It could be the most challenging Internet cafe project going.
Fifty years after two men conquered Mount Everest, a native Sherpa is determined to set up a cybercafe at the 17,400-foot-high base camp of the world's highest mountain.
Besides freezing temperatures and storms, there is no electricity or plumbing at the site. There aren't any permanent buildings, either.
"The Internet cafe I am planning will be in a temporary shed built with stone walls and covered with a tent," said entrepreneur Tsering Gyalzen, whose grandfather was one of more than 100 Sherpas who carried equipment and supplies in the 1953 expedition.
Gyalzen said he is forced to build a temporary structure because the base camp sits on a glacier that moves a few inches a day.
The cafe will open only during the spring and fall, when hundreds of mountaineers come to climb Everest and surrounding mountains in the Khumbu region.
"If we have Internet access on the base camp it would be easy to call for helicopters to airlift injured or sick mountaineers and also check on weather forecasts," said Ang Tshering, who operates a trekking business.
To relay the Internet data, Gyalzen is building a second hut, in the Kalapathar area, about a two-hour trek below the base camp, for satellite equipment that will transmit signals through radio links to the Internet cafe.
"There are 19,000 to 50,000 trekkers that come to the Everest region every year. They would want to send a line of e-mail to their friends and family back home," Gyalzen said.
Since Everest was conquered by New Zealander Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay on May 29, 1953, more than 1,200 people have climbed the mountain and nearly 200 have died on its unpredictable slopes.
Gyalzen, like most Sherpas, lives in the Everest region. His family owns a hotel at Namche village.
Sherpas were mostly yak herders and traders living high in the Himalayas until Nepal opened its borders to tourism in 1950. Their stamina and knowledge of the mountains make them expert guides and porters for foreign mountaineers.
Gyalzen is an old hand at high-altitude Internet.
He already operates an Internet cafe at the 11,280-foot-high Namche village, also on the Everest trekking route. Using satellite links to the capital, Katmandu, he provides access to foreign trekkers and local people.
A year after Namche's only telephone facility in the area was destroyed by Nepalese Maoist insurgents, Gyalzen set up a 48-line telephone exchange with lines enabling people in and around the village to communicate with each other.
However, the government has not allowed him to link his exchange to other parts of the country, so Gyalzen's Internet cafe is now the chief mode of communication between Namche and the rest of the world.
At his planned Everest base camp cafe, Gyalzen expects to install eight laptop computers, powered by generators and solar-charged batteries.
First he must battle the Nepalese bureaucracy to get a license to import the satellite signal relay equipment from Israel. Then he has to airlift the equipment to an airstrip at Lukla and have it carried to the base camp on yaks, which takes about a week. Gyalzen said he was still not sure how many satellite dishes or what kind of transmitters and receivers he would be allowed to import.
He said he hopes the cafe will be ready by the spring, when more than 100 mountaineers are expected to attempt scale the 29,035-foot Everest in celebration of the golden jubilee of the first conquest.
Though Gyalzen is doing the work, he's getting some funding.
Gordon Cook, a New Jersey-based telecom analyst, and Dave Hughes, a 74-year-old Internet pioneer and retired Army colonel from Colorado Springs, helped him set up the project. Cisco Systems donated some radio equipment. The Square Network in Nepal is helping set up equipment at the base camp.