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Keron 4

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Eduardo Cartaya

Eduardo Cartaya is an expedition caver with 30 years’ experience, and he has a special interest in glacier cave systems. He is both an instructor and the Pacific Northwest (USA) regional coordinator for the National Cave Rescue Commission, and he coordinates three glacier cave projects in the region. In 2015, he launched his most ambitious expedition, to map and study the fumarole glacier caves buried hundreds of feet beneath the crater ice caps of 4392 m (14,411 ft) Mt Rainier, an active volcano in Washington state, USA. “On the summit of Rainier, you may as well be on the back side of the moon,” he says. “The wind and weather makes rescue in most cases impossible.” The expedition experienced up to 80 mph winds, as well as snow and frigid temperatures. “You lose your tent [up here], you die,” says Eddy. “I turned to Hilleberg because we did not just need tents, we needed life pods, akin to space capsules, and we treated them as such!” Along with a Saitaris, a Keron GT, and a Nammatj GT, the team used two connected Atlas tents as their “mothership base station.” 14 researchers called the Atlas “compound” home for 12 days. “I chose the Atlas for our mothership base station because it had the versatility to be linked to other pods, was trustworthy in terrifying conditions, was roomy, enabled us to install solar arrays through the ports, and could be assembled very quickly and intuitively,” says Eddy. “Climbers have died on Rainier because they could not erect their tent fast enough. The Atlas is brilliantly designed, goes up fast, is intuitive, can be double poled, and can be pitched in high wind with a small team.” On day six, they encountered a major storm, 24 hours of snow and sustained 113 kph (70 mph) winds in the crater. “The wind sounded like a freight train driving over our heads for a whole day, and was most disconcerting,” recalls Eddy. “[Our Hilleberg tents] did not move, break, tear, or do anything! If ever there was testament to how solid these tents are in deadly alpine conditions, it was this 24-hour period.”