Last year, mountaineers Adrian Ballinger and Cory Richards set an epic goal: climb to the summit of Mount Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen—a feat accomplished by less than 200 people—all while documenting their journey on Snapchat. In April, they’ll be snapping from the world’s tallest mountain again, with the sponsorship of Eddie Bauer and Strava, a social network for athletes.
Adweek caught up with Ballinger and Richards prior to their panels at SXSW in Austin to talk about the decision and how brands have benefited from supporting their efforts.
The climbers are taking on Everest again, in part, because last year’s journey, documented on Snapchat as #EverestNoFilter, was only partially successful: Ballinger nearly made it to the summit, but had to turn back because his body went numb. Richards, meanwhile, made it to the top, but when he got there, a dead phone battery prevented him from taking a snap from Everest’s peak.
“Adrian told me, ‘You gotta carry an external battery,’ and I said, ‘It’s too much weight,’ and of course, I get to the summit, and I pulled my phone out, and it died,” Richards said.
The journey, which was also sponsored by Eddie Bauer and Strava, nonetheless garnered thousands of views on Snapchat and YouTube, and was a unique marketing opportunity for both brands.
“Snapchat was a way to tell the Everest story in a super authentic way,” Ballinger said. “I had used Strava as an app for many years to track my running and skiing, so it made sense to use it to track our climb. We were showing the real side of Everest, the nitty-gritty, the difficulty, and we got a huge following.”
Eddie Bauer has a deep history with Himalayan climbing, sponsoring the first American expedition to Everest in the 1960s, as well as subsequent climbs throughout history. Ballinger and Richards are a part of Eddie Bauer’s guide and athlete program, a slate of skiers and climbers who help the brand create products and provide content for its social media channels.
The brand posts content from #EverestNoFilter on its blog, and is using the climbs as a testing ground for its outdoor apparel.
“Most people aren’t going to be climbing Everest in it, but they want to know that it’s guide-tested, that it really holds up in these environments,” Ballinger explained.
Ballinger and Richards are both excited to take on Everest again next month—in part, to make amends for last year. As Richards put it, “Adrian’s going to climb it this year, and I’m going to snap from the fucking summit.”