In a real “Can you hear me now?” moment, a climber has claimed an unlikely world record – for making a cell phone call from the summit of Everest. Rod Baber, a British mountaineer, phoned home on Monday, May 21, stood at the top of the north face of the 29,000 foot mountain, the tallest in the world, to claim his unassailable record.
It all became possible after China built a cell phone base station with an Everest sightline, which offered a challenge to any dedicated climber. Baber had been in the Himalayas since the middleof April and began his final ascent on May 15. He faced two major challenges beyond the gruelling climb itself. At the summit, the temperatures of -30 Celsius mean that humans can only stayfor a maximum of 15 minutes; additionally, to talk into the handset, he had to remove his oxygen mask – a dangerous move where the air is so thin. Baber kept the batteries for his Motorizr Z8 phone warm by taping them to his body. Why did he do it? In the very best tradition of climbers everywhere, it was quite simply because it was there and because he could. “Everest symbolizes the greatest challenge toany climber,” Baber said, adding that the chance to make a call from the top was something that came along “once in a lifetime.” The climb was sponsored by Motorola, and Baber’s first call was to them. In what some might think of as a typical modern conversation, it went straight through to voicemail – althoughin this case it was deliberate, so the company could record it. After that, he really did call home, talking to his wife and children. As if that wasn’t enough, Baber also claimed therecord for sending the highest text message. There is, however, no record of how he managed that – or what he wrote.