/ Karakoram: Sat phones & weather forecasts

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Big Lee - on 19 Feb 2013
Off to the Pakistani Karakoram this summer. I haven't done any expedition stuff for seven years so need to get up to speed with a few things:

What is the best way to get base camp weather forecasts? I would be in the Batura region.

Also, if I'm going to rent a sat phone is there anything I should be aware of when choosing which one?

Thanks in advance for advice.

Cheers,
Lee
radson - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

Sat phones are getting cheaper and cheaper. Might be cheaper buying than renting? I had a Thuraya Dual XT and was able to send emails etc. Worked really well. The top up function is really easy

The weather forecasts we received and those of the teams around us were as reliable as forecasts of the second coming and one had to have a certain level of wry humour about themselves when reading the forecasts while looking outside the tent.
TRip - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to radson:
> (In reply to Big Lee)
>
> Sat phones are getting cheaper and cheaper.

When you say cheap how cheap to you mean?

Also is there a brand of Sat phone that will work in Alaska and in Nepal/India/Pakistan?

Cheers,
Big Lee - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to radson:

My trip is 30 days so I think rental is going to be cheaper. I Google'd the model of phone you mentioned and its weighing in at around 800 vs rental at about 10 a day give or take. If I had lots of long trips lined up then maybe it would be worth it (but I haven't).

I'm really showing my ignorance here, but what is the best medium to get forecasts via? Sat phone, or does having a laptop offer any additional benefit?
Damo on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

Big, I'm a bit behind the times on this now too, but:
- Thuraya still seems to be best for Asia
- the latest Iridiums have had problems. The 2nd-last model seems fine?
- you will only be able to get wx info by text or voice, so the txt will be minimal info
- Karl Gabl in Austria is the guy most people trust, though there are others.
- Bigger xpeds usually have two or more such sources and compare them to decide
- A laptop/netbook etc is going to run up data costs on the phone and add weight, so
- I've found the best solution is to have a friend at home who spends a lot of time online, acquaint them with two or three relevant weather sites and how to read/relate them, and once in-country give them a quick call or txt to check, then call back 30min later for the report. Buy them a bottle of something in gratitude.
ice.solo - on 19 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee:

an interesting option ive dabbled in (tho not in pakistan, but close by) is using a delorne inreach linked to a smart phone.

http://www.inreachdelorme.com/product-info/inreach-smartphone.php

it uses the iridium network, so as pointed out, has all that goes with that, and isnt the cheapest option, but the device has other functions that can be useful elsewhere if you f*ck about with different plans (you buy the device).

for forecasts, another option is to talk with some of the larger trip operators and see if they will let you 'hire' their services. some of these guys have good reputations after decades doing the job. being a significant element for your trips outcome its worth nailing down.
Big Lee - on 20 Feb 2013
In reply to Damo & ice.solo:

Thanks Damo / Ice Solo. Very helpful advice. I feel like I have some sort of clue now.

Chris Szymiec - on 24 Feb 2013
Hey,

Check out the Tech section on Explorersweb.com. They have a lot of good info on there.

From personal experience in Pakistan, Thuraya phone ---> blutooth ---> PDA--->internet. Thuraya also makes a data/wifi modem device to set up a small wifi network over the phone. Then just use your ipad or ipod or whatever to connect to the internet cheaply.

I use mail2web.com/pda to send and check email. Super lightweight and fast for a sat connection.

Dont brag about having a sat phone around any officials if you are going to the Baltoro area.

Weather- Dont use the free forecasts if you expect any reliability on the 8000ers. You need a specialized forecast for your exact area. For instance, we were experiencing very different weather on K2 & Broad Peak during the same periods. They are only 1.5 hours walking BC to BC. Another word of advice, weather windows are in hours up there, not in days so get ready to push up into a storm. Wicked fun!

hope this helps
Chris
Big Lee - on 25 Feb 2013
In reply to Chris Szymiec:

Thanks for the info. Sounds like you had bad luck with weather. We'll be climbing Alpine-style so a few hours won't be enough for anything. I've had some good weather windows in the Karakoram in the past. But yes, bad weather can settle in for a while if you are unlucky.
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Chris Szymiec - on 26 Feb 2013
In reply to Big Lee: yes. The last few years have been strange. very dry down low and chest deep sugar above 7000M.

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