided it would not be safe to continue, especially as the last part of the way to Camp 3 was the steep and treacherous Lhotse wall. They decided to return to Camp 2 and wait for better weather.
As the weather worsened, Peter noticed that his heart was not responding properly. Although he was fine until Camp 3 on the acclimatisation rotation, this time he was not. He checked his sports watch, which measured his heart rate, and found it frighteningly – and surprisingly given the effort – low.
The team was experienced in wilderness first aid and carried supplies that might be needed in remote emergencies. When they arrived back at Camp 2, they carried out a more thorough assessment and concluded that it was not safe for Peter to continue. Emergency helicopter evacuation was contacted by radio.
On Everest, Camp 2 at 21,000 ft. is the highest point where an emergency evacuation can happen, so not climbing Camp 3 that day was a fortunate decision that allowed Peter to be in a place where he could be evacuated.
Landing a helicopter at this altitude requires a lot of skill and good weather. Generally, the pilot flies alone, with as much equipment removed from the helicopter as possible to make it as light as possible. Fortunately, the weather cleared the next morning, allowing Peter to be safely evacuated and the rest of the team to move on to Camp 3 on their ascent to the summit.
After a night on oxygen and medication, Peter felt better and was able to use the Nautiz X6 rugged handheld device to film the dramatic scenery of the Khumbu Icefall, Everest Base Camp and the Kathmandu Valley on his helicopter trip to the hospital in Kathmandu. With good care and at a lower altitude, he recovered quickly.
Eric and the team continued to monitor the weather, which was particularly chaotic due to a strong cyclone from India directly affecting the mountain. After safely climbing and sleeping in Camp 3 and then in Camp 4, they reached 24. In the early hours of May, we found a very narrow window of suitable weather to reach the summit of Mount Everest. It was the expedition of a lifetime!
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Handheld Expert: Blaž Lepenik
Mojca Kugler, source: NAUTIZ X6 on Mount Everest. Handheld. 2023.