Scaling a mountain with an iPad (Part One)

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It is no secret that Apple's iPad Air has been quickly emerging as one of the single greatest mobile computing tools out there. The notion of its extreme mobility and wide application across a huge range of activities was explored with a poetic commercial demonstrating the iPad Air's myriad uses, asking consumers, “What will your verse be?” We thought we'd help provide some verses here. And so we present a specific examples of how Apple's tablet is being put to use in a world of endless possibility.

Scaling a mountain, iPad in tow
Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington are always looking to take themselves to new heights. In fact, that is their art. As mountain climbers, the pair regularly undertake mountaineering expeditions that test the limits of human endurance, pushing on into altitudes that were never meant to sustain human life. It is not ingrained in human nature to withstand extreme altitudes, but it is part of Ballinger and Harrington's natural curiosity to reject that fact – or at least find a way to circumnavigate it. Like any dangerous undertaking, preparation is far more important than the act itself. Prepping for a big climb can be an extremely cumbersome process. While the summit ascent usually only takes a day, that is just the tip of the iceberg (or in this case, the mountain). The full process can take more than a year. Fortunately, it's a process that the two climbers are able to make more efficient with their iPads every step of the journey.

Getting ready to face the mountain
The initial phase of the climb, preparation, can last anywhere from 180 to 270 days, according to Apple. This phase will represent the backbone of the expedition – the experiential insurance package that guarantees the mountain is ascended and (even more importantly) descended with proper care. Before the two began using their iPad, this process was even longer, since they had to use physical maps – many of which could be outdated – to chart their course. The iPad enables them to digitize this preliminary workload with an app called Gaia GPS, which allows them to view accurate and detailed mountain conditions.

“Five years ago, it was hard to even get a paper map of some of these places,” Ballinger told Apple. “Now with the iPad it's remarkable how much we can plan ahead.”

Starting to brave the conditions
For a person taken from sea level and dropped at the top of Mount Everest, loss of consciousness would arrive quickly, according to CYFERnet. Death would come not long after. That is why the acclimatization phase exists for extreme altitude climbers. For Ballinger and Harrington, this phase usually takes place at 15,000 to 18,500 feet and lasts up to 56 days. Physically, it is the most critical phase because it systematically trains the human body to withstand the effects of extreme altitude. The training takes the form of progressively higher climbs on the mountain to build up the red blood cells necessary to survive at the peak. This could sound like an uneventful and lonely phase, but for the two climbers it's made more colorful with the addition of their iPads. Getting acclimated means a lot of downtime, and Ballinger and Harrington use that time to connect with the world below via their trusty tablet. Blog posts, social media updates and snapshots are some of the ways they use their iPads to stay connected and document their progress. 

“These are powerful and life-changing experiences,” Ballinger said of their mountain ascents. “And I love getting to share them with others.” The iPad makes that type of sharing not only possible, but easy. 

Mitigating risk at high altitude
Of course, there is a huge risk to taking iPads into sub-zero conditions, since long-term exposure to these temperatures can easily lead to permanent damage and the need for an iPad repair. And as Ballinger and Harrington get higher on the mountain, it becomes important not only that they monitor their own safety, but also the safety of their tablets. 

Tune in to Part Two to hear how these mountaineers reach the summit, and how their iPads continue to lend a helping hand. 

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