Magazine article Geographical

High-Wire Action from Borneo

Magazine article Geographical

High-Wire Action from Borneo

Article excerpt

Earlier this year, Dan Haylock filmed a bunch of climbers as they attempted to scale some of Borneo's trickiest rock-faces. He shared their hair-raising exploits with the world, by beaming back live images via the web

My job was to film the expedition, edit QuickTime movies for the internet, design web pages and then transmit it all to a computer server in Ireland enabling anyone with a computer to access the website www.sheer7.com. The basic kit consisted of an Apple G3 Powerbook using Sorensen Roadcaster software, a Sony PC1E pocket camcorder and a BT Satelan satellite transmitter which came in two parts -- a foldaway satellite dish and an ISDN modem. All of this could be packed inside a 35-litre Lifeventure rucksack. This set-up weighed ten kilograms. I could only work for about two hours before the batteries ran out, so I had an additional 90 kilos of equipment at our base camp! For protection when it was being carried from one camp to another we stored everything in Pelicases. Solar Century solar panels provided some power but as it rained most of the time we came to rely on a Honda generator, but even this was sometimes affected by the 4,000-metre altitude.

As well as the pocket camcorder I had two other video cameras; a semi-professional Sony VX-1000 and a Mars Bar-sized Pulnix helmet-cam with a transmitter/receiver device which was built for us in under a week by Optex of Barnet. The person supporting, or belaying the climber would put on the helmet-cam and film the lead climber as he worked his way up the rock wall. When the belayer came to ascend the ropes he would hang out in space about 20 metres from the rock face with a 700-metre drop below and look around with the helmet-cam. We got some fantastic footage. The pictures were then transmitted to where I was sitting, about three-quarters of a kilometre away.

I used a pair of Motorola Talkabout radios with headsets to talk to the climbers. The radios were fantastic. Even when the climbers were out of sight I was able to bounce a signal around the mountain to speak to them. The only problem were the batteries -- they ran out very quickly.

As a mountaineer myself, I was able to appreciate what the climbers were trying to achieve. But it was important for them to also realise what I was trying to do. To record the expedition everything needed to be filmed. That meant filming people when they didn't want a camera stuck in their face -- for example when they were scared or upset -- which sometimes caused a bit of tension. …

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