Guest post by: Brody Leven
Gizmos are vital. In the outdoors, personal locator beacons provide a crutch in case of emergencies, iPhones allow us to call in late for work when the powder is just that good, digital cameras help us show our moms what the summit really looks like, and GoPros serve as proof that the cliff really was a 50-footer.
Gizmos also allow me to make a living. I absolutely require them in order to share my mountain pursuits with the hope of inspiring other people to challenge themselves.
The modern, successful, professional athlete is a media maven, maintaining a following of fans who base their attraction and loyalty off social media engagement. For the first time in history, celebrities, strangers and politicians aren’t unreachable. Anyone can contact them through the modern lines, at any time, from anywhere. Gizmos facilitate this.
But the line between professional athlete and recreationalist isn’t drawn with a USB cord. Everyone uses gizmos, and my cell phone isn’t any more important than yours. To that end, maintaining the limited battery life that these essentials offer is the only thing separating us from the dreaded Unfollow.
In June, my team spent three weeks climbing and skiing 20,320-foot Denali, the tallest mountain in North America. iPhones, GoPros, satellite phones, DSLRs, Androids, laptops, point-and-shoots, speakers, iPods…gizmos. Lots and lots of gizmos. On Denali, climbing expeditions have to be entirely self-supported. There are no buildings, bathrooms, or water, let alone electricity. Goal Zero kept our team powered through snowstorms, wind, and endless clouds.
Ralph Backstrom, Max Lowe, and I took it upon ourselves to keep the entire team’s electrical needs satisfied. Our complete Goal Zero kit consisted of:
Given our 14-member team, this kit offered only minimal weight punishment, while literally allowing us to share our trip with the world upon our return. Without it, there would literally not be any media coming from the top of the continent.
Our daily charging session would usually include a few linked Nomads charging iPhones, a Sherpa 50 and Nomad 13 charging a laptop, and solar panels spread out around camp, attached to various tents and sitting on snow piles, dialing in every piece of electronic equipment for our team (and, often, neighboring teams).
Not only did this setup allow us to keep everything barely alive, it allowed us to keep our gizmos fully charged. My iPhone never fell below 50% (on airplane mode), because even after 17-hour summit pushes, I would plug it in immediately upon my return to camp. In all honesty, I worried less about battery power while living on a glacier at 14,200 feet than I do while biking around Salt Lake City doing errands all day.
Gizmos aren’t a nuisance, they’re now a necessity–and not just to drop some hashtags from the summit. Every expedition on Denali had electronics that they needed to keep charged for one reason or another. Goal Zero was the only way to do it.