A few people probably won’t agree with me but I believe it needs to be said. Apologies for the long read in advance.
Mt. Everest. 8,848m or 29,029 ft depending on your up-bringing. It is the highest mountain on our Earth. Due to that it makes it pretty cool. Everyone knows it, from at 4 year old to 99 year old. People all have a sense of scale to it, to pretty much everyone its impressive. Of course it is, as I said it is the highest mountain on Earth!!!
Want to do it? Cool, that’ll be just £40,000. Then you’ll also need to pay for all this too…
- International airfares to Kathmandu
- Personal Insurance
- Personal cargo costs to Nepal
- Personal equipment/climbing gear/vaccinations
- Nepal visa
- Satellite phone calls
- Additional oxygen bottles
- Costs associated with an expedition finishing early or you leaving an expedition early.
- Costs associated with extending a trip due to bad weather or other circumstances including the cost of extra nights accommodation
Then you’ll also need to train, get your fitness up, lifting heavy packs, but don’t get too fit. Studies show that super fit people don’t preform that well at altitude. So do a few Munroes but not all of them, you will also probably want to experience altitude before going to Everest, so maybe go to the Alps or you could do the Annapurna Circuit before doing it on the same holiday if your’re feeling adventures!
Now the fun stuff, altitude. Altitude is a bitch. It is awful. When you’re in it. Afterwards it’s great because you get to write up forum posts and pretend to be an expert! Altitude is fickle, you can’t really prepare for it and sometimes it won’t hit you, you’ll get a headache or it’ll hit you like a ton of bricks! I’m not posting this to tell you the wonders of it, you can do some research yourself just letting you know you can’t prepare for it.
I suppose it’s time to get on to my point of this post. It’s not to light a fire up your ass and do Everest. If anything I’d ask ye to stay the hell away from it.
Everest is not a great mountain, there is nicer stuff to be doing around it. With Everest you are taking a massive risk just for a photo. You’re putting a lot on the line. You are dealing with a zone literally called “The Death Zone”. Humans aren’t designed to be at over 8,000m. The Death Zone is around 8,000m and above, what it means is that there isn’t enough oxygen in the air for you body to suck in to keep you alive. It is something you can’t acclimatise to.
You’ve heard of it? Oh you’ll be carrying oxygen sure, no bother then. Do me a favour, read “Where the Mountain Casts Its Shadow: The Dark Side of Extreme Adventure”. Read it? Terrifying isn’t it. Don’t worry if you didn’t read it. It is the accounts of the families and friends that are left behind as there loved ones never came back from trips. You’re denying your family quite a lot. With the recent death of Séamus Lawless and being unable to find his body, insurance won’t pay out on his behalf, his family can’t say goodbye to him. It could be said that he died what he loved doing, I would disagree as I can’t imagine dying of possibly hypothermia or dying in impact to be what anyone loves doing.
I’m not saying never do it. Some friends of mine have a personal goal to get to the top and I wish them luck! For me personally I think the risks do not outweigh the goal on this particular summit. There is other stuff that I would love to do that I’m sure other people think I’m daft as a headless chicken for wanting to do. At the end of the day, it is what I want to do. In our sport we can take a lot or risk, some of it necessary and some completely unnecessary. We all as individuals need to be completely aware of the risks and potential outcomes.
It is important to find your own line and stay below it as much as you can. It doesn’t matter when you push the envelope. It could be your first or 444th time. You need to be aware of the risks if and when you do push the envelope.
TLDR: Everest is scary.
For those of you that are mad like me and read stories about how things can go wrong I suggest you read: The Bond, Into Thin Air and Touching the Void or watch Meru and the film of Touching the Void. Also give a listen to the Sharp End podcast too. If you’re looking for some silly fun watch Vertical Limit