World's highest cell phone call within reach

British mountain climber Rod Baber expects to reach the summit of Mount Everest early next week where he plans to set a world record for making the highest cell phone call.

After weeks of preparation on lower altitudes of Everest to get acclimated to the thinner air, Baber, 36, began his final push last Monday to the 29,035-foot summit from a base camp, a Motorola Inc. spokeswoman in London said Friday. The final push should take about eight days, which would mean reaching the summit on Monday or Tuesday, if weather permits.

"The plan is that he will be make the highest phone call made when at the summit," said Ellen Harrison, a London-based spokeswoman for Motorola Inc. "His health is good... He's been given the all-clear to go."

For the call, Baber will use a Moto Z8 phone, a consumer-grade GSM phone that Motorola announced earlier this week and will ship in Europe and Asia in June. No plans for shipping the phone in the U.S. have been made, although Motorola has many GSM phones sold by U.S.-based carriers. Pricing has not been announced.

In a phone call with BBC News using the Z8 on May 11 from an Everest base camp, Baber said he lost more than 20 pounds and had recovered from headaches from altitude sickness, Harrison said.

Several members of his climbing party had to quit the climb due to altitude sickness, although he and five others in a group organized by a climbing group called HimEx are in the first of two teams still on track, she added.

"It took us three days before we could walk more than 50 steps without running out of breath," Baber told the BBC, which Harrison confirmed.

The Z8 has worked well in the cold and low pressure and has been used by Baber to reach his family and others, making voice calls and sending photos and text messages from various locations. "He's not calling every day," Harrison said.

While Everest has been climbed for decades, it is the first time a cell phone call will be made because there had previously been of a lack of cell infrastructure, Baber said in an e-mail interview in April with Computerworld.

Previous voice calls by climbers have been made using heavy, large satellite phones, he said. China Telecom only set up a cell tower in Rongbuk, about a mile from the base camp last year, Baber said.

A line-of-site connection from Rongbuk is now possible with the north ridge of the mountain, a distance of about 12 miles, Baber said in the e-mail.

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