I recently picked the book
Into thin air by Jon Krakauer, which details the authors’ experience with the 1996 Mt. Everest disaster that is said to be one of the worst incidents at the summit. The book itself is a distressing page-turner that details the author’s personal experience and thoughts from previous hikers. Since I picked up hiking and high-altitude climbing activities, the book has been on my list to glean first-hand information about the realities of the adventures.
One major takeaway (or rather wake-up call) is for those planning someday to scale Mt. Everest (or other high summits), and it is the finance. Climbing summits such as Mt. Everest will require around 60+ days with over 67-73k€ - 1997 cost, adjusted to inflation it would be around 120-128k€. The cost will be required for the two-month preparation to adjust your body to a high-altitude climb and prepare for the climbing permit, enroll for the guiding team and a Sherpa to assist with luggage carrying (tent, oxygen cylinders mainly). Sherpas are the ethnic group famous for their exceptional mountains skills who earn around 4k for each climbing session they are hired for.
The most challenging aspect of climbing the summit is getting your body adjusted to the high altitude. The average human body starts losing its efficiency above 26k ft (ironically called the Death Zone) due to the paucity of oxygen present in the air. It is recommended that climbers spend close to 2 months adjusting their bodies. This is mainly achieved by making multiple round trips between Camp 1, 2, 3, and the Base Camp before attempting the main summit.
An oxygen cylinder is a must-have in the death zone; without one, the human mind will be impaired and physically lead to exhaustion as the body will become colder. Sleep is also something that becomes hard to have. Jon, for instance, didn’t get proper sleep for close to 3 days during his journey.
The book also details the harsh reality of the climb, including the fact that a climber is likely to encounter a lot of dead bodies on their way to the summit. Trash is also pretty common, although it is mostly in depleted oxygen cylinders, a pretty standard sight at Camp 3.
The (in)-famous John Oliver had dedicated a segment on the commercialization and overcrowding at the Mt. Everest, which paints the recent picture of how the deal with conquering the highest peak might not be as satisfactory as one may imagine. Combined with the experience detailed in the book, I am inclined to remove Everest from my bucket list…for now.