Two-way text messaging from 14,000 feet
As those of you who followed the Grand Teton Climb map updates know, the Big City Mountaineers adventure on the Grand Teton was a huge success! We reached the summit at 10:30AM last Wednesday and made it back to the trail-head at 5:30PM that evening. Messages were sent all along the trip and I very much appreciate all of the comments and well wishes that came in from people watching the climb through DeLorme’s Twitter posts and the MapShare page. The weather was perfect, the climbing was amazing, and I had a great time learning more about Big City Mountaineers’ efforts to expose kids to the wonders of nature and the great outdoors. For those interested in learning more, check out their Summit For Someone program and plan your own adventure!
I was very excited to see all the activity on the blog when I got back. I understand that there’s been a lot of comparing and contrasting between the subscription plan information that we posted last week and other systems that are out there. I wanted to take a few minutes and actually post the wrap-up e-mail I sent to our management team while I was flying back to Maine late Thursday evening. Returning from my first multiple-day backpacking trip with the inReach really gave me a chance to appreciate how the game has changed since the last time I made a blog post about sending messages from the top of a mountain….
I wanted to send an e-mail to thank all of you for giving me the opportunity to represent DeLorme and participate in the Big City Mountaineers Outdoor Industry Leadership Climb of the Grand Teton. It was an amazing opportunity to showcase all of the hard work that has gone into the DeLorme inReach and Earthmate PN-60w, as well as a once in a lifetime opportunity for me personally.
The inReach was well received by industry leaders on the climb; several used the device to send messages to family, friends, and colleagues. Some that were part of the first climbing group exchanged messages with the second group while they watched our progress on summit day. All climbers joined in on a spontaneous DeLorme Twitter challenge the morning of day 2 and pooled quite a collection of prizes for the first Twitter follower to bring bacon, a birthday cake, and other supplies to base camp. Unfortunately none of the people that responded to the inReach message were able to make the climb to cash in but it was nice to see how the group embraced the messaging beyond cell phone capabilities (thanks to Iridium) of our new product.
We released my blog post about the climb on Monday morning inviting people to follow the trip on my Grand Teton Climb MapShare page. I sent 189 tracking messages during the trip representing over 30 hours of activity including a full summit day that started at 5:30 am and finished at 5:30 pm. I sent 140 messages over the trip including messages to Twitter, Facebook, friends, family, and co-workers. I was able to say goodnight to my wife and daughter from 11,000 feet and reassure my mother that I was paying close attention to the guides and wouldn’t be doing anything dangerous. She will not be viewing some of the climbing pictures!
I received messages from over 40 different people; many co-workers, lots of friends and family, and a large number of people that read the blog and wanted to offer encouragement. Some of my favorite messages came at times when I was huddled in the tent with the wind thrashing or standing in the dark waiting to rope in to start the climb. All were amazing to receive so far away from home and reinforced the significance of what we’re doing every time the PN chimed to let me know someone was watching.
“Good luck! I’m on the other side in Idaho.” –Twitter follower
“Dear Chip, we’re following you from Italy, Abruzzi mountains! Wishing you all the best for a nice climb! –Klaus” –Twitter follower
“Watched your progress and can’t wait to get the inReach. Congratulations on a great hike!” –Twitter follower
“Abby is having lunch with us. She says you are a good climber. We love you.” –My mom
“When you reach the ridge line between Grand and Middle, look west. We might be able to capture you on the TetonCam web cam.” –Co-worker
“Everyone in my training class wants to say hello.” –DeLorme training coordinator
“Sweeeeettt! What a great climb. Far different than the one in California. You are now a true mountaineer!” –Member of Climb 1
“Get your tail moving!” –My supervisor
“Stay close to the experts.” –My mom
“Awesome, so what route are you using for the climb?” –Co-worker
“Doing good so far. I would love to meet you at the top with bacon and whiskey, but alas I have to be at work. How about a box of cookies when you get back?” –Twitter Challenge responder
“Really cool to be able to show the girls where you are, which rock are you hiding behind? Get good rest for tomorrow.” –My sister
“Shouldn’t you be holding onto the rope not texting?” –My dad
“I just zoomed in to where you are with the aerial imagery. Yikes!” –Co-worker
“Wishing you tight ropes, solid footing and clear skies.” –Co-worker
“Great! I hope you had a good time, and I’m glad you’re on your way towards home because we miss you!” –My wife
My only disappointment from the trip was minor, the message that I sent from the summit did not actually transmit. I was concerned about temperatures so I created a predefined message forgetting that the feature wasn’t fully implemented. The feature has since been completed but for this trip the track log and following picture from the summit will have to prove that I did stand on top of the Mountain… here is the text that I meant to send to all of you before coming back down:
“Standing on the summit of the Grand Teton, breathtaking! Thanks to Big City Mountaineers, Backpacker Magazine, and DeLorme for this amazing opportunity!”
It truly was a breathtaking view and an amazing opportunity and I thank you all for letting me represent DeLorme and participate in this grand adventure!
I hope that sharing this report to our management team helps explain why I’m confident that the two-way messaging capabilities of the DeLorme inReach are going to change the way we stay in touch on the trail and in the back country. It’s not just about sending messages anymore!