Take It To The Top: A message from Austin!

We received a message this morning from Austin with details from the Take It To The Top VICE expedition! So, here's an update in his own words:

As you know, we arrived on the fourth, spent a few days organizing gear, gathering food, and getting over some jet lag. We only got stopped by the Kyrgyz police once. There's a lake nearby the hostel with a view of the mountains south of Bishkek, so we enjoyed a few dips in the warm valley before heading to the snowy hills.

Google Maps aerial view of Korona Peak.
This is an aerial view of the Take It To The Top VICE Expedition team's camp at the base of Korona.
Google Earth rendering of valley view from camp
This Google Earth rendering approximates the team's view of the valley from base camp at 6:30 p.m. Their previous route is in red and green with blue InReach ping locations.
Google Earth rendering of mountain view from camp
This Google Earth rendering approximates the team's view of the mountains from base camp at 6:30 p.m. Korona is on the right.

JLo (Jeff Longcor) arrived at 5:05 a.m. on the 6th, and we ambushed him at the airport. We packed up all our gear and it worked out for each of us to be carrying approximately 75 lbs of gear in two packs, one on the back and one in the front. The lack of dehydrated meals and the rock, ice and snow gear really added up.

We tried to catch a taxi to Ala-Archa, the national park 30 km outside of Bishkek, but the weight of all our gear plus the six of us had the van bottoming out before we even reached the paved road. A second taxi came and we were on our way.


The entrance fee for the park was a steep 30 som (60 cents) per car. From the entrance we slogged up to around 8500 ft and camped for the night because Rob had some altitute sickness.

The next morning, we carried on to about 12,500 ft when a snowstorm forced us to make camp on the rocky moraine next to the glacier. We huddled under a tarp and cooked until the storm abated, leaving epic views of the valley below and the summits above.

We awoke around 6 a.m., cooked a bit of muesli and roped up to cross the glacier. Unfortunately, a mix up in camp left us without the inReach. We climbed up a snowfield on the side of Pik Teketor (4,480m). Nick and JLo turned around at around 4,100m due to JLo's altitude sickness. Ryan, Rob, Zach, and I had to turn around 200m from the summit due to severe weather just as we reached some steep ice. We descended safely and returned to camp thrashed.


The next day we christened as a rest day. We woke up and sat around camp until the sun hit us. We dried some things out and then packed up to do the short hike to a slanted tin hut that was just barely standing at the base of Pik Korona. A snowball fight ensued, and then we passed out around 7 p.m. to get sufficient sleep before the 3 a.m. assault on Pik Korona (4,860m).

When the alarm went off, JLo and I were in poor form, both feeling feverish with stomach problems, and I had a pounding headache from the altitude. The four others summitted Korona while JLo and I spent the morning recovering at camp. When the four others arrived back at the hut, we determined that after three days of suffering from altitude sickness, I needed to descend. So, even after a full day of hiking for four and a day of sickness for two, the team rallied and descended to the Ratsek hut at around 10,500 ft.

Today, we descended the rest of the way, made it back to the hostel, and are all recovering from our various ailments. We all agree that the acclimatization trip was absolutely crucial for our expedition and have high hopes for the Djangart. Hopefully less sickness will ensue.

Remember, if you have Google Earth, or want to download it, you can check out their progress here!

Take It To The Top: Medical Manufacturing and Mountaineering

KMC Systems medical device contract manufacturing, design and support engineers Take It To The Top - of medical engineering and mountains! As Mechanical Engineer Austin Lines takes it to the top of an unsummited mountain, his fellow engineers take your medical device to the top of ISO 13485 and FDA medical equipment standards while saving you time and money through our KMC360® program. For more information, download our KMC360® Brochure.


Topics: KMC Systems, medical device contract manufacturing, Take It To The Top, VICE Expedition