Using technology to stay in touch with friends and relatives on the other side of the world is nothing new. But South African mountaineers Robby Kojetin and John Black are literally taking blogging and email to new heights: they're keeping in touch with friends and family from Mount Everest, where they hope to summit this week.
While acclimatising back in base camp after their climbing sessions up the mountain, Kojetin and Black are using modern communications technology to share their experiences with fans back home via an online blog post – complete with stunning photo updates.
The team left for Mount Everest on 28 March 2009 after two-and-a-half years of planning, and has been using Microsoft's Windows 7 and Windows Live platforms to share their experiences "live" from the face of the mountain — a first for Everest.
"Sometime this month, Robby and I will attempt to add our names to the very brief list of South Africans who have managed to summit Everest," says Black. "We wish to thank supporters back home for their daily posts on our web site and hope to be back home safely soon."
Black has climbed Kilimanjaro seven times already via various routes and has summited Africa's Mount Kenya three times. He has scaled the highest peak in the Andes (Argentina's Cerro Aconcagua), the highest peak in Europe (Russia's Mt Elbrus), the highest peak in the Alps (France's Mont Blanc), and in between fitted in other adventures such as glacier trekking in Iceland and completing the Ironman event.
Kojetin, who has climbed three of the world's seven summits, is dubbing his Everest expedition the Climb of Hope, which has already raised more than R120 000.00 for CHOC.
Colin Erasmus, who heads the Windows business at Microsoft SA, and his technical team compiled the communication system for the Everest team. "I have been in regular conversation with John and Robby, and it is a pleasure to see how the technology has put their experience at Everest on a broader, interactive public platform."
It takes in the region of 10 weeks to attempt to summit Mount Everest and a good portion of that time is spent 6 000 meters above sea level, which is higher than Mount Kilimanjaro's peak. Time is spent climbing up and down the mountain to acclimatise and allow red blood cells to build up in the body, which will allow for normal functioning in thin air environments.