I come to you slightly annoyed.
I think it’s easy for those of us who are into the culture of the outdoors to get too bent out of shape over some of the stories that are big topics among our own.
This time of year, it’s Mount Everest. May is the time of year most climbers who scale the peak make their bids. The common complaints about Himalayan mountaineering often wear thin after awhile.
But not this spring.
The world’s highest peak, like all peaks in the Himalayas, is quite dangerous. There’s no guarantee you’ll summit. You’ll spend a lot of time and money trying. And there’s a chance you might not survive it.
One would think that given the risk involved — even when doing a totally supported, guided climb — there would be some standards as to who is allowed to try.
Well, there’s not. There are no legal requirements, other than age. So guide services set up their own standards. And while some require climbers to produce a climbing resume of big mountains and proficiency in basic mountaineering skills, others do not.
As in, no skills at all, according to a recent Outside Online post. Here’s a quote:
Back in 1996, when the Everest disaster that led to Jon Krakauer’s bestseller Into Thin Air occurred, there were only a handful of outfitters here. Now there are closer to a dozen, and the clients are paying anywhere from $25,000 to go with a local outfitter, to $80,000 to go with the most reputable Western outfitters. Back in 1996, a big deal was made of climbers who supposedly didn’t have much experience because they’d only climbed a few peaks around the world. But now you literally have people showing up at Base Camp who have never strapped on crampons before, have never climbed any mountain, who are trying this. So the level of experience has fallen off dramatically, while at the same time the number of people has increased just as dramatically.
Did you catch that? No experience required with some outfits. Mountaineering proficiency has dropped while the number of climbers has increased, creating traffic jams at chokepoints that left 300 people waiting to summit last weekend. That deadly combination is believed to have killed four people.
I guess it’s not all bad news. I’ve strapped on crampons before. Even used an ice axe. And I run a little, so I’m in decent shape.
Maybe I’m a cinch to get on one of these summit teams after all.
Anyone want to sponsor me? Summit or bust.
On Twitter @RMHigh7088