Ben on summit.

We all read that tape cartridges can withstand cold and still work afterwards. HP took this idea to an extreme with the Clowes brothers Backup Everest expedition. Earlier this year Ben and Tom Clowes successfully summited Everest, on their second expedition to the mountain - hence back up Everest!

Why did HP sponsor this expedition? A spokesman said: "The goal was to show that if HP backup will perform successfully on Everest, then potentially, it can perform successfully anywhere: the cold, extreme lack of humidity and dust make these very challenging environments for tape products."

Back Up Everest featured the following HP products:

- HP Pavilion zd8398EA Notebook PC (which was also used by a
neighbouring BBC team when their Dell laptop failed!!)
- HP StorageWorks Ultrium 448 Tape Drive
- HP Ultrium 2 Data Cartridges
- HP StorageWorks DAT 160 Tape Drive (prototype - product due in 2007)
- HP DAT 160 Data Cartridges
- HP StorageWorks Data Protector Express software

Both tape drives were connected to the laptop via the USB port, although in the case of of the LTO drive, a USB-SCSI adaptor was required. The equipment was transported to Kathmandu then to Lukla inside tough plastic storage boxes with foam inserts. Although they sought to minimise transportation damage, it would not have been possible or practical to wrap the equipment in kid gloves, so these were fairly standard transport cases handled by porters at lower elevations and then loaded onto the back of yaks for the final elevated climbs to Base Camp! Power at Everest Base Camp came from batteries and solar panels.

During the long journey from Kathmandu to the top of Everest, the Clowes protected their precious digital photographs by backing up on the HP drives and media. Ben is a professional photographer and film maker and Tom an accomplished public speaker, so there was considerable economic value tied up in the images had some mishap occurred to the camera and all the data been lost.

The brothers backed up the images to both the LTO and DAT drives following a simple backup guide prepared with the HP team in Bristol before the trip. They then took the two cartridges with them on their successful summit bid (pictured at top). Tom and Ben were the first pair of British brothers to successfully summit Everest together and the HP media cartridges were the first of their kind to ever stand on top of the world's highest mountain!

And of course, HP was able to read and restore 100 percent of the data when the tapes returned to Bristol for examination.

Backing up at base camp

Backing up at base camp.

Ben Clowes said: "We did the back ups at base camp. Power was provided by solar panels and the drives were carried up for ten days by helicopter, yak and porter through dust and snow. They worked perfectly! We didn't take the drives higher than base camp."

"We used (the) HP laptop ... to back up photos that we took throughout our two month expedition. Also the laptop was used by the BBC whose computer died due to the conditions and they stored images and video which saved their programme which was aired a couple of months ago."