When we last left them, Adrian Ballinger and Emily Harrington were about 15,000 feet up the side of a mountain, using their iPads to keep followers posted about their expedition as their bodies continued to adjust to potentially hazardously low levels of oxygen. According to CYFERnet, any area above 24,000 feet is considered the "Death Zone" – a region where brain cells die rapidly and humans cling to consciousness by a thread. No amount of preparation can prepare climbers to last for long beyond this point. And yet it's a point both Ballinger and Harrington have been past in their careers. These are two highly experienced mountain climbers, and now their iPads help them complete the journey.
Phase 3: Getting toward the summit
The climbers began their expedition with 40 to 45 pounds of equipment, but by the time they approach the summit push they've stripped that down to one third of the weight, according to Apple. Among the 10 to 15 pounds that will accompany them to the top of the mountain is the iPad, still a pivotal piece of machinery in their ascent. The summit push takes place over four to five days, and represents the point at which all physical training is put to the brutal test. During this time, the iPad will assist the two climbers in monitoring weather conditions. Because their iPads use an app that beams its information up to a satellite, Ballinger and Harrington never have to worry about losing the ability to monitor their progress, even in a feared situation like a whiteout.
"In a whiteout, being able to see where you are on the mountain can be a matter of life or death," Harrington told Apple. "iPad is the only way to tell where we're going."
In the iPad Air commercial, Ballinger and Harrington's iPad is shown sheathed in a protective covering. Such protection is necessary to avoid needing an iPad repair since, as Apple points out, the iPad should not be used or even stored in temperatures below -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a case can help protect the device against potential damage.
The final phase: reaching the peak
Edmund Hillary once said of Everest, "It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves." For all those people on the ground who question whether the climbers' mentality is one of bravery or lunacy, Hillary's quote stands to illuminate the mountaineer's creed: that theirs is a journey of emotional, not physical, heights. It is a path of self-actualization. To summit a peak affirms the self, enlivens the spirit and fuels the fire of personal growth. It may seem paradoxical that the peak of a mountain – one of the places least suited to sustain human life – is where climbers grasp, however transiently, something like a state of grace. For Ballinger and Harrington, the final ascent takes about a day. It is the shortest phase in the climb, and the hardest to fulfill.
"I've only summitted about 50 percent of the mountains I've tried," Ballinger told Apple. But thanks to their iPad, that final stretch is made a little bit more fulfilling. Using the GPS app Gaia, the climbers are able to make a virtual record of their presence on the peak. That feat is verifiable through the satellite-connected app, which is able to map exact locations.
Climbing mountains is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment, focus and a nearly inhuman level of endurance. But with the iPad, the whole process can be made less intimidating, which opens up climbing to more people who have their head in the clouds.