Mountaineering: Because It's a Jolly Good Place to Twirl a Lariat

Outside magazine, September 1995


Mountaineering: Because It's a Jolly Good Place to Twirl a Lariat

What's up on the world's tallest mountain
By Greg Child


Mount Everest may lack some of the quiet, end-of-the-earth charm that it once had--this year 276 people from 20 different countries attempted to climb it, in contrast with a few knickers-clad fellows back in 1924. But is solitude really what you're after when you're 29,028 feet up and gasping deliriously for stray molecules of oxygen? Outside correspondent Greg Child paid a visit to the Big E this past climbing season (he summited on May 26) and took a few notes on the busiest season on record.

Number of people camping at Everest's two base camps: 600
Number of fax machines: 6
Number of espresso makers: 2
Estimated number of cans of beer consumed: 3,000
Maximum number of tents pitched at any given time on the mountain: 1,100
Number of climbers attempting to summit versus number who did: 276:73
Number of people attempting to summit, 1954-1994, versus number who did: 5,000:547
Average cost per person attempting Everest from the less difficult Nepalese side: $50,000
Average cost per person attempting Everest from the Tibet side: $20,000
Average per-client profit made by an American guiding company on the Tibet side: $10,000
Average per-client profit made by a Sherpa carrying a Western climber's gear: $3,000
Per capita annual income in Tibet: $300
Number of lawsuits threatened against climbing guides by clients who failed to summit: 5
Number of mothers attempting to summit versus number of fathers: 1:65
Number of mothers labeled "irresponsible" in the media versus number of fathers so labeled: 1:0
Number of climbers served divorce papers while on Everest: 2
Number of climbers who lost their jobs while on Everest: 3
Number of climbers who died while on Everest: 1
Average number of minutes spent on summit: 24
Average number of photographs per climber taken from summit: 14
Number of collapsed lungs sustained while on summit: 1
Estimated number of brain cells lost due to lack of oxygen on summit, per climber: 2,000
Estimated number of geese plucked to fill all the down suits worn to the summit: 3,520
Number of bouquets of plastic flowers left on the summit: 1
Number of Nebraskans who twirled lariats while on the summit: 1
Number of lariat twirlers who slipped but were saved when their zippers caught on rock nubbins: 1
Estimated weight in pounds of the pile of rock and ice considered to be the summit: 883,000
Estimated weight after this year's summiters removed pocket-size rocks for souvenirs: 882,900

More Adventure

Holiday Subscription Sale! Save 79% and Get a Free Gift!

Subscribe
Pinterest Icon