When describing this trip to family, friends and acquaintances, invariably someone would ask if any of us were ever interested or planning on actually going beyond Base Camp and climbing Mt. Everest. To put it succinctly… NO!
“But why?” you may ask…. Well let me list the many reasons:
- There is no need to name any part of our trek something as ominous as “The Death Zone” (the part of Mt. Everest that lies above 8000 m where climbers are racing the clock to survive during their final push to the summit).
- Our permit fee is $40… the permit fee to go onto the mountain is $11,000!
- Our trekking company has a 99% success rate of guiding clients to Base Camp, the commercial climbing expeditions won’t even provide a success rate.
- No frostbite… We fully expect to come back with all our fingers and toes!
- The worst we encounter during acclimatization days (when we hike to a higher altitude during the day, but sleep at a lower altitude to help our bodies adjust to the reduced levels of oxygen) maybe a flatulent yak… as opposed to building size blocks of ice that shift and move and frighteningly deep crevasses in the Khumbu Icefall (the glacier all climbers have to transit multiple times).
- The landmarks we encounter along the way are spectacular Himalayan peaks, rivers, suspension bridges, and villages… On the mountain some of the route markers are the permanently frozen bodies of dead climbers.
- Our equipment is no more complex than any weekend day-hiker requires; no need for crampons, ice axes, fixed ropes, oxygen canisters, tents precariously placed next to a 2000 m cliff, etc.
- Our evacuation insurance covers 100% of the route we travel (but hopefully we won’t need it).
- Our prep consisted of roughly three months of weekend hikes and gym workouts. The prepared Everest climber requires multiple years of high altitude mountain climbing experience and 30 days training at Base Camp and above.
- Weather won’t impact our goal of reaching Base Camp, whereas for the 1000+ climbers who pay upwards of $75,000 to attempt the summit are all compressed into a 2 or 3 day “weather window” creating a traffic jam at the top of the world with virtually no oxygen, and bitterly cold temperatures.
- Our trip cost are consistent with the price of a nice beach week vacation, vs. the cost of a luxury car or college education.