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Robot Suit Put To The Test On Breithorn
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socialclimber


Aug 10, 2006, 9:51 AM
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Robot Suit Put To The Test On Breithorn
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Engadget reports on a two man Japanese team, one a quadriplegic, who's attempt of the Breithorn faltered only 500m from the summit.


Partner j_ung


Aug 12, 2006, 8:16 AM
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Re: Robot Suit Put To The Test On Matterhorn [In reply to]
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I want one! :lol:


grampacharlie


Aug 12, 2006, 10:38 AM
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Re: Robot Suit Put To The Test On Matterhorn [In reply to]
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I wonder if they could make one to increase crimper strength... :shock:


emilb


Aug 14, 2006, 1:17 PM
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Re: Robot Suit Put To The Test On Matterhorn [In reply to]
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The title of this is wrong. The peak was the Breithorn and the Klein-Matterhorn is a cable car station that takes you most of the way to the top. I did an acclimitization hike on the Breithorn about 10 years ago and wrote up a little trip report which I have included below. Based on that experience it sounds to me like the robot suit still needs a lot of work.

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This is the one of the easiest 4000 meter peaks in the Alps and consequently one of the most frequently climbed. It has little to recommend it in terms of interesting climbing but can be useful for acclimitization purposes before getting ready for something more difficult. I had spent the previous few days hiking the hills around Zermatt getting used to the altitude and I wound up climbing the Breithorn because I was still looking for climbing partners and wanted something that was safe to solo, yet would get me up to a higher altitude. I asked at the guides office in Zermatt if it was safe for a soloist and they warned me that it wasn't because of crevasses, (and tried to talk me into joining one of their guided groups for a large fee). Well what they were saying wasn't agreeing with what my guidebook was saying so I got a third opinion. I asked some climbers who had climbed it already if it was safe and they told me it was fine. When I told them what the guides office had said they just laughed and told me to go up there and see for myself. So I did. I took the cable car from Zermatt to the Klein-Matterhorn station. This seemed a rather unsporting way to climb but since the alternative was to trudge up the ski slopes above Zermatt, dodging the skiers and snowboarders all the way, I rationalized it to myself and rode up a crowded cable car.

After leaving the station I simply followed the herd (and I do mean herd) of people heading towards the summit across the Breithorn plateau. It was worse than the Keyhole route on Longs on a summer weekend. I saw what the other climbers had meant about there not being any real danger when I saw the guided groups. There was one guide and 4 to 6 people spaced about 4-5 feet apart on the rope. Many of these folks didn't even know what to do with their rented ice axes and were tripping over their crampons as they walked. If the guide had fallen through, the whole rope would probably go as well and since I'm sure the Swiss guides are competent, and don't have a death wish, I didn't think there could be much danger of crevasse falls.

The track led over the broad flat Breithorn Plateau in an easterly direction gradually steepening to about 35 degrees. An hour and ten minutes after stepping off the cable car I stood just below the summit amidst a crowd of around 30 people. I didn't go up to the very summit since it lies along a ridge and it was corniced. (That didn't stop some people but the drop off the North face was quite impressive and I didn't want to make a closer acquaintance with it). Despite the crowds, the view was tremendous. Off to the east the Monte Rosa group was laid out in a spectacular panorama while the Matterhorn rose up in the west. I managed to get some nice photos and some friendly Italians snapped my picture for me. I ate my lunch and hung around at the top for an hour or so enjoying the beautiful day and the views, and then started back down. There was still a steady line of people coming up from the Klein-Matterhorn station and some of them probably shouldn't have been trying the climb. It seems that many people in Europe want to climb a 4000 meter peak in the same way that people in the states want to bag a 14'er and because of the cable car here they figure they can do it very easily. So they ride up, completely unacclimated to the altitude, and wind up not enjoying themselves at all. Some of the people I saw looked very miserable, one elderly lady in particular looked like she was going to keel over but she kept plugging away. Anyway I got back down to the station and took the cable car back down. On the way you get a great view of the North Face of the Breithorn (the standard route comes up the slopes on the opposite side of the face) which is very impressive. I spent the ride trying to pick out some decent routes on it and wondering if anyone had ever climbed it yet. It looked pretty scary to me, steep and loose with big ice blocks and cornices ready to come down on you. After I got back from Europe I read in the American Alpine Journal that Jean-Christophe Lafaille had put up a new route on the face the previous year as part of a solo enchainment of 10 alpine faces in 15 days.


el_layclimber


Aug 14, 2006, 1:23 PM
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Re: Robot Suit Put To The Test On Matterhorn [In reply to]
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A trophy for posting an interesting addition to the post-human debate of what constitutes "ethical" climbing and good style.


socialclimber


Aug 15, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Re: Robot Suit Put To The Test On Matterhorn [In reply to]
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A trophy for posting an interesting addition to the post-human debate of what constitutes "ethical" climbing and good style.

Thank you for the trophy but it is completely undeserved. For WCN content, I find an interesting story and post a link to it. Nothing more. I think this story has less about climbing a mountain and more about The advancement of robotics. Realistically, the suit could have been tested by walking across Japan or climbing a few flights of stairs. The reason to go up the mountain seemed to have more to do with Seiji Uchida ambition to see the view from the summit.


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