Last night I just finished a week and a half of binging five docu-series’ on Mt. Everest climbing expeditions. To say they were addictive is putting it mildly. It became an obsession from the moment I heard this first line of dialog.
"Right now, more than 250 daring men and women are climbing toward the summit of Mt. Everest, the highest point on earth. Some will succeed. Most will fail. Seven will die."
Forget the “Why does a man climb a mountain, because it’s there” BS. These people are clinically insane. Why does a guy who lost both his legs to frostbite come back two years later to be the first person to climb as a double amputee? Why does someone climb when it’s pretty much a certainty you’re going home with fewer fingers or toes than you started with? That's absolutely nuts.
But a funny thing that happens when you binge watch Everest documentaries. After about three episodes you somehow think you’re now and expert and could probably make the climb yourself. As it stands I know about the dangers of the Khumbu Ice Fall. I can wax poetic about the Lohtse Face, a 1000 foot sheer ice cliff you have to climb to get to Camp Two. I know the route to get to Camp Three. Camp Four? It’s just below the “Death Zone”, the altitude where you literally start dying once you enter it and that's not an exaggeration. You start dying. Yeah, that's where ya lost me.
So back to Base Camp. That’s what I’ll do. I’ll hang out there. Cook for the guys. Make coffee. It’s perfect for me. Until I learned it’s an 11 day hike to an elevation of 17,000 feet and I could easily die from altitude sickness and HAPE (high-altitude pulmonary edema) where your lungs fill with fluid and you drown. Your brain can also swell and kill you. Yeah Base Camp ain’t gonna happen either.
So as I watched, I jotted down all the reasons why I won’t be climbing Everest anytime soon. Here they are. Feel free to add your own.
- It’s hard.
- Temperatures can reach -30º F and I don’t like the cold.
- Avalanches can sweep you down the mountain at any time.
- To cross the infinitely deep crevasses, you have to walk across ladders from Home Depot tied together with nylon rope. Hell, I won’t even borrow the neighbor’s ladder to clean my gutters.
- The trek to the Summit from Camp Four starts at midnight. It’s dark at midnight. I’m not climbing a mountain in the dark.
- Hypoxia. A lack of oxygen to your body. They give you bottles of oxygen. But other teams steal your oxygen if you don’t hide it well enough. Seriously? Stealing oxygen? What a-holes.
- When people die, they leave them you up there. Look to your left. Look to your right. What do you see? Dead people.
- When people are dying, they leave them up there. Look to your left. Look to your right. What do you see? Someone dying.
- When you get to the top you have 18 minutes to look around. That’s it. 18 minutes. Just enough time for a couple of selfies. But don't take off your gloves to take the picture. Your will have frost bite in under 2 minutes.
- You have to climb back down. 80% of the people who die on Everest die on the way down. Nope.
- And last but not least, it’s hard.
Finally, as the credits rolled on the last documentary one thought crossed my mind:
WHO’S CARRYING THE F***ING CAMERA? Think about it. It ain't shot with a Go Pro. So while the climbers are cheating death, there’s a guy up there in Zubaz pants and a fanny pack trying to get around you so they can shoot some B-Roll. But that's a photog for you. They do what they gotta do to get the shot at any cost. God bless em.
So if you want to climb Everest be my guest but don’t expect me to be your climbing buddy. I’ve got four seasons of Schitt’s Creek I’ve got to finish by next Friday.
PHOTO: Getty Images/Discovery Network