Over the past seven years the iPod has become the most iconic gadget around. Nearly everyone has one (or one of it’s knockoffs) and it’s been quite a revolution to music lovers, who can now carry their entire music collection in such a small package. The ubiquitous little device can now be seen with runners, cyclists, hikers, and yes, even climbers.
Which leads to an interesting post over at Stewart’s Climbing Blog about the use of iPod’s at altitude. The operating instructions for the Apples little music player says that the iPod isn’t rated for use above 10,000 feet, and that taking one above that point could mean irreparable damage. The logic behind this is that the mechanical elements of the iPod’s hard drive begins to have issues above that height.
Of course, I’ve personally spoken to a number of climbers who have told me that their iPods (and personal computers for that matter) have worked perfectly fine as high as base camp on Everest, which is situated at about 17,700 feet or so. But then again, I’ve heard from others who say they had issues with either device at that altitude as well. I guess your mileage varies, but just know that any hard drive based device can have issues when you’re at higher altitudes.
In recent years, the use of solid state drives has become much more prevalent. In non-geek terms, that’s a new type of drive that uses flash memory for storage and doesn’t have any moving parts. The iPod Nanos and Shuffles both use this type of storage, and should therefore not be as prone to having issues. Even better yet, newer computers, such as the MacBook Air, offer the ability to use an SSD as well, which should make them much more resistant to altitude as well.
Personally, I think the 10,000 foot limit is a CYA (cover your ass) comment from Apple, just to be on the safe side, so they can tell you they warned you before you take your music up the mountain. Which brings up another point. Should you be listening to music while climbing? I guess it depends on where you are at on the mountain. Personally, I like to have my iPod for use in the tent, or maybe while doing some trekking, but not when there is a need to pay more strict attention.
So? When do you use your iPod? And better yet, what’s your favorite songs and playlists? I have some great workout playlists for running, but don’t wear it on my bike. (It’s a no-no in traffic in my opinion) I’ve also used it when hiking, and stuffed it into my dry sack when kayaking too, and I have to admit, it can make for a nice experience.
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