By March, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the first ascent of Everest by Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, climbers on the mountain will have the chance to connect with the world below by e-mail. Tsering Gyaltsen, grandson of the only surviving Sherpa on that famed climb, plans to build the world's highest Internet cafe at base camp.
Unlike many climber services, foreign-run outfitters aren't the ones who stand to benefit primarily. Residents of a nearby town may get internet access because of it, and the mountain may get a bit cleaner - fees will be paid to the pollution committee..
It's a big technical challenge - wireless radios on moving glaciers, and gear insulated against temperatures far below their design temperature.
The network will consist of a small satellite dish, planted about 1,500 feet above base camp, that can provide two-way communications, linked by wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi, or 802.11b) to the town and camp.