Experienced climber and guide Eric Remza is ascending Mount Everest and his trusty ThinkPad X220 laptop is going along for the ride. We did this Q&A with him recently when he had a rare moment of rest at base camp.
First of all, how cold has it been on this trip? Does your pack ever freeze? Is the cold your biggest obstacle or is it wind or something entirely different? What specific risks do you face on these climbs?
The temperature fluctuates here on a moment-to-moment basis. If there is no wind or clouds obscuring the sun, the temperature can be very pleasant! If wind is present, then the temps usually drop 10-20 degrees instantaneously. At times, the temperatures can be so cold that the contents within my pack can freeze (water bottles, sun screen, etc.) although the ThinkPad X220 is holding up great! I do need to take some care with keeping it protected, but overall the solid state drive is running like a top and starts up in the cold with no issues.
Probably the biggest obstacles I face on the climb are acclimatizing to the extreme elevations and allowing my body to stay healthy throughout the duration of such a long expedition. We also face objective hazards such as ice fall from the Khumbu glacier and potential avalanche danger from the high Himalayan faces above. These are often negated by early pre-dawn starts to move through such terrain when the conditions are most stable.
How tough is the climb you are on now? How rough, how extreme is the terrain and how do you manage all your gear when you are getting seriously vertical?
I am climbing one of the 14 highest 8000-meter mountains on planet Earth. Everything about this endeavor is a mental and physical challenge of the highest degree. I am constantly being tested and having the right gear along is just the foundation. I use a series of "systems" when managing my personal gear—the simpler, the better. The rest is a result of my training and I am constantly learning what it takes to survive on these high Himalayan peaks. Patience and persistence are two words that represent my personal mantra when delving into the secrets of climbing a mountain like Mount Everest.  nbsp;
ThinkPad built its reputation on toughness. Describe for us the harshest conditions you've ever faced around Everest and tell us about what your ThinkPad has been through on this particular journey? How is it holding up?
The extreme changes in temperature can have a tremendous effect on electronics on these big Himalayan expeditions. Also, the dry and dusty climate is always finding a way to slow down or sabotage your progress when trying to conduct business or stay in touch with the outside world. Having a solid state drive is key for having a reliable laptop in these high elevations. If your electronics are relying on a cushion of air to process, then they will surely eventually “crash” when subjected to the differential air pressures at these elevations. The X220 is holding up great. So far so good!
We don't want to call out any of our competitors but we wondered how your ThinkPad X220 stacks up against laptops you've previously carried on the path to Everest. Are your fellow travelers packing laptops as well? What experiences are they having?
In 2007, I climbed Mount Everest from the North (Tibetan Province of China). During that trip we brought some PCs to our advanced base camp at 21,500 feet. We burned through seven hard drives on that expedition. I did boot up my ThinkPad T60 at the time, it worked, but I was nervous to keep it going since it was my personal computer and I did not want to risk it. On this particular trip I am able to use the X220 in a “worry-free” zone. I have no doubt that it is going to produce the results I need in running my business remotely and keeping in touch with the people I care about.
The X220 battery life is second to none. In an environment that is so challenging—sucking the life out of your electronics—the battery on the X220 is solid and long-lasting. I have seen some climbers using other laptops and they have been limited by the battery life.
As you know, Lenovo's tagline is FOR THOSE WHO DO. You seem to embody the spirit of "Where there's a will there's a way" and we salute you for that. What inspires you, what drives you to do this for your chosen career and life?
My simple message is “Find what you love and do it.” I have been climbing mountains for the past 16 years and it has brought me to places externally and internally that I may not have had the honor to experience in this lifetime. Being so tied to the outdoors has inspired me to travel the path less traveled, and guiding people in the mountains is a passion of mine. To share this experience with others and to have the opportunity to get a glimpse into their lives is such an amazing kickback to a career that is both challenging and rewarding. Sharing the gift of adventure travel is something that inspired me to co-found my startup with the ultimate goal of creating tools to allow our community to share and memorialize in our experiences.
Finally, how do you define success for yourself as a climber and guide? What is your ultimate goal?
Success for me is to instill the traits needed for my clients to make the right decisions while climbing in the mountains. To do so with care and respect for the mountains and cultures that we visit. I don't look at a mountain as a means of conquering but more as a means of asking for its permission as I set my foot upon its slopes. As a climber, I would love to continue climbing as long as my health and existence allows me. Climbing all 14 8000-meter mountains would be a dream.